From the FanPosts -Joel
One thing that I've taken note of is the fans demand for a WR in the 1st round of this year's NFL draft. As someone who has had a job working with college talent and has a decent understanding of the Chiefs offense and Alex Smith, I'm not sure if a late 1st round WR will solve the problems they seem to have.
Chiefs fans have one thing that they should be very happy about -- they know that Alex Smith is their starter in 2014.
I'll go one notch further. Alex Smith has the talent to win playoff games -- and a Super Bowl.
UNDERSTANDING ALEX SMITH
There are a lot of hindsight statements about Smith. That he's not the star of the offense. That he can't throw a deep ball. That he's a game manager. That he's a product of Jim Harbaugh.
Sometimes we will treat the NFL like a soap opera and make predictions about personalities / characteristics.
1) Smith is very good at timing routes
Although the deep ball is the home run of the NFL, timing routes (hitch, curl, comeback) are the RBIs and singles that help you become a dominant team. Smith's timing routes not only have an insane amount of accuracy, but their location is usually at a place that prevents INTs. Turnovers will take you out of the ball game.
2) Smith feels pressure very well
There are very few quarterbacks in the league that can feel pressure and execute timing routes. Smith can roll out fairly easily.
3) Smith plays his best game against the safeties.
Smith's play action and mis-direction can help the WRs be one step ahead of the safeties at all times. Not only does this mean that they'll be open, but if everything is properly done, they'll be able to get YAC after the catch (prevent them from a hard knock from the safety in the middle).
4) Smith adjusts his game quarter to quarter
This was a problem Matt Cassel had. He was so one note that he got frustrated when things didn't work. Smith, on the other hand, changes up signals and routes as the quarters go by. This is what has gotten him chances in the 4th quarter.
WHERE IT DIDN'T WORK
A) The Chiefs were never down early in many of their first 7 games. They ran more.
B) The Chiefs had gone from a stylized slant and go offense to a timing route offense. They grew into a team that could score 30 points a game by the end of the season, but yet they weren't at 100 percent full potential .
C) It seemed like Andy Reid wanted to keep Dwayne Bowe as healthy as possible this past season. Rarely would he throw him to the wolves. Very different than his old style. The 180 of Todd Haley.
D) Although Dexter McCluster had his best season as a Chief, he still isn't sound as a WR. Many WRs are crapshoots in the NFL. Their numbers and highlights in college are hard to gauge because secondaries are not as fast and don't make contact as much. McCluster found himself with fewer drops but also fewer open opportunities.
Former GM Scott Pioli's WRs were speed first, fundamentals second.
IMPROVEMENT / WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT IN 2014
We all remember drops / throw aways / and Smith running out of bounds for a 2-3 yard gain.
1. Offensive Line Play Can And Must Become Stronger As A Unit -
Although you would think that Smith can handle the pass because he scrambles, "timed" routes require the quarterback to have proper footwork in place.
O-line play in the 1st half of the season prevented some of the timing routes from being thrown. Smith would throw the ball away or dump it off to a FB / HB.
2. Understanding Travis Kelce
I know a lot of Chiefs fans were excited about Travis Kelce. But I'm not sure if they understood the reason why they should be.
As mentioned, timing routes are crucial in Alex Smith's game plan. Whereas many offenses -- a la Andy Reid's Philadelphia Eagles -- will send a WR deep on a passing down, Smith's skills offer an intriguing alternative.
Whereas TEs in the NFL are slant and delayed route runners, Kelce has a talent that very few have.
While the safeties stay on Bowe / McCluster / Anthony Fasano running three timed routes on a passing down, Kelce will wheel 15-20 yards deep. Safeties and linebackers usually expect the drop off man to stay within a five yard pocket of the QB. Smith can run or throw it away. And a healthy Travis Kelce can "weasel" their way into an open patch of uncovered grass better than any TE / H-Back / WR in some time.
Kelce's injury was likely a heartbreaking blow to the offense. Not only can he run block, but he has rare skills that mainstream TEs don't have.
Kelce might never be the prototypical No.1 TE , but he'll have a career with numbers similar to if not better than Delanie Walker or Frank Wycheck.
WHAT ARE THE "REAL" NEEDS?
*** Let's pretend that Bowe, AJ Jenkins - and 1 of 3 McCluster / Avery / Hemingway are back.
Don't Stress About Not Having The Next Tavon Austin or Calvin Johnson. Focus on finding Doug Baldwin.
Although Sammy Watkins and Marquise Lee will surely be seen on SportsCenter in the near future, neither can help their team get into a Super Bowl.
In fact, the more you study WRs, you realize that it's about "the core" than the all-star.
Of the names that you'll be hearing pleas for, I'm not sure if any of them would have a 500-plus yard season in Andy Reid's offense.
Davante Adams, Fresno St , WR
Of the top 10 WRs ranked by Pro Football Talk, Adams stood out in two areas.
1) His ability to fake out the corner on a timed route.
2.) His positioning when he caught the ball.
Adams is a great WR to have on 3rd down. He has a lot of confidence but cares as much for the "catch" as he does the big play. He doesn't offer much on special teams, and for many West Coast Offenses, he'd be a 1-2 year project to get him into a 2nd WR.
Target No. 2
Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley, WR
Janis might have been the best small school WR I've seen in awhile. Might be a 4th round pick now. Could go as high as 2nd round if he has a stunning Combine (wouldn't be shocked if he did).
Solid at timing routes / hip control. But I'm most impressed with his hands. I know he's not getting as much velocity in the small school divisions, but he made a lot of hand catches when SEC guys would have used their chest. Could play multiple roles on special teams and has a body frame that could build extra muscle by the time he's out of his rookie contract.
Janis is a sturdy 220 pounds, whereas Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin WR, proj. 4th round) is 180.
Putting him in the same weight room as Dwayne Bowe would be very interesting to watch.
Kevin Norwood, Alabama, WR
Norwood is a better athlete than most think he would be. He's been sneaky in the slot / strong side for Alabama for four years. Running conventional routes and blocking. Unlike Hemingway or Dexter McCluster, Norwood would play all three WR roles in the Chiefs offense.
All three players have experience in diverse schemes and could be a 3rd or 4th target on opening day.
Probably the biggest question mark is the long term future of Anthony Fasano. He's 30 years old, but has a series of concussion and injury issues that continued on through this season. He also lead the team in drops and drop percentage. Although I don't think the Chiefs would be gambling that much with Fasano, they will have to find a weak side tight end that can block well.
The aren't options in free agency, so the Chiefs would likely have to address that in the 1st round. Which I doubt they would.
AJ Jenkins seemed to look decent in the very last two weeks. A solid off-season with Alex Smith and the rest of the core could help him find a roster spot next year.
The Chiefs offense will only thrive on depth.
The defense will thrive off of talented athletes, especially at safety and defensive end. Forming a dynasty defense should be on everyone's mind at One Arrowhead Drive. And this is a rare draft where trading up a bit to secure that athlete makes more and more sense.
Although Jamaal Charles was the No.1 WR for the Chiefs last season, expect Andy Reid to resolve that in the offseason with players already on the roster.