Originally posted on His Dirkness
My publicist tells me the NFL Draft is tomorrow night. If you're feeling unprepared for it, don't worry, you're not alone. I blame it on the lack of Free Agency, which we'd normally be almost 2 months into by now. So since there has been no Free Agency, the Draft almost feels like it takes on a greater importance since no team's needs have been satisfied thus far. I'm really not sure what role Free Agency will play this year, however I have no interest in finding out because I refuse to follow the current lockout. But, to my knowledge, they have to have something because of all the players that aren't under contract right now. And that's the last you'll hear from me about the lockout.
Fortunately, the Chiefs have the added bonus this year of not being under tremendous financial pressure with their first pick (the first time since 2007). Thus, I've been able to sit back and relax, instead of studying Mel Kiper's browline (prominent) and Todd McShay's girth (lacking) on a daily basis. Honestly, I think my assessments will be more spot on this year, simply because I'll be avoiding over-analysis.
I noticed an interesting trend when studying the Kansas City Chiefs' recent first round draft history. If Tyson Jackson pans out, which I honestly think he will, I would argue they have hit on their last 8 first round picks. Hali, Bowe, Dorsey and Berry are the headliners. Some people aren't as high on Albert as I am. Derrick Johnson is atleast solid and definitely not a bust. Larry Johnson may be one of your least favorite Chiefs of all time, but he work-horsed his worth. Ty Jax is the question mark, but I can't get the images of his fiery play against Baltimore out of my head. I think he's due for a breakout year in 2011. How many other teams can make that claim though? With absolutely no research completed, I'd guess none, and couldn't see anymore than two. So throw away any doubts you had about this franchise's ability to draft good players (and I do feel like they have a somewhat undeserved poor reputation in that department).
Lets start with a positions of need list for the Chiefs since I have yet to throw one out this offseason:
Big 3 (positions that MUST be addressed)
1. Outside Linebacker - The most important position on defense (in the 3-4) has a vacant spot left behind (played by Mike Vrabel's corpse last season). Unlike last year (when there were no prospects worthy of our #1), there are a handful of prospects the Chiefs could select at 21.
2. Wide Receiver - The biggest hole on the roster (Studebaker is decent at OLB). I would like to see them add two weapons to Cassel's arsenal this offseason. While I hope they draft one, my hunch on the other just received good news with Steve Smith having previously demanding a trade from the Panthers. Given that artillery, Cassel is forced into something of a put-up or shut-up type season (a good thing).
3. Nose Tackle - A position that really hasn't been fulfilled since switching to the 3-4. The run defense was held together with smoke and mirrors through the first half of 2010, but fell apart the latter half. Yanno those trucks with Oversize Load signs on them? We need someone to hang that sign on in the middle of our defense.
Secondary 6 (would be nice to address these positions)
4. Center - Casey Wiegmann was good but you can't think he won't decline atleast a little bit this year (he's getting a little long in the tooth). It would be nice to fill this undervalued position with a youngling for the next 15 years.
5-6. Offensive Tackle/Inside Linebacker - Both positions have one solid starter (Albert, DJ) and one iffy starter (Richardson, Belcher). I like both of these players, but both could be improved upon. While Belcher is better right now, Richardson has a better chance to improve.
7. Backup QB - Every night before I go to bed, I pray to Lord Lebowski that the Crodie Broyle era is over in Kansas City. Wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Chiefs snag a QB in the 2nd round (I prefer Mallett) or later (I'm seeing lots of Ricky Stanzi from Iowa).
8. Fullback - Yet to replace Tony Richardson. Maybe we should get Tony Richardson. Or Stanley Havili, USC.
9. Safety - People are way more sold on Kendrick Lewis than I am at this point. While he is young, people too often mistake playing as a youngster with showing great potential. Doesn't always work out that way. Oh yeah, and Jon McGraw.
Now lets take a look at who I think the Chiefs are most likely to select with their first round pick come tomorrow night...
1. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin - Keep hearing this name pop up and I must say I'm quite impressed. Won the Outland Trophy last year (best interior lineman). He was a unanimous All-American. Captain at Wisconsin (well documented how the Chiefs like that). And nicknamed "The Jewish Hammer." Alright, alright. Not crazy about the position grab, but I like him the best. Projects as a Right Tackle despite starting 49 of his career 52 games at Left Tackle. Grade ~ B+
2. Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia - Different than other projected 3-4 OLB's because he actually played in the 3-4 defense in college. Earned All-SEC honors as well as a finalist for the Butkus (best LB) and Nagurski (best DL/LB) awards last year, when he tallied 10 sacks. Would probably be considered a bit of a reach, but ultimately fills the Chiefs' biggest need. Grade ~ B+
3. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA - Played more of a natural stand up LB position at UCLA so he never really put up the sack numbers (career high 6 in 2009). More of a coverage LB than a pass rusher (although flashes the ability to do so when watching his highlights). Seems to have great instincts. Makes plays. However, I'm skeptical at putting an inexperienced pass rusher in a position to constantly rush the passer. Grade ~ C+
4. Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor - Was everybody's mockulation for the Chiefs until word spread about an irreparable foot condition. That concerns me, but so does never noticing this guy despite watching a handful of Baylor games last year. Grade ~ C-
5. Nate Solder, OT, Colorado - Another potential Right Tackle. Every year the NFL Draft analysts say we need to upgrade the offensive line, but I'm not sure if the KC brass agrees with that sentiment. Solder stands a monstrous 6'8 and has a boring Wikipedia page. Grade ~ C+
6. Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona - Stock is high right now because he can match Clay Matthews in the flowing locks department. Lacks great athletic ability, but has a high motor. But hey, long hairs are so hot right now. Count me in. Grade ~ B
7. Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue / Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri - Both of these pass rushing LB's would be ideal, however both will most likely be off the board by the time the Chiefs pick at 21. Grade ~ A
8. Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida - Should send half of his signing bonus to his brother, who excelled with the Steelers as a rookie last year. I'm all for taking a Center early on, but wasn't this the guy that had like 13 bad snaps in Florida's first game of the year? Red flag. Plus, if he plays Guard, we don't need him. Grade ~ C
9. Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland - Have yet to see anybody with Smith being drafted this high. This pick becomes increasingly more likely if the Chiefs are able to trade down, which we haven't seen the Chiefs do yet under Pioli, but the Patriots are famous for it. He was an excellent returner his first two years, but concentrated on receiving more in 2010. Has the top end speed the Chiefs should be coveting opposite D-Bowe. Grade ~ B-
10. Marvin Austin, DE, North Carolina - One of the Tarheels that was suspended for the entire 2010 season. Was considered a top prospect until that suspension, now just considered risky. However, this dude is an animal. He's a wildebeest. He's huge and he can run. Probably not big enough to play Nose Tackle, but if you love him, you can never have enough defensive linemen. And I love him. Grade ~ B+