Figured I'd just put that picture in.
Yeah, you know where this post is headed.
But first, let's look at our current O-line for 2012 and potential starters.LT: Branden Albert
Branden is quietly evolving into one of the best tackles in the league. His run-blocking is not thunderous or overwhelming but it's persistent. He has the quickest feet of a lineman in the NFL and when he locks onto a defender you know that whoever it is has no chance, because Albert knows how to finish a block. He made a many a defensive end seem invisible in the running game, and was easily our best drive-blocker.
His pass-blocking is probably not incredible among tackles but it's still very good. He did a very good job against some quality pass-rushers this year, like Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney, James Harrison, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Andre Carter, and even Jared Allen (technically Jared had 2 sacks, but they were hardly even sacks. They were coverage problems, as it seemed to me). He'll only get better with time as anyone who has tried to make the move will tell you guard and tackle are two VERY different positions.
And finally, on the move he's phenomenal. You could make a case that he's the best in the league at it, from his position or overall. His aforementioned quick feet and athleticism surprises quick defenders because they don't expect him to be able to catch them, and he will put them on their butts when he gets the chance.
LG: Ryan Lilja (but that is subject to change)
Let me start out by saying I have nothing against Lilja. He's a decent player who has done good for us. But the fact of the matter is he's an aging, undersized guy and that can be tough on a player when the league around him is as big as it is.
His push off the line is very bad. His lack of strength and girth makes it physically impossible for him to try and drive back 340-360 pounds nose tackles like Soliai and Raji. It's just hard to be that small and really dominate someone in the running game, as size really does matter on the O-line.
His pass-blocking is mediocre to ok. He can get overpowered by bigger guys and bulldozed back into the pocket, but he is relatively good at holding his ground as long as he can get some help here and there.
His on the move blocking should be good, and better be good if he's gonna be so darned small but it's nothing incredible. He's probably above average but it's not spectacular.
Fact of the matter is, guys like DeCastro and Zeitler have like 30 some pounds on him (guys like Glenn and Osemele have like 50-60 pounds on him) and despite being so much bigger and stronger they are probably just about as athletic.
Rod is a question, but we do have some indication. He's had to fill in for Lilja a few times last season and for the most part I've been impressed. However, that was at guard and guard and center are not the same position.
His first advantage over Wiegs is his size. He's by no means a giant among offensive linemen, but he seems like one in comparison to 280 pound Casey Wiegmann. At 6'2, 300 pounds he could play in both a man and zone-blocking scheme effectively.
Rod's got an attitude and toughness that I'd like to see him project, and become a leader on this offensive line like he was at Florida State. He's strong, tenacious and is much more physical than Wiegmann. His surge off the line in the run game isn't gigantic but at least you know it's there unlike with some smaller players.
His pass-protection from the guard position was pretty good, although he did get beat a few times by quick moves that he didn't react quickly to. He does get pushed back but he can at least hold up a bull-rush and maintain a pocket for a few more seconds.
His blocking in space seemed mediocre to me, nothing spectacular. He hit the defender, walled them off but didn't seem to really lock on and they'd oftentimes get off of his block and go get in on the play.
To me, I'm cautiously optimistic about his future. He has the potential to become the next in a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long list of great Chiefs offensive lineman, but it's up to him if he wants on it. Hopefully, a full offseason will help him develop into a good starter.
RG: Jon Asamoah
Much like his teammate Albert, Big Jon has somehow, without notice, become one of the best guards in professional football. Many of us were worried about his future here as he was forced into the starting position after Brian Waters left, but Waters said he was ready and boy was he ever right.
In the run-game, Jon's good. He has a VERY good explosion off of the line and gets good leverage to shove the defender upwards. Powerful lower body strength and leg drive does the rest. If there's one knock on Jon is that he's not incredibly strong and pretty small (in college he weighed around 320 pounds, but he now weighs about 305), but he gets much better results against bigger guys than Wiegs and Lilja.
Jon's pass-blocking is also superb. Very first game of the year I questioned him as rookie Marcell Dareus and NT Kyle Williams seemed to be having their way with him in the passing game, but he seemed to gain some confidence, essentially shutting down and manhandling the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Richard Seymour, Casey Hampton and somewhat Vince Wilfork (THAT was quite the battle, from what I remember).He's rarely found out of place, he digs his feet into the dirt and stonewalls rushers, and if he makes a mistake he can correct it in milliseconds with his quick feet.
On the move, he's once again among the leagues best. If you want a guy who will roll out and really maul and obliterate a defender on a screen or while pulling, Jon's the guy you'll want. He's very, very quick and explodes into the defenders and walls them away from the runner, normally making a very nice lane. Take this, for example.
Look at Jon. He gets outside of the tackle and tight end quickly and locks up with a defender and drives him back, then just tosses him to the ground. If it wasn't for Jon, this TD that essentially clinched that WONDEROUS win wouldn't have happened. And he does this routinely every game (BTW, you gotta love that whole mess of bodies on the left side. It personifies how much KC wanted to win the game).
And if it means anything, he's the fastest lineman in the league according to Madden.
RT: Eric WInston
I mean, what is there to say about Eric? He's arguably the best RT in the league, he was the best lineman on an elite line that paved the way for a brutal Houston running game, and Pioli got an incredible contract for him. Oh, and he loves BBQ.
Arguments could be made that he's the best run-blocker in the league, and it would be an easy argument if we counted on RT's. He's a bully, he gets ahold of someone and just abuses them. Flips them around, puts them on the ground, or just puts that 320 pounds on them to wear them down. For some other thoughts, Dan Dierdorf has oftentimes likened Eric Winston to himself in his playing days... yeah. The best RT in the history of the NFL says Eric Winston is a lot like himself. Winston is simply an animal in the running game, and a ferocious animal at that.
His pass-blocking is where he sorta takes a step down, but it's still a hell of an improvement over B-Rich. He gets beat sometimes, but for the most part he does a good job.
From what I've seen he's very good on the second level. His tall, wide frame helps him in sealing the edge and allowing runners to go off of his hip, and very rarely does a defender disengage from one of his blocks.
And besides his on the field stuff, he seems like a great, funny guy who I am glad is a Kansas City Chief.
Overall analysis of the 2012 O-line: Very good. With Lilja, we still have a great line. In my opinion if he get Glenn or Zeitler it becomes an elite line, and if DeCastro even becomes remotely close to what I'm expecting we have the best line in the league, 2003 style. They're strong, athletic, mobile. physical, aggressive, and smart. They've also got some great blocking TE's and receivers to help them out, along with hopefully Owen Schmitt. Can't wait to see them wreck defenses come September. Which brings me to my next point, what you've all been waiting for...
Why drafting a guard with the 11th pick is perfectly reasonable.
Here we go. It always ends up being a topic in the draft threads that is widely discussed, so I figured I'd make a post about it. So...
Reason 1: DeCastro will most assuredly be the Best Player Available. Unless RGIII, Luck or Kalil drop to us, DeCastro is the best guy we could get. He's the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson, and you could make a case he's an even better one. He's one of the best guard prospects in the history of the National Football League. I simply don't see how people don't think he'd be a good pick. He simply doesn't make mistakes, like ever.
Reason 2: He fills a position
of need that could use improvement. Lilja was a weak point of our line, and every one of our weak points has been addressed except for Lilja. The fact that we invited all of these tackles to visit us in FA but not a single guard tells me that Pioli is planning on addressing this issue in the draft.
Reason 3: He is a very good physical specimen. Goes along with reason 1, but this is just to highlight his Combine numbers. Of course you have to bring up his 34 reps on the bench press (second best among O-linemen), but he was also the best/among the best at short shuttle, 10-yard dash and the 3 cones drill, which highlights how agile he is. He had a mediocre 5.34 40 yard dash, but that's really not that important with linemen. The fact that he's so strong and agile sells him to me.
Reason 4: He helps the running game a lot. Whether it's his drive-blocking for Hillis or his pulling and trapping for Jamaal, he will help the running game. He will almost assuredly be a better drive-blocker, and his ceiling as a mobile guard is still much higher than Lilja's. A mauler like DeCastro could seriously help an already dangerous running game.
Reason 5: He helps the passing game a lot: Once again, his ceiling as a pass protector is 5x that of Lilja's. He's been a brick wall for Luck and will help form a pocket that Matt hasn't had here that he so desperately loved (and succeeded with) in New England.
Reason 6: He helps bulk up the interior line. The biggest problem with our line last year (besides Barry) was how small and weak our interior was. we couldn't get any push off the line and got completely tossed around by big, physical defensive interiors like Miami, New England and Chicago. Wiegs was one of the problems and that has been fixed. The other was of course Lilja. DeCastro makes the interior line that much bigger and makes the line in general that much more intimidating to opposing defenses.
Reason 7: Who else would we REALLY pick? A QB? Yeah right. As much as we'd like one people need to stop acting like that's a possibility. Crennell has all but straight up said that either Cassel, Quinn or Stanzi will be playing in 2012 and no one else. RB? Why, when we can get a guy like Robert Turbin, LaMichael James or Isaiah Pead later? WR? No, just straight up no. We have a great receiving corps. C? Doubt it. T? Once again, why would we do that? DE? Possible, but when it comes to run-stopping which is what we REALLY want out of our DE's, Dorsey and T-Jax are good. NT? Another possibility, but Poe is really the only one worth taking here and he's still more suited to DE. Plus, he's a GIGANTIC risk. OLB? Doubt it, we've already got a deadly pass-rushing duo and very good depth. ILB? Possible, but DJ is arguably the best LB in the league and he wouldn't have been able to do it without Belcher's help. Plus, we don't know what we have in Siler. CB? Why? We have some very good CB's and good depth. Too much money in CB's. S? No. Anything else? No. So there. We could potentially trade down (which I could see us doing), but...
Reason 8: We will not be able to trade down and stilll get DeCastro. If we pass on him in favor of trading down, there is a 0% chance he gets past Seattle, Chicago, Arizona, Dallas, Cincy, and even Baltimore. Not a possibility. There's even speculation as to whether he gets to us, he could be drafted by Washington, Carolina, Buffalo or Jacksonville.
Reason 9: Not really a reason, but an argument to the "played in a weak conference/against weak competition" debate. Fact is, he was so dominant in that "weak conference" that I have no doubts about his abilites, and he played an elite DT (Alameda Ta'Amu) and completely destroyed him. And besides, why doesn't the same argument affect Luck? People are just coming up with reasons to not do it now out of thin air.
Reason 10: He "completes" the O-line. I can already see Brskr scowling at that. But seriously, left guard is the one spot that we need filled to make a great line elite, and if you can control the LOS you can control the game. Elite line=Elite offense.
Reason 11: More of an observation, but all the best offenses have/had very good interior lines. Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, Houston, Carolina, Philadelphia.