KANSAS CITY MO - SEPTEMBER 26: Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs sacks Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium on September 26 2010 in Kansas City Missouri. The Chiefs won 31-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
In the eighth installment of this series, we'll be talking about one of the premiere pass rushers in the league. Since his conversion from defensive end in the 4-3 to outside linebacker in the 3-4, Hali has blossomed from potential bust to Pro-Bowler.Tamba Hali was drafted in the 2006 first round out of Penn State. Many expected him to come out and contribute right away opposite of Jared Allen and he didn't disappoint. Hali had eight sacks and five forced fumbles, and seemed to be a star in the making. However, his growth was slow in coming. In 2007, Hali registered seven and a half sacks, and in 2008 he nose-dived. Hali only had three sacks without Jared Allen on the other end. Many felt Hali was a product of the attention afforded to Allen, causing the skeptics to label him a bust.
In 2009, Hali bounced back. He recorded eight and a half sacks after his position change under Todd Haley, the highest total of his career up to that point. Toward the end of the season, Hali became more and more disruptive, especially in a game against Ryan Clady in which he had three sacks. Last season, Hali became a household name. He amassed 14 1/2 sacks, leading the AFC. Hali also led the league in quarterback pressures (and what seemed like uncalled holding penalties on over-matched tackles). He was selected to his first pro bowl, and at the age of 27 looks poised for future greatness.
The question isn't can Hali sustain his 2010 totals, it's can he surpass them?
My Verdict: He can and he will. Hali had a career year under Romeo Crennel last season and there is no evidence to support a drop-off in productivity. Tamba was able to devastate other teams without any help from the other side (Vrabel had as many sacks as you and I) which is nothing short of amazing. He often faced double teams and yet still was able to create utter havoc. With potential help this season in Studebaker/Houston/Sheffield, he 's primed for a monster year.
The thing that makes Hali so tough for opposing teams is his wide array of moves. He can employ a speed rush at times, but also shows the ability to bull rush. It's rare that a player has both options as a legitimate threat, but then again Hali is a rare player. I expect Hali to have 15+ sacks this year, and vault himself into DeMarcus Ware/ Clay Matthews territory.
Most fans and pundits are slow to realize the ability in Kansas City, but Hali will force them to take notice.