The release of Eric Winston is a confusing one because the Kansas City Chiefs can go in so many different directions to replace him. Do they use the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on a right tackle? Move Branden Albert to right tackle (sorry, had to ask)? Poke around in free agency? And where does Donald Stephenson fit into all of this? Let's try to tackle all those questions with
complete guessing completely accurate answers.
1. Drafting a RT at No. 1? Yes, it's possible
Yes, I think this is very possible. If I were to rank these, I'd put this as the No. 1 most-likely option right now. I need just a little bit longer to think this out before I fully state this as my case but see what you think of this theory: the Chiefs draft Luke Joeckel (or Lane Johnson or Eric Fisher, whoever it is), throw him on the right side for one year and (hopefully) work out a long-term deal with Albert. If you get a deal done with Albert then great, you have two good tackles. But even if Albert leaves via free agency you have protected yourself on the left side with Joeckel / Johnson / Fisher / whoever.
One key point to remember here is that Dorsey subscribes to the theory that you put your five best offensive linemen out on the field, regardless of tackle. Dorsey was asked by the KC Star at the NFL Combine if re-signing Albert and drafting Joeckel was an option. His answer:
"Then you have great competition at left tackle. Who's to say both of those guys are locked in to playing left tackle? Maybe one plays left guard, center, right guard, right tackle. You put your best five offensive linemen out there. There are so many options out there right now. Anything is possible.''
Like the Chiefs No. 1 pick, Dorsey likes talking about the options this brings.
Yes, I know you're not supposed to take a right tackle No. 1 overall but whatever. Look at it as taking an offensive tackle, not a right or left tackle. The Rams played No. 2 pick Jason Smith on the right side. Michael Oher was a left tackle who played right tackle for a while in the NFL. Not everyone can do it but it happens where tackles play both sides, depending on the circumstances. In this scenario, a rookie drafted No. 1 overall would clearly mean so much more in Albert insurance, so the decision would be made with the long-term implications in mind.
2. The Chiefs can still sign a starting RT in free agency
Important! This is a good year for offensive tackles hitting the market. Dorsey seemed (to me) to hint at the large number of offensive tackles available in free agency, which made me start wondering.
I don't really know who that person would be because ... well, I wasn't really looking at right tackles. Here's a list of the best available offensive linemen. The big name right tackle is Andre Smith from the Bengals. There are other, cheaper options (which is a good reminder that the Chiefs spent a lot of money on Monday).
3. Move Branden Albert to the right side?
Expect the move-Branden-Albert talk to get even heavier now. Dorsey said as recently as Tuesday night on Kevin Kietzman's show that Albert is the team's starting left tackle. Albert has consistently said he is the left tackle. I'm going to assume he's going to be the left tackle next year. Moving Albert from left to right would be a big thing and I think everyone knows that. I don't see it happening.
4. Does Donald Stephenson factor in anywhere?
This comment on AP:
Maybe. Maybe not. (How's that for analysis?)
I don't know the answer but Stephenson is a 2012 third round pick so it's absolutely worth asking. He played mostly on the left side last year backing up Albert in five games. Obviously, the wrong side. But he did play one game on the right side. It's not totally foreign. I don't know what the Chiefs current regime thinks of Stephenson as a future right tackle. Shoot, I don't know what the new Chiefs regime thinks of hardly any of these guys. Maybe he will be what we thought last year -- the swing tackle.
If the Chiefs don't sign anyone in free agency or draft a starter, Stephenson becomes a lot more interesting.