With the 2012 NFL Draft only two weeks away the Kansas City Chiefs are at NFL DRAFTCON Level 3 and preparing to move to DRAFTCON Level 2. The KC Chief's Draft War Room is undergoing final preparations and will go into lock-down mode at 1900hrs OAT (Official Arrowhead Time) on the 26th of April. The Chief's front office have been conducting Draft Espionage, Surveillance and Counter-Surveillance for quite some time now and after "The Jump" we will break down some of the options that the Kansas City Chiefs might face before the first day.
After Roger Goodell steps up the podium at Radio City Music Hall and announces the official beginning of the 2012 NFL Draft the pressure will be on the front offices of all 32 NFL franchises. Owners, General Managers, Head Coaches and Scouts will all look to their draft boards and attempt make the moves to put their team on the road to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the 2012 NFL Season. Only time will tell which team flourishes and which teams flounder at their attempts. Follow me if you will as I attempt to make the decision on behalf of the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1st round of the NFL Draft.
First I will list the team's biggest areas that they can improve through the draft;
- Branden Albert has become a Top 10-15 Left Offensive Tackle for the KC Chiefs and they recently signed the best Right Offensive Tackle in the game with Eric Winston. The only reason that KC should consider drafting a OT in the first round would be if they had serious reservations of not being able to resign B. Albert during the upcoming season.
- Ryan Lilja and Jon Asamoah are the current starters for KC and can both be very serviceable. R. Lilja suffered during the 2011 NFL Season due to the weak play of C Casey Wiegmann in my opinion and could easily play at a higher level next season. KC should consider drafting a OG in the first round only if they cannot trade down or they feel strongly enough that the next step in finalizing the offense is with a 1st round OG.
- Kelly Gregg played at a serviceable level during the 2011 NFL Season. However age has caught up to him and along with thinking about retirement it is time to move on. While there are a few Defensive Tackles worthy of a 1st round pick in this NFL Draft class non fit the model of a Nose Tackle. To find a true NT KC will have to look at rounds 3-5 in the draft. If KC believes that they can draft and develop a DT from the top of the Draft into a NT that could run with KC in our system then they still might make this pick but I don't see it happening at least not with a 1st rd pick.
- Common opinion of Kansas City's current Defensive Ends (Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson) is that they are on the verge of being Draft busts not worthy of their high Draft picks. Both G. Dorsey and T. Jackson have improved their ability to stop the run but their lack of pass rush does keep them far away from the list of top DEs in the NFL. KC's defensive scheme may allow both to fit well as they are actually not asked to pass rush too much. KC allows the entire Defensive Line to simply occupy blockers and allow our LBs to rush the QB.
This option is even more intriguing when you think that G. Dorsey is only under contract for this upcoming season. Tyson Jackson is only under contract until the end of the 2013 season (and has a rather large cap number during that season). Drafting a DE in the first round could be a choice if KC decides on depth/rotation or simply drafting to allow a trade option G. Dorsey or allowing G. Dorsey to walk after this next season's end.
- Jovan Belcher and Brandon Siler will presumably have a camp battle this off-season to determine the starting ILB position next to Derreck Johnson. J. Blecher was serviceable during the 2012 NFL Season. B. Siler was injured (Achilies Tendon Rupture) before the season began and KC never got a good look at him in the position. This position is my personal favorite as a target to draft for within the 1st round. However with the #11 pick it would be a reach and I would rather see KC trade down then target their man.
- Brandon Flowers still commands a starting role for the 2013 NFL Season. Brandon Carr left KC in Free Agency and was replaced by CB Stanford Routt just before Free Agency started. The CB position seems to be in capable hands for the most part, but with the addition of QB Peyton Manning in Denver a team can never have too much talent. This is a unlikely choice in my opinion but one that I wouldn't be 100% shocked to see.
Overall I believe that Kansas City has numerous options on the table. However those options will depend on the ten teams drafting ahead of them. Below is how I see the first round panning out;
#1 - Andrew Luck (QB) to Indianapolis
#2 - Ryan Griffin III (QB) to Washington
#3 - Matt Kalil (OT) to Minnesota
#4 - Ryan Tannehill (QB) to Cleveland
#5 - Morris Claiborne (CB) to Tampa Bay
#6 - Justin Blackmon (WR) to Saint Louis
#7 - Michael Floyd (WR) to Jacksonville
#8 - Melvin Ingram (DE/OLB) to Miami
#9 - Fletcher Cox (DT) to Carolina
#10 - Riley Reiff (OT) to Buffalo
With the #11 pick (and if the above list were to be true) KC would have the choice between the following players commonly mocked near #11 and that fit postions that KC could upgrade;
OG - David DeCastro
DT - Dontari Poe
DT - Michael Brockers
ILB - Luke Kuechly
DE/OLB - Courtney Upshaw
DE - Quinton Coples
CB - Dre Kirkpatrick
When looking at the possibilities that could play out during the 1st round and the pertinacity of GM Scott Pioli of attempting to trade down to acquire more draft picks I think KC will do just that, TRADE DOWN. I will defer to S. Pioli to work out the trade best for KC but I do believe that when attempting a trade he will target the #17-21 range (which would put Cincinnati as ideal partners). At that spot I think KC would take;
ILB Dont'a Hightower - Alabama
By choosing this path KC will grab the #2 ILB overall and arguably the #1 ILB if you look at KC's defensive scheme. This route still leaves KC with the ability to grab a G in the 2nd Rd to possibly (depending on the pick) replace Ryan Lilja this season and if not play behind Lilja for one season and still give KC a very solid OL. The additional pick (probaly 2nd Rd but possibly even a 1st in 2013) would still give KC more options to improve the overall roster.
So that is it, that is my plan for KC in the 2012 NFL Draft 1st Round. Some may agree some may not. Some will point out that OG David DeCastro will probably be a 10+ year pro-bowler and it is crazy to pass on a guy like that. Remember here.....I don't have a GM position with a NFL team....I am just a guy that loves to talk and watch football. So everything that I have typed could be absolutely completely 100% ass backwards......but I don't care. It was fun typing this up and I hope some may have enjoyed reading it.
One or two of you may read this post and realize that I didn't list QB as a position that KC could upgrade in the 1st round. That would be absolutely correct but I will take it a step further and say that aside from the 1st or 2nd overall choice I do not see any QB from the 2012 NFL Draft class being a guy that KC could turn into their Franchise QB. I honestly don't think KC can find a guy to take that job because they have a guy in place. That is right our very own Ricky Stanzi is the guy KC will turn into a Franchise QB.
The 2012 NFL Season will see QB Matt Cassel do his best to avoid injuries. M. Cassel is more than capable (see 2010) of managing this offense and should put up the best numbers of his career with the off-season additions made. I believe that the Front Office brought QB Brady Quinn into KC (on a one year contract) to simply be a insurance plan in case M. Cassel is injured.
In 2011 fans were shocked to see Tyler Palko starting after Matt Cassel went down with a injury. Obviously Ricky Stanzi must be complete crap if he couldn't beat T. Palko for the starting job.....right? WRONG, Todd Haley (at the time) and the Front Office were/are determined to allow R. Stanzi to develop. R. Stanzi will only benefit from that decision along with being allowed to develop for the entire 2012 season too.
Coming out of college R. Stanzi was projected as a 3rd Rd QB and actually compared to T. Brady. NO I don't think he will be on the same level as T. Brady (as some have said, that talent doesn't come around too often). Kansas City was thrilled when he fell to the 5th Round and #135 overall. With proper development of his known weaknesses which out of college were Arm Strength and Decision Making he can be a Franchise QB. Those two weaknesses are things that can be coached up and conditioned out.
Ricky Stanzi may very well (or Brady Quinn for that matter) push Matt Cassel for the starting position this season. However I see it happening like this; Stanzi will surpass Quinn on the depth charts sometime around Week 12 this season. At the end of the season Matt Cassel will still be the starter (barring injury).
2013 will be the last year of Matt Cassel's contract and his last year with KC. IF Stanzi is not ready in 2013 then he will be the backup for Cassel and will take the job in 2014. Ricky Stanzi wears #13 for a reason if you don't already know....it signifies the year (2013) in-which KC will start it's first FRANCHISE QB since Len Dawson.
Thanks for reading well beyond the content that I had originally decided to post and into my own personal mad thoughts.