With the signing of Stanford Routt, the offseason is in full swing. There's tons of discussion going on here about what will happen, and as of now (like Joel in his "predictions" article) I'm going to make a few assumptions:
1) Brandon Carr won't be back. Whether is be straight to free-agency or tagged and traded, I think the Routt signing seals his fate.
2) Dwayne Bowe will be back. Either he signs long-term in the next two weeks or they slap the tag on him.
I think these are two pretty safe assumptions at this point. So that should leave us with a pretty clear view of Kansas City's needs moving into free-agency and the draft. More on those needs and possible solutions after the jump.For the purposes of this article, I'm defining "position of need" as a position that the Chiefs either need an upgrade or could stand to see an upgrade (and could at least use some competition). As options, I'm listing guys who I feel could come in and be a solution at the position next season. So what needs do the Chiefs have? Which positions will they (or should they) be targeting in either free-agency or the draft? I'll go through the offense today and try to hit the defense tomorrow.
Could they get by with Ryan Lilja for another year? Probably (maybe). Could Rodney Hudson maybe play guard with a veteran center stepping in next to him? Maybe. But I think the best scenario for the Chiefs has them picking up a new left guard. Lilja saw a huge dropoff in his play last season and Hudson, in my opinion, is better suited at center where his size (or lack thereof) is less of a concern.
Carl Nicks - He's the prize at guard in free-agency. A great player who is going to require a large contract.
Ben Grubbs - A very good player who missed 6 games last year to injury (zero the previous three years). Will cost less than Nicks.
Evan Mathis - A little older than both Nicks and Grubbs, but he's really only played two and a half actual seasons (37 games started in his career).
Kraig Urbik - I liked him coming out of the draft and he's been a solid player. Not the name or production of the three above, but would be a solid upgrade over Lilja.
David DeCastro - The best guard prospect in years and he should be available at 11/12. Should be a plug and play guy who can step in from Day 1.
Kevin Zeitler - Won't cost a first round pick and is a very good fit for the Chiefs blocking scheme. Had a nice Senior Bowl and should be available in round 2 (maybe even round 3).
Prediction: As much as everyone would love to sign Nicks, I don't see it happening. I like DeCastro, but I think it will be easier to find a left guard in free-agency than a right tackle (and I think they need upgrades at both positions). I think they make a serious run at Grubbs and settle for a lesser option like Urbik (or maybe even Kory Lichtensteiger) if that falls through. I'm gonna say Grubbs here.
This really needs much less of an explanation than left guard. Barry Richardson is not the answer and I'm not willing to bet anyone else on the roster (O'Callaghan, Mims) is either.
Demetrius Bell - He played well at left tackle last year, but suffered through injuries and managed to play only 7 games (6 starts).
Kareem McKenzie - He's been solid for a long time, but his played dropped off badly this past season.
Anthony Collins - Stuck behind Andre Smith on the depth chart, he's played well in limited playing time. I liked him coming out of the draft and he could be a steal.
Riley Reiff - Can play both sides and he should be able to start from Day 1. Might not be there when the Chiefs select in round 1.
Jonathan Martin - An excellent pass blocker who isn't quite as good in the run game. Very athletic, but more of a finesse guy a this point. There's at least a decent chance he's there in round 1.
Mike Adams - Great size and very athletic. Inconsistent, but could be an excellent NFL tackle. Probably a bit of a reach at 11/12, but could be a target with a trade back.
Prediction: After picking up Grubbs in free-agency, the Chiefs trade back and grab Adams in round 1 (and get another pick in the process). That's a pretty nice line to work with.
Yes, Tony Moeaki is coming back from injury and he looked very good in his rookie year. He also has a fairly long injury history and honestly I would have liked to pick up another tight end regardless. I love the idea of exposing mismatches with two tight end sets (ala the Patriots) and Leonard Pope (free-agent) and Jake O'Connell aren't the guys to do that.
Martellus Bennett - Graded out very well as a blocker and he's got the athletic ability to be much better in the passing game than he has shown so far. Shouldn't cost a ton. He's only 25.
Joel Dreessen - A solid blocker and a capable receiver. Another solid and probably inexpensive option.
John Carlson - He's been pretty productive, but saw a big drop-off this past season. Could be a good buy-low candidate.
Dwayne Allen - Athletic and a good blocker and receiver. A complete player who would be a very nice addition. Pegged for the late first or early second round.
Coby Fleener - Very good receiver. Shows good effort in the run game, but isn't a great blocker. Just like Allen, he's being pegged for the late first or early second round.
Orson Charles - Good receiver and should be there in round 2 (maybe even round 3).
Prediction: The Chiefs, looking to fill other needs in the draft, opt for one of the thrifty options in free-agency to provide more depth and options at the position. My money is on Carlson.
Matt Flynn: Very limited playing time. Is he for real? How much will it take to sign him? Sounds like he wants to go play for Philbin in Miami.
David Garrard: He's Matt Cassel with a better deep ball. He's probably not the guy to get the Chiefs to a Super Bowl, but he could be a better stopgap than Cassel who could buy them some more time to find a guy in the draft.
Jason Campbell - He's been decent in both DC and Oakland, but got bumped out by McNabb (in DC) and Palmer (in Oakland). Again, he's probably not the guy to get the Chiefs to a Super Bowl, but he could be an upgrade.
Kyle Orton: Same as above. Nothing spectacular, but he could be a better option than Cassel.
Chad Henne - Same as above (again). Daboll is familiar with him and he's got a good arm. Poor decision maker.
Robert Griffin III - He's got tons of talent, but I'm worried about his size. It will cost a lot to move up and get him. If you hitch your wagon to him, he better be the answer.
Ryan Tannehill - He's got a foot injury that will keep him out of the combine and he doesn't have a ton of experience. Probably won't be there in round 2.
The next group - After these two (and Luck) there's the next group of Nick Foles, Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden and Kirk Cousins. Personally I don't consider any of them strong bets to develop into a good NFL quarterback.
Prediction: I can't see them trading the picks to get Griffin and I don't think Tannehill is there in round 2. I'm not high on anyone from the next group and I can't see them going into next season with Cassel, Stanzi and a rookie anyways (I suppose they could dump Cassel for another veteran in this scenario, but I can't see that happening). Of the free-agent options, they are most familiar with Orton and I think he's who they go for. I know everyone wants to dream here, but I think this is the most likely scenario. And honestly, with that the line above and those options in the passing game, we could see some substantial improvement.
I'd agree with everyone that runningback depth is also a need, but there's so many options at the position (Green-Ellis, Bush, Tolbert, Kevin Smith, Ryan Grant and a pile of draft options) that it would take me another page (we're already at 1500 words) to get through the options and honestly I'm not that concerned about it. There's so many options that I'm almost certain they'll find a suitable addition to what they have in Charles and McCluster. I'll be back with the defense tomorrow. Feel free to discuss in the comments.