Weeeee, the offseason. River Falls approacheth, but nothing really happening in the NFL. Anybody want to talk about Michael Vick? Me neither.
Scout.com, in their similar need to kill time, have compiled position-by-position rankings across the entire NFL. I'll put up their individual rankings of the Chiefs, so feel free to weigh in.
Starting with the most important position on the football field, Scout.com is the least optimistic when it comes to the Chiefs, who they've considered as having the absolute worse QB position in the league.
With Trent Green now in Miami, it's time for the Damon Huard era in Kansas City. Filling in for Green a year ago, Huard posted a 5-3 record and looked like a competent guy who could run this offense effectively. Brodie Croyle is probably the future for the Chiefs and has better skills than Huard. While he's probably a year away from being ready, this could turn out to be a more intense training camp battle than most realize. The Chiefs will have to decide whether they can live with Croyle's growing pains or if they'll go with a less talented, but more consistent guy in Huard. Former CFL QB Casey Printers has a ton of skills, but little NFL experience. Still, he's a quality No. 3 QB.
We put the Chiefs second not because of their depth, but because of the star power they have in No. 1 RB Larry Johnson. Johnson is the No. 1 workhorse back in the NFL and set a league record last season with 416 carries. Throw in 41 receptions, and Johnson averaged nearly 29 touches per game. With veteran quarterback Trent Green gone to Miami, Johnson will be counted on for similar production in 2007. The Chiefs must avoid overworking him and get better production out of their backups. Often injured and seldom-used backup Michael Bennett has excellent speed, but he can't stay healthy. He could be a solid change-of-pace runner if he can shake the injury bug. Veteran Priest Holmes is still on the roster, but his neck injury remains a concern. Don't look for him to play anywhere in 2007.
With tight end Tony Gonzalez as their top receiving target, the Chiefs have gotten by with Eddie Kennison as their No. 1 wide receiver. But he simply is not good enough for such a role. Kansas City finally addressed this problem by selecting Dwayne Bowe in this year's draft. Although he might never be a true No. 1 receiver, Bowe is super tough, big and strong. He will help the running game and should quickly become a starter. Samie Parker has not developed into a quality starter, but should be adequate out of the slot in subpackages. Bowe has promise, but overall, there isn't a lot to get excited about here.
Tony Gonzalez is an excellent combination of size and athleticism. He has been the most productive tight end over the past 10 seasons. His red-zone numbers have been down the past two seasons, but his ability to stretch deep zones and align in several different positions within an offensive scheme make defenses have to game plan for him. He is a solid blocker and uses his length and athleticism to tie up defenders at the point of attack. His size and leaping ability make him a tough matchup for the shorter safeties and linebackers in the league. Behind Gonzalez, the Chiefs have Jason Dunn, primarily a blocker who can set the edge, and Kris Wilson, an H-back who brings versatility to the offense.
The Chiefs are going to have two new tackles in 2007: left tackle Damion McIntosh, who left the Miami Dolphins to sign with K.C., and possibly Chris Terry, who hopes to win the right tackle job vacated by the departed Kyle Turley. Neither McIntosh or Terry is considered an elite athlete and both will have to get used to playing with the rest of the line. At center, Casey Wiegmann has 11 years of experience to draw on and right guard John Welbourn is favored to return after starting four of nine games in 2006. Left guard Brian Waters has been steady in his previous seven years and appears to be solid. This is not a large unit and it needs to show more athleticism to be in the top half of the league. Last season it gave up 41 sacks while gaining 4.1 yards per carry.
Let's mosey on over to defense, where they have more of the same for our defensive line:
Under Herman Edwards, the Chiefs' defense improved from 25th to 16th last year. Defensive ends Tamba Hali and Jared Allen had solid seasons both as run stoppers and pressuring the quarterback. Hali led the team in sacks with eight in his rookie season and Allen continues to improve his game. Defensive tackles Alfonso Boone and Ron Edwards are adequate run-stoppers in the middle, but show little production as pass-rushers. The Chiefs addressed a need in the interior defensive line by drafting two excellent young prospects in Turk McBride in the second round and Tank Tyler in the third round. If these two talented youngsters can learn the scheme early, they might make a huge difference in the overall production of the Chiefs defense in 2007.
The Chiefs signed Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris to strengthen an average group of linebackers. Both players should start, with Harris manning the middle, even though he may be better suited outside. Edwards is exceptional in coverage and is a smart, productive veteran who could rub off favorably on youngster Derrick Johnson. Johnson isn't much of a physical take-on player, but he is extremely fast and excellent in pursuit. He covers a ton of ground and has a lot of playmaking ability. The Chiefs' starters should be pretty solid. Kendrell Bell is still in the mix, but seems to be a guy without a home. He has deteriorated from a physical standpoint and is not the specimen that he once was.
The Chiefs lack a true shut-down corner to match up on the outside versus the opponent's No. 1 receiver. However, they still have two experienced corners in Ty Law and Patrick Surtain who can hold up in head coach Herman Edwards' Cover 2 schemes. Law is a physical corner with outstanding instincts and pattern-recognition skills. Surtain is a solid corner who can be physical from a press alignment; he has good physical traits as an open-field tackler. Both players are on the downside of their careers. FS Greg Wesley is a physical player versus the run but is a liability in coverage in deep zones. Starting SS Bernard Pollard is a good young player who excelled on special teams last season, but he lacks experience as a starter in the NFL.
And there's not much Scout.com can do at this point to wash out the bitter taste in your mouth from their work here, but they can sure add to it with their so-so assessment of our special teams.
The big question is who will be the returner since Pro Bowler Dante Hall has been traded to the St. Louis Rams. Special-teams coach Mike Priefer did a fantastic job in 2006, his first year in Kansas City, and needs to find a replacement for Hall. Punter Dustin Colquitt's net average (39.3) in 2006 is a big improvement from his previous season. Justin Medlock was drafted in the fifth round to be the starting kicker. Safety Bernard Pollard blocked two punts and has a relentless attitude on special teams. Whoever becomes the starting punt or kickoff returner will have big shoes to fill.
But that's the offseason. There's absolutely nothing we can do a this point but wait for River Falls.
So who wants to talk about Michael Vick?