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The Question of Albert

Hey folks. Your suspicions have proven true -- there is, in fact, a new sheriff in town. Although... I honestly don't have that much authority and I'll be supplanted in a few days. So think of me as a substitute teacher, excepting that I'm not really here to teach you anything. Tell you what, just think of me as a thankful reader of Arrowhead Pride who's been given the opportunity to fill in for a few days.

Thanks to Chris for provide me the chance to once again discuss and speculate on the Red and Gold on what is, for my money, the best Chiefs blog online. I'll merely be doing my best not to stink up the joint in his absence.

And I've got to tell you, Chiefs fans, this particular Kansas City patriot is concerned about the state of our offensive line. This is not a newsflash, I know, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the Chiefs trying to rectify their problem at LT with the drafting of Virginia OL Brandon Albert with the 15th overall pick. I have had many discussions with Chiefs fans as to whether or not it was a smart move on Herm and Carl's behalf to expend a first round pick on this player, and sacrificing a 5th to do it.

I recognize that Albert has been credited with being the best guard prospect in years, and that he's amazing in space, most teams believe he'd be a great tackle, and that if he doesn't pan out at tackle he could always become a dominant guard.

So what senseless fool could possible object to Albert with the 15th overall? This one. Explanation comes after the jump.

There are a few theories that I hold dear when it comes to the nature of an NFL offensive line:

1. Left tackle (LT) is the most important position due to the fact that it protects the quarterback's blindside and faces the opposing team's most lethal passrusher, and a grand majority of teams rely on a player who was a very high round draft pick.

2. Right tackle (RT) is also a very important position due to its prominence for runblocking, but it does not require the insane athleticism of the LT, and rarely warrants an extremely high draft pick (like, let's say, the 15th overall).

3. Starting interior lineman can be found throughout the draft, including the late rounds and even UDFA. Only once in a blue moon does one of these interior lineman warrant a first round pick, and even rarer does one warrant the #15 overall and tossing a 5th out the window to make it happen.

So it's likely that, if the Chiefs spend their 15th and throw a 5th rounder in there for good measure on Brandon Albert, they're obviously not looking for an interior lineman -- heck, a good interior lineman can be found with the 5th they sacrified! It's fairly clear as well that Albert was not drafted to be a franchise RT. He was drafted to be converted to one of the toughest positions in the NFL.

Was that a smart move?

The evidence is out. Many people, including the professional pundits, argued that it was a smart move. 99.9999% of Chiefs fans agree. Which gives me the right to ruffle some feathers when I say that I resoundingly disagree, and I believe moving up to obtain him was a mistake.

Of course, we have absolutely zero evidence that Albert will make it as a left tackle in this league, much less a Pro Bowl LT (which you're wanting when you trade up to #15). It was not just one but two picks wasted (we threw a 5th rounder in to get it), for something that's completely theoretical that hasn't proven itself whatsoever on the field, and on a team this thin, that makes me nervous.

When I evaluate draft prospects with my amateur eyes, I go by on-field production more than anything, and Albert could very well be an impressive RT, and could definitely be a great OG. But again, LT faces the most impressive array of defensive talent in the league -- incredibly athletic DEs, fast & elusive DEs, DEs strong as bulls with the intensity to match. And bringing in a completely and utterly raw and unproven OG to play the position for basically the first time in his life spells disaster to me.

He's played LT only twice at the college level. We traded up to get a player whose natural position isn't worth the #15 overall, to play a position he's practically never played before. We've essentially bought ourselves a complete project who can't play LT on day one, and may not play LT for god knows how long, if at all. Much less actually be good at it.

The change from guard to tackle is immense, especially left tackle. This cannot be overstated. Albert is not used to the wider lanes, he's not used to the more creative attacks that LTs are subject to, he's not used to tackle techniques which are different, he's not used to blocking on the edge, he's not used to DEs as opposed to DTs...

Not to mention he's not even used to the difficult transition from the NCAA to the NFL.

If Albert proves me wrong and either starts out there, or even better, impresses me at LT, I will happily eat as much crow as my stomach can tolerate. He's easily the biggest question on an offensive line riddled with questions, and if I can be wrong here, maybe the Chiefs can finally restore this OL to the dominant times of old.

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