From the diaries. Also, there is a new poll up because the last one was pretty much meaningless. -Chris
"...and with the 85th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select SS Greg Wesley from Arkansas-Pine Bluff."
Ever since that day seven years ago, the Chiefs inherited an enigma of a football player. A young man, physically gifted in all areas of the secondary; he was strong and instinctual enough to lay big hits across the secondary, and fast and athletic enough to ballhawk at FS. For a secondary that needed the depth, Wesley was practically guaranteed a starting spot from his first steps onto the Arrowhead pitch.
But since that pick, and during the many experiences that followed, Chiefs fans simply haven't known what to think of Greg Wesley. They seem to unanimously chime in, however, that he simply no longer belongs. That does make the assumption, however, that Wesley ever fit in KC to begin with, an idea that no Chiefs fan can really settle either way.
This evening, I take a deeper look into the Greg Wesley situation. The Chiefs are looking to trade him, and Denver looks like the place he's going if we do. But what exactly do we have in Wes? How would the Broncos' value that? What can we realistically get from them, and how would it improve this team?
What do the Chiefs have in Greg Wesley?
In the simplest terms, Wes is a physically gifted athlete with a questionable cranium. Wes is a tall 6'2", and a big 206 lbs. He's got the strength to punish across the middle and to be lethal in run support, and held down SS for his first 5 years, registering a record number of tackles for a Chiefs rookie and second-year player, and even logging a 100-tackle season in 2003. He's got the speed and the hands to be an effective ballhawk, tallying 29 INTs over seven years, and was easily able to shift over to FS when Sammy Knight came aboard. And he's an iron man that rarely gets injured; you know you're going to see him at least 14 games every season.
His physicality and athleticism are unquestioned. But the man's brain is where our issues lie. It's not that he has his good games and his bad games -- that's not a problem. It's that his bad games have consistently cost the team games. He sleeps through some series, getting repeatedly way out of position or covering the wrong part of the field -- the Ravens beat the Chiefs in 2006 off a long-bomb to a WR wide open about 10 yards past Wes that he never seemed to have located, and after the reception Wes didn't even try to chase him down.
His effort and dedication to the Chiefs hasn't been there. There have been many occasions where, for all his strength, he didn't even try to tackle (see: Derek Anderson's lumbering scrambling in the Chiefs' 2006 loss to Cleveland, or Tiki Barber simply slipping through Wes' arms to run for 200 yards in 2005). In addition, he's rarely shown a positive passion on the field for any play in which he wasn't directly involved, and on more than one occasion he's been a source of intra-team conflict in the secondary.
Where does the Chiefs' secondary stand?
This is the first time in Wes' career as a Chief were he is not a crucial component of Kansas City's secondary. For years he inherited his starting position over inferior athletes and Dick Vermeil's horrendous crop of Ss and CBs. But with the arrival of Herm Edwards in 2006 came two rookie safeties (SS Bernard Pollard and FS Jarrad Page) that, for the first time in seven years, could match Wesley's power and ability. In addition, both players show an intensity for victory and a positive attitude in the locker room. Wesley's grip on the starting spot, if he heads to River Falls, is tenuous at best.
Providing some backup in case Wesley is departed would be the capable SS Jon McGraw, a former second-rounder from the Jets who's an even taller athlete with exeptional abilities with a hard-on for big hits and an exemplary personality. The Chiefs have also acquired S Chad Williams, a six-year vet out of San Francisco who's nothing special, but would only be responsible for spot duty.
It's CB is where the Chiefs are empty-handed. They sport two veteran Pro Bowlers, Patrick Surtain and Ty Law, but behind them is a cast of blue collar nobodies and second-year disappointments. Benny Sapp is the consensus NCB after Lenny Walls was thankfully thrown back into FA. But Sapp's nothing special, and the guys behind him (Michael Bragg, Marcus Maxey, Justin Phinisee, Ty Brackenridge, Tony Franklin) are either underachievers, nonachievers, or UDFAs.
The Chiefs are hurting at CB. Herm Edwards has shown that he would rather overwork his starters than to play backups who have no chance to play well on the field (LJ broke the single-season carries record and the DL was exhausted due to the fact they only had five competent players to fill in the four available positions). This bodes poorly for the aging Surtain (31) and Law (33). The Chiefs need help ASAP.
Where does the Broncos' secondary stand?
The Broncos are in the exact opposite position as the Chiefs in the secondary. Instead of a promising collection of safeties and a shallow field of corners, the Broncos are fairly deep at corner and struggling at safety.
At corner, Champ Bailey and Dre Bly form the most formidable CB duos the league has ever seen. Backing them up are a pair of 3rd rounders from 2005, Domonique Foxworth and Karl Paymah. Both backups have seen significant time. Foxworth is a promising young guy who the Broncos nonetheless felt wasn't ready for the starting job, bringing in Dre Bly. But Foxworth has produced good numbers for both seasons and is by all accounts an above-average third option, an ascending talent. Paymah hasn't got as much playing time, but has been adequate in the snaps he's taken.
The Broncos also signed a trio of young CBs from NFL Europe that they have mild hopes for. Lamont Reid has NFL experience for the Cardinals and could probably make the team. Kevin House and Bill Alford seem to be empty shirts.
At safety, the Broncos are depleted. SS John Lynch has had as fine a career as any safety in NFL history, and he should hold down his position this year, but he's not the force he used to be. Nick Ferguson is the very model of inconsistently, but he is not a talent brimming with upside and might be better served as a backup. Their best backup SS, Sam Brandon, just got suspended two games, leaving Denver's backfield even more naked than before. Curome Cox is ascending, and might develop to be a good FS, but at this point has a lot to prove.
What's a plausible trade these two teams could work out?
The Chiefs have been in the hunt for picks since Herm's arrival. There has yet to be a single trade executed during the Herm Edwards era that brought in a veteran. Carl's traded for picks in a decided effort to "youthen" up this team. The Chiefs want a draft pick, and recently the Denver Post disclosed that "[t]he Broncos likely are offering a low-round pick and perhaps a backup player," and "[t]he Chiefs are looking for help at cornerback."
Considering the wealth and weaknesses of each of these teams' secondaries, a trade that included a draft pick and/or a backup player might actually benefit both teams -- rare, especially when the teams in question are hated rivals.
What possible trades could happen, then?
Greg Wesley for a 2008 5th rounder. Wes is a probable starter if he is traded to Denver by the end of the week. He may not unseat Lynch but he's equally adept at FS and can beat out Ferguson or provide depth at SS. If the Broncos were looking for legitimate compensation for a player that will play such a sizeable role, they'd have to offer a 5th if they only wanted to trade away a pick. The Broncos get depth, and the Chiefs can continue to get younger.
Greg Wesley for Domonique Foxworth, straight up. The Chiefs are set at S, and the Broncos are set at CB. The Chiefs could spare Wes to build up their weak CB unit, and the Broncos could spare Fox to beef up their S. There's a legitimate belief that Paymah could serve fine as the Broncos' #3 CB in Fox's absense, and Reid could hold his own in spot duty. Meanwhile, Fox will prevent the Chiefs from overworking their starting vets, and Sapp is suitable for spot duty.
Greg Wesley for Karl Paymah and a 7th rounder. Unlike the first two deals, which I believe to be an equal bargain for both teams, this deal would heavily favor Denver. By simply sacrificing a garbage draft pick and an underachiever who Foxworth is outplaying anyway, the Broncos can give their starving safety position much needed experience and talent. Herm might believe he can turn Paymah into a solid backup, and as a young guy, it's entirely possible he's got the talent to fit that role.
Greg Wesley for Lamont Reid and a 5th. This is a deal that would favor the Chiefs. The Chiefs must believe that a 5th is fair compensation for a starter with an attitude problem on and off the field, but to throw in Reid and adding another body to the faceless CB crowd behind Law & Surtain that might somehow surprise everybody would be icing on the cake.