The Chiefs Are Placing Risky Bets at the Linebacker Position

I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised at the lack of movement in one particular area on the football field. Anyone else feeling the same about the Chiefs current linebacking corps?

There's been a lot of player movement this off-season and, in only his second time around, we knew Scott Pioli would continue to bring in "his guys," just like every other general manager. The secondary seems almost entirely revamped. The defensive line was his first priority in year one with the Ty Jackson pick. The offensive line got upgraded via free agency over the last few months. The running game added a 1,400 yard rusher to go with the emergence of Jamaal Charles. And of course, there was that trade for a quarterback last season.

But there was one position that was a hole two years ago that still remains a void today -- or at least to those of us without offices on Arrowhead Drive: the linebacking corps. Sure, Mike Vrabel came over as part of the Matt Cassel trade, but even then he was considered as valuable for his locker room leadership as his on-field abilities. That was also back when Derrick Johnson was the defensive highlight. And while Tamba Hali has kicked it into gear, it's still arguably the position lacking the most overall talent on the roster.

Consider the following question marks:

*Derrick Johnson - Fans believe the talent is still there. Yet the Chiefs didn't flip him for draft picks, leading some to believe the Chiefs still have plans for him or others to wonder if no one really desired the once-promising LB. Either way, it's clear DJ didn't have a good start under Todd Haley.

*Corey Mays - Acquired some stats last year, but any ILB will find plenty of tackles with enough playing time. Love his work ethic, but the ceiling seems low.

*Mike Vrabel - Old age (in football years) should keep the Chiefs from looking to the defensive leader for too much on the field.

Names like Demorrio Williams are still around, but he must be considered average at best. Then there are youngsters like Jovan Belcher and Pierre Walters and Cameron Sheffield on the rosters, and while those guys have their fans rooting for them and believing in their potential, let's be honest about how that will play out on the football field. We all love a good success story, but counting on those things to happen is another level entirely.

Yet that's exactly what the in-house strategy seems to be, allowing the younger guys to learn and grow and hoping for the best. And, of course, they would know. But from an outside perspective, it seems to be a risky strategy to refuse to bring in legitimate talent capable of playing at a high level. Instead, the Chiefs have a lot of question marks at the linebacker positions -- some that might just turn out for the better, but the opposite is also possible.
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