From the FanPosts -Joel
As the end of the 2013 season gets closer and closer,
the numerous draftniks, free agent watch dogs, and coaching fanboys here on AP are gearing up for the endless debates about who should be targeted in the upcoming offseason. Intense strategies, that will never be heard by anyone of any importance, will be drawn up on the best ways for the Chiefs to improve moving forward. Terms like "Quarterback of the future (QBOTF)", "natural position", "ceiling/floor", "injury concerns", "fits the scheme", "for what we do", and "sleeper" will be thrown around all over AP ... to the point that many of the more casual readers will probably get sick of it. But what can I say? Some of us absolutely love the schemes, planning, and intricacies associated with running an NFL franchise.
After hitting on our big three needs and the offensive line, where we still need a lot of depth, it's time to round out where the Chiefs can make some other moves in preparing for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of QB, RB, TE, NT, OLB, ILB, CB, SS and the ST to see what is out there that might help give us a boost moving forward. Did you really think I was going to do an individual post on each position? I do have a couple things in my life besides AP.
We know what we have, and we should always be looking to get better.
*Notes: Lock = Player is definitely on the team in 2014. Probable = Player should be back, but could be a surprise move. Up For Grabs = Open competition. Open = Player should not be brought back.
QB: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, and Tyler Bray - It's safe to say that Alex Smith has earned his spot on the 2014 roster. He was a major catalyst in the Chiefs' turnaround, and his play got much stronger as the year went on. Chase Daniel didn't do anything to lose his job, but he has a terrible contract and we could use that money elsewhere. Tyler Bray is the real wild card here. This guy has the potential to be anything from an elite QB to a nobody, and we won't get a real feel for where he's at until next year. However, the Chiefs are not chained to either of these backups. 1 lock, 1 probable, and 1 spot up for grabs.
RB: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray, and Anthony Sherman - Charles and Sherman should be no-brainers to bring back. Charles was responsible for 35% of our offense, and I don't see how we would be able to replace that right now. Sherman came out and took everyone by surprise and was one of the best FBs in the NFL this year. Knile Davis' season is pretty much a 100% match to his scouting report. Incredible talent, strength, and speed...but struggles with ball security and injuries. He's good enough to be the backup for now and should be the KR in 2014. Cyrus Gray is probably out. I don't see any reason to hold on to him and expect he will be replaced by a late round draft pick or UDFA. 2 locks, 1 probable, and 1 spot open.
TE: Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, and Sean McGrath - There have been some calls to let Fasano go, but you need a veteran presence at each position and he is one of the more reliable players in the league. I expect he will be back in 2014. Kelce never got a chance to show what he can do, so there are some question marks there. But the Chiefs did show some confidence in him, so I think he's likely a lock for the roster next year. McGrath became a folk hero early on, but his play did taper off a little at the end of the year. Of course, some of that was the return of Fasano to the lineup. He's done enough to be given a shot next year, but the Chiefs shouldn't chain themselves to him. 2 probables and 1 spot up for grabs.
NT: Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard, and Jerrell Powe - Obviously, "Dontario" (as he is apparently known in the sports broadcasting world) is sticking around, and hopefully for a long time. Howard didn't show me much of anything beyond his ability to keep Powe off of the roster for pretty much the entire season...which doesn't say many good things about Powe. 1 lock and 2 spots open.
OLB: Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Frank Zombo, Dezman Moses, and Josh Martin - Houston and Hali are both likely to return in 2014, although Hali could be dangled on the trade market. Of the backups, Josh Martin was the one who impressed me the most, and I think he gets himself a roster spot in 2014. Frank Zombo should get a camp invite, but the Chiefs should be ready to upgrade on him without much consideration. Moses seems like he's just another body on the roster at this point. 1 lock, 2 probables, 1 spot up for grabs, and 1 spot open.
ILB: Derrick Johnson, Akeem Jordan, Nico Johnson, and James-Michael Johnson - DJ is definitely a lock to return in 2014 as the captain of the defense. Akeem Jordan was about average this year, but I expect the Chiefs will want to see something better there next year. Hopefully that is either Nico or James-Michael Johnson. I think both of them have a good shot at making the 2014 team, but neither position is safe at this point. 1 lock and 3 spots up for grabs.
CB: Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Marcus Cooper, Dunta Robinson, and Ron Parker - Flowers and Smith should both be locks on the 2014 roster, but Flowers could be a trade option. Cooper showed enough that I think the Chiefs will want to keep him around. Ron Parker flashed talent, but never enough to get significant playing time. And Robinson is pretty much on his way out. 1 lock, 2 probables, 1 spot up for grabs and 1 spot open.
SS: Eric Berry - Yeah...so we really only had one SS on the roster, and he's definitely coming back. There could be room for another SS on the roster if we feel confident about FS in 2014, but it's a limited draft class and the Free Agent market isn't all that impressive either. 1 lock and 1 spot up for grabs (combined with FS).
ST: Dustin Colquitt, Ryan Succop, and Thomas Gafford - Between their performance and contracts, every single one of these guys will be back on the 2014 roster. Colquitt just got re-signed and Gafford has never caused us any problems. Even if you don't like Succop, are you willing to blow an extra $1 million to get rid of him? 3 locks.
So that's where I see the roster breaking down at. I've got 13 spots on the roster that should be locked up and another 8 that are likely to be back. But, as you can see, there are plenty of openings or positions that should be contested. That's actually not too bad of a situation and means that there will be plenty of competition in training camp. Of course, we've already seen that the Chiefs are being proactive by signing so many future/reserve contracts before this season is technically over.
First Stop: Free Agency - Instead of breaking down each option like I did with the individual position posts, I'm going to list a few free agents at each position with a brief synopsis of what I think we're looking for.
QB: Matt Flynn - GB, Rex Grossman - WAS, Seneca Wallace - GB, and Derek Anderson - CAR: The Chiefs don't need a starting QB, but a cost effective veteran with some starting experience could be idea depending on Tyler Bray's development. Any of these four players would likely cost less than Chase Daniel without being a step backwards in talent.
RB: Ronnie Brown - ARI, Toby Gerhart - MIN, LeGarrette Blount - NE, Felix Jones - PIT, and Jonathan Dwyer - PIT: A lot of this depends on the confidence the Chiefs have in Knile Davis moving forward. As I mentioned above, he flashed some great talent, but also the fumble and injury concerns that were his red flags. Cyrus Gray is more than likely gone, so adding a guy like Ronnie Brown or Felix Jones on a short term deal might not be a bad investment if Davis doesn't look 100%.
TE: Dante Rosario - CHI, Bear Pascoe - NYG, and Fred Davis - WAS: I don't see any situation where the Chiefs open up the check book on a TE this offseason, so we shouldn't look any higher than mid-level players that are cost effective. I don't see any of these guys being a better option than what we already have, but they could be cheaper options than Fasano which would open the door to drafting a TE early (as I have seen many of you calling for).
NT: Terrence Cody - BAL: There isn't much out there in terms of affordable 3-4 NTs. However, "Mt Cody" could be an option. He hasn't done enough to warrant a big contract at all, but with his size, he could be a big asset as a backup player and a short yardage/goalline specialist.
OLB: Edgar Jones - DAL, Albert McClellan - BAL, and Marcus Bernard - ARI: Unless Tamba Hali is traded, the Chiefs are only going to be looking at backups in Free Agency. Jones has the obvious familiarity with the Chiefs, and it would be kind of a nice twist to get him back after getting a 6th rd pick for him. McClellan and Bernard are both talented young players who have the potential to become starters.
ILB: Nick Barnett - WAS, Desmond Bishop - MIN, Brandon Spikes - NE, Karlos Dansby - ARI, Jon Beason - NYG, and Pat Angerer - IND: The question is how badly do we want an upgrade over Akeem Jordan? I don't see it as being a huge issue, and I think our 2014 starter is already on the roster. However, if we could get one of those players listed on a reasonable deal, it could be worth the investment.
CB: Antoine Cason - ARI, Captain Munnerlyn - CAR, Drayton Florence - CAR, Chris Carr - NO, and Sam Shields - GB: CB has become a seemingly hot topic here on AP. Some people think we need 4 starting caliber CBs. Some folks think it's time to move on from Brandon Flowers. Some think we should stand fast with what we've got. Some think we have the worst CB setup in the league. There are some options in Free Agency, and adding someone like Captain Munnerlyn as our #3/#4 CB would be a big push towards tightening up our secondary.
SS: Bernard Pollard - TEN, Major Wright - CHI, Yeremiah Bell - ARI, and Quintin Mikell - CAR: Taking over for Brandon Albert in the "natural position" category is Eric Berry. If Berry gets moved to more of a FS role, then the Chiefs will have to bring in a decent SS to take his spot, and there really aren't any in the draft. There is also a limited market at SS in Free Agency this year, so the Chiefs would have to pay more than normal for any additions.
Ultimately, I don't see the Chiefs bringing in much in terms of top talent via Free Agency. They did that last year and will probably stick with what is already on the roster for the most part. I expect one big signing at one of our big need positions (WR, FS, or DE) and then a few role players on cost-effective contracts.
Next Stop: The Draft - Rather than list all the prospects, I'm just going to list the players I think are the best option at each of our picks (based on their projected draft positions). To mix it up a bit, I'll indicate which player I think is the best option of the group.
Derek Carr - Fresno St - 1st Rd: If he does fall to #23, the Chiefs could be tempted to look to the future.
AJ McCarron - Alabama - 3rd Rd: Could be the best bang-for-buck QB in the draft if gotten in the 3rd.
David Fales - SJSU - 4th Rd: Boom or bust player. Has a lot of same problems as Tyler Wilson (and lord knows I was wrong about him).
Aaron Murray - Georgia - 5th Rd: How the mighty have fallen. There were people who wanted the Chiefs to take him with the #1 overall pick in 2013.
Connor Shaw - South Carolina - 6th Rd (CC's Choice): Move over Johnny...it's Connor Football time. This guy is a gamer with underrated skills.
Stephen Morris - Miami - 6th Rd: Started the season as a "lock" to go in the 1st rd.
1st Rd - No Options: If we reach on a RB in a draft with no 1st rd RB talent...that might be my breaking point.
Lache Seastrunk - Oregon - 3rd Rd: Seen him mocked as high as the 1st rd (haha, Browns).
James Wilder Jr - Florida St - 4th Rd: Not a bad option at all for a backup.
Antonio Andrews - Western Kentucky - 5th Rd (CC's Choice): Knile? Is that you? Great athletic ability...fumbles...Bobby Petrino...5'10, 225 lbs...yep, that's a Knile Davis clone.
Tyler Gaffney - Stanford - 6th Rd: Short yardage back. Could be a great goal line weapon.
Storm Johnson - UCF - 6th Rd: Great example of how devalued RB is in the draft. Late round steal right here.
Eric Ebron - North Carolina - 1st Rd: Doubt he's available at #23, but if he is, definitely worth thinking about.
CJ Fiedorowicz - Iowa - 3rd Rd: Iowa puts out some good TEs. Not the best, but maybe the most complete TE in the draft.
Marcel Jensen - Fresno ST - 4th Rd (CC's Choice): Could be a great steal. Seems to have all the talent you want...so why didn't he get the playing time?
Joe Don Duncan - Dixie St - 5th Rd: Broke every school receiving record in 2011...and then did it again in 2013.
Richard Rodgers - Cal - 6th Rd: Good athleticism and should be comfortable being split out...needs to add some weight back after playing WR though.
Jacob Pedersen - Wisconsin - 6th Rd: Athletic, but doesn't have a great build for the position.
Louis Nix - Notre Dame - 1st Rd: Everything Terrence Cody was supposed to be...except he's actually good.
Daniel McCullers - Tennessee - 3rd Rd: HULK SMASH!!! Dude is just plain big and strong.
Justin Ellis - Louisiana Tech - 4th Rd (CC's Choice): I predict that he will get the "Dancing Bear" tag from Mike Mayock...and deservedly so.
Ryan Carrethers - Arkansas St - 5th Rd: Tackling machine. This is what you like to see in a backup.
Eathyn Manumaleuna - BYU - 6th Rd: More of a DE, but can add size to be a utility d-lineman.
Zack Kerr - Delaware - 6th Rd: Could be an FCS diamond in the rough.
Ryan Shazier - Ohio St - 1st Rd: Makes a lot of plays in the backfield...exactly what you want in an OLB.
Jeremiah Attaochu - Georgia Tech - 3rd Rd: Has every physical tool you could want at OLB. Could be perfect player to groom behind Tamba.
Morgan Breslin - Southern Cal - 4th Rd (CC's Choice): Injury is the only reason he's projected in the 4th. Potential steal right here.
Prince Shembo - Notre Dame - 5th Rd: Good option as a backup. Jack of all trades, master of none. High effort player.
Kasim Edebali - Boston College - 6th Rd: Understands how to create pressure even when he can't get the sack.
Tyler Starr - South Dakota - 6th Rd: FCS star. Productive and has a talent for forcing fumbles.
CJ Moseley - Alabama - 1st Rd: Just an all around stud at LB. Really don't think he's even available at #23.
Shayne Skov - Stanford - 3rd Rd (CC's Choice): If Skov is available when we draft in the 3rd, it's a huge steal.
DeDe Lattimore - USF - 4th Rd: Physical and a good tackler. Better than Nico or Akeem? Eh...I don't think so.
Ronald Powell - Florida - 5th Rd: Projected as an OLB, I think he actually projects better on the inside. Should be a good blitzer vs run and pass.
Preston Brown - Louisville - 6th Rd: Athletic and productive, but definitely a backup caliber player.
Jeremiah George - Iowa St - 6th Rd: It's a weak class this year, but George could be a quality late round pickup.
Justin Gilbert - Oklahoma St - 1st Rd: Is he available at #23? Tough to say, but he's worth a look if he is. Also offers ST value.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste - Nebraska - 3rd Rd (CC's Choice): Has the size that Dorsey likes...just wish he used it correctly. Also a potential option at FS.
Deion Belue - Alabama - 4th: Almost like a bigger Brandon Flowers. Uses technique to make up for lack of size.
Lavelle Westbrooks - Georgia Southern - 5th: Versatile player with CB and S experience. Good option as a #3/#4 DB.
Walt Aikens - Liberty - 6th: Excellent athlete who needs some coaching. Has all the physical ability needed to be a talent.
Carrington Byndom - Texas - 6th: Would be overwhelmed on the outside, but good option in the slot against shifty WRs.
1st Rd - No Options: As I have already mentioned, it's just a weak class at SS this year.
3rd Rd - No Options: Some will ask about Jimmie Ward here...refer to the FS post. Again, just a weak class at SS.
Craig Loston - LSU - 4th Rd: Reminds me a lot (too much) of Demps. Good athleticism but lacks understanding of the game.
Vinnie Sunseri - Alabama - 5th Rd (CC's Choice): Might be the best SS in the class. Injuries are why he's projected in the 5th. If available here, he's definitely worth it...probably worth it in the 4th or 3rd as well.
Alden Darby - Arizona St - 6th Rd: Signature game came against a struggling Southern Cal team. After that, not much to speak of.
Hakeem Smith - Louisville - 6th Rd: Solid tackler, but nothing about him really stands out.
So there are certainly a number of players to keep your eye on as we move towards the draft. While most fans generally focus on our "positions of need", it never fails that there are always one or two picks that nobody saw coming (FB anybody?). Hopefully this list provides some decent intel for those of you who are preparing your mock drafts.
For more coverage, check out the previously published editions of "Looking Ahead"