While sitting in night class tonight, my highly not-so-productive self began to lose focus and my mind began to wander. Like many of you, that takes me to a place in my mind devoted entirely to the Chiefs, the Chiefs, the Chiefs again and anything and everything else pertaining to the Chiefs. The subject of tonight's magic school bus-like adventure inside of my mind led to this simple question: How have the Chiefs progressed from last year to now? I don't mean progression as in win-loss record and a playoff berth. I mean progression as in what were our needs a year ago, how did we address those needs and what are our needs as we continue to move forward.
A year ago at this time (and still very much so today), Chiefs Nation argued and debated what our specific needs as a team were. Heading into the 2010 off-season, many of us questioned whether or not Matt Cassel was the QB of this team. We were begging for help along the offensive line. We hoped for an upgrade at tight end over Sean Ryan. We would have given our left nuts for receivers not named Mark Bradley, Bobby Wade and Lance Long. Dwayne Bowe was thought to be, at best, a solid #2 receiver for the future. Nose tackle was the most talked about position of need for several months. An upgrade at inside linebacker was needed. Derrick Johnson's trade value was being measured. Upgrades at both safety positions were no-brainers. Oh, and we needed a full-time kick returner since Jamaal Charles had established himself as a real threat at running back.
So in simpler terms, those needs were (in no particular order):
1. QB either to push or replace Cassel
2. WR to eventually take the #1 spot from Bowe and Chambers
4. OL help all along the line
Now as many may recall, several names linked to the Chiefs 2010 draft were:
Round 1- Eric Berry, Terrence Cody, Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams, Russell Okung, Rolando McClain, Dez Bryant, Sean Weatherspoon, Jimmy Clausen, Dan Williams and Joe Haden.
Round 2 (2 picks)- Golden Tate, Arrelious Benn, Jared Odrick, Terrence Cody again, Brian Price, Sergio Kindle, Torrell Troup, Linval Joseph, Jordan Shipley, Vladimir Ducasse, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez and Taylor Mays (to name a few).
Remaining rounds- Myron Rolle, Kam Chancellor, T.J. Ward, Nate Allen, Morgan Burnett, J.D. Walton, Mardy Gilyard, Bruce Campbell, Eric Norwood, Cam Thomas and potentially dozens more.
Now as we all know, those needs were actually addressed by the signings of Casey Weigmann, Ryan Lilja and Thomas Jones, the drafting of Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, Jon Asamoah, Tony Moeaki, Kendrick Lewis and Cameron Sheffield, and the improved play of Cassel, Bowe and Derrick Johnson.
So after a full calendar year, how does the team sit now? What needs from 2010 still need to be addressed and what new needs are there to address? I'll start with my personal list of "needs" and it is as follows:
3. OLB (maybe)
4. #2 WR
5. #2 FS/SS
6. #2 QB
The need for a nose tackle once again is pretty clear. I also strongly believe the need for offensive line help is of extreme urgency. I don't care whether it's through drafting a new right tackle and allowing Richardson to be the swing tackle, drafting a center to replace Weigmann if he retires, moving Waters to center to allow Asamoah to start, drafting a left tackle and moving Albert to right tackle or any other scenario. I don't care what they do but I strongly feel that something must be done because the pass protection all year was atrocious despite how few times Cassel was sacked. The outside linebacker need is listed because I'm not sure what to make of Studebacker yet. I like him but I thought he would have taken more time away from Vrabel last year had the Chiefs felt he was the future. The receiver need is clear after the playoff game in which Bowe was shut down. Bowe has established himself as a Pro-Bowl player in this league and I doubt anyone expects Dexter to be more than a slot guy (a very good one though) so a deep speed threat to play outside would be ideal. And luckily, the final two needs I have listed are areas of depth.
In conclusion, the Chiefs entered the 2010 off-season looking for possibly up to 10 new starters. We're entering the 2011 off-season with hopes of finding 2-3 new starters and adding quality depth. Win-loss records aside, this should show the improvement Pioli is making in Kansas City. This should also show how, with time, Pioli's plan is taking shape and becoming much easier to understand. I'm hoping the 2009 off-season was a fluke. Now let's see what the future has in store.