Hey there everyone this is ChiefsFanJon and i know there's still a ton of football left in the 2011 season but its never to early to start educating yourself on both: the needs of next years chiefs and the available players courtesy of the 2012 draft. And with that introduction I will be breaking down the key positions that I believe the Chiefs could use improvement.
This next position is another that varies greatly from one fan to another. Javon Belcher is young and he has gotten better each year in the league. He hits the hole hard and allows DJ to fly around making tackles on the field but he is a huge liability in the passing game. Adding to the position with a more athletic player that can stuff the run, cover, and has the ability to blitz would add to not only the base defense but allow more confusion in blitz packages.
This position is a moderate need and i would like to see a pick in this draft used to update the talent and level of competition at this position. I would place the need at a 4 out of 5 and this position could be addressed in the first round.
1. Vontaze Burfict, SILB, Arizona St. - 6' 3" 250 lbs
Burfict as an absolute animal and he plays like one. He flies around the field putting fear in the offense as he delivers bone crushing hits. He possesses elite athleticism and anticipation and is excellent at reading and reacting to what is happening on the field in front of him. He has red flags as there are stories on the web about him punching a teammate and getting into it with assistant coaches but his talent and playmaking ability should have him as a top 15 pick for any team needing a linebacker. Burfict is a top 10 talent but with his control issues he has slipped a little and could be available when the chiefs pick.Potential Upside: Ray Lewis
Burfict is passionate and plays with everything he has. He loves to put fear into the offense and deliver the big hits. He will drop into coverage and make plays reading and reacting to the QB's eyes. If he can keep himself in control and not let his passion and emotion get out of hand the sky is the limit.
2. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame - 6'2" 245 lbs
Wildly talented being the top LB recruit in the country coming out of high school 3 years ago he is a junior for Notre Dame this year and has experience in a 3-4 defense. Te'o has elite size for a linebacker and is a 4 down player with very good athleticism and excellent coverage skills. He would be able to play either WILB or SILB but has less experience taking on and shedding blocks as a SILB. His motor, work ethic, and leadership are also rumored to be great and he has no off the field issues. Te'o is expected to be a top 20 pick if he leaves ND and enters the NFL draft this season.Potential Upside: Brian Urlacher
Te'o really is a rare linebacker and if he can put it all together and put in the work he could go down as one of the best. He has a very rare combination of size, strength, speed, acceleration and he has excellent instincts and awareness.
3. Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama - 6'4" 260 lbs
Hightower is the leader of Nick Saban's 3-4 defense and he is a punisher at linebacker. He has ability to blitz and take on blockers from the ILB position having done it in college and he possesses good speed (4.6-4.7) allowing him to make plays from the SILB position. He has a great motor and is lauded for having a great work ethic in the film room and weight room. He had a knee issue and missed most of last season but has shown little effect this year. He is expected to go in the early second round and could be a target of a trade down or trade up for us to pick him.Potential Upside: David Harris
Hightower is the very definition of a SILB. He puts in the hard work and makes the tough plays. He also bring the ability to get after the QB and could be used as a blitzer in obvious passing situations. He is solid in pass coverage and can muscle with the best but will get burned by speedier players.
4. Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas - 6'1" 245 lbs
Franklin has potential as a pass rusher but also has the athleticism to play linebacker. He is a quality run stuffer and has shown the ability to stack blocks and shed them. He does possess strong pass rush moves which would be useful for subsets and keeping him on the field on 3rd down. Franklin is versatile which is a bonus for our defense and coaches. He should be a selection in the 2nd to 3rd round range and is a developmental linebacker with talent.Potential Upside: Mike Vrabel
Franklin's greatest asset is his versatility. He has played at OLB, ILB, and subsets of defensive end. He is not prolific at anything but rather good at everything although he does have above average pass rush moves. Franklin would need to put in the work but he could be a Vrabel like player being a key part to a defense.
5. Tank Carder, ILB, TCU - 6'2" 237
Hard worker and leader of the TCU defense. Carder is a complete linebacker that puts in the hard work and does everything he can to help his team win. He is athletic for a SILB and is solid in pass coverage. Hard hitter and has great instincts. He is a developmental backer but should be able to challenge Belcher and contribute on special teams. Expected to be a 3rd round pick.Potential Ceiling: James Farrior
He may never be an elite linebacker that gets a lot of attention but he can become a solid contributor on a champion quality team. He will be there to make the tough plays and to bring emotion and ferocity to the defense he plays for.