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Gosselin Chimes In: Chiefs' Youth Movement "Intriguing"

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I don't know how many of you out there are draftniks, but I highly recommend converting. I can remember becoming engaged in the Draft season as soon as the Jets game concluded in 2007.

There hasn't been a very strong undercurrent of interest in the Draft during the Vermeil years in Kansas City, and for good reason: draft picks were bargaining chips more than they were opportunities to bring in talent.

But of the many things you could charge Herm Edwards with, the one that's certain is that his administration has made the NFL Draft fun again for Kansas City Chiefs fans. Its now rewarding to be familiar with 250+ potential Draftees because you can be assured now that the coaching staff is studying the same people you are. The Draft hasn't been the Chiefs' only source of the youth movement during the Herm Edwards era, but it has been the backbone of it.

Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin, who's the veritable King of the Draftniks, has duly pimped the Chiefs youth movement in today's paper, calling the Chiefs "one of the more intriguing off-season stories in 2008." As a guy who's expertise is on the Draft, it makes sense that he loves what the Chiefs are trying to build:

The Chiefs have been ancient by NFL standards this decade. From 2000 to '06, the average age of the Kansas City roster was 27-plus years. From 2002 to '07, the average age of the starting lineup was 28-plus years.

Dick Vermeil was the head coach of the Chiefs most of the decade. He preferred older players. Veterans don't make the mistakes that beat themselves. As long as the Chiefs were a viable playoff contender, general manager Carl Peterson bought into Vermeil's philosophy.

Now Vermeil is gone, the Chiefs are no longer contenders and Peterson is embracing the philosophy of his next head coach, Herman Edwards: Go young.

Edwards earned his coaching wings as an assistant on Tony Dungy's staff at Tampa Bay. Dungy is the Godfather of the draft 'em/play 'em philosophy. The best way to make a young player better is to put him on the field.

Gosselin continues:

Five players from Edwards' first draft class in 2006 are now starters and a sixth from the Class of 2007 has joined them (WR Dwayne Bowe).

The Chiefs selected two defensive tackles in the first day of the 2007 draft, Turk McBride in the second round and Tank Tyler in the third, and one of them figures to start in 2008. That would give the Chiefs seven draft picks from the Edwards era in the lineup.

The Chiefs injected 12 more young players into the roster in April and three of them are walk-in starters: first-rounders Glenn Dorsey (DT) and Brandon Albert (OT) and second-rounder Brandon Flowers (CB). That would be 10 starters in three drafts since Edwards became coach.

The key draft pick of the Edwards era is quarterback Brodie Croyle, a third-rounder in 2006. He figures to open his first season a starter in 2008. If he proves to be the answer at quarterback, the Chiefs are on their way back to contention, be it 2008 or 2009.

But at least now you can see the plan – and Dungy has proven the plan works.

Now Gosselin is not the be-all, end-all of NFL commentary, but his perspective as a draftnik does shine a really impressive light on how the Chiefs' three Drafts under Herm have panned out.

2006 NFL Draft

DE Tamba Hali (1st), S Bernard Pollard (2nd), QB Brodie Croyle (3rd),
CB Marcus Maxey (5th), OG Tre Stallings (6th), WR Jeff Webb (6th), S Jared Page (7th).

This Draft got the Herm Edwards era off to a very strong start. If you can grab three good starters out of the Draft with maybe a Pro Bowl player thrown in, you've had a good Draft.

The potential kingpin of the 2006 Draft could either be Hali, whose been impressive but slowed with some injuries at DE, or Page, whose led this team in interceptions ever since he's been on the team. Either have the capability to become Pro Bowlers at this juncture.

Pollard has some developing to do, but by my measure he's been fairly strong at starting safety. Webb is on the outside looking in at winning the #2 WR spot, but he's likely got the slot wrapped up. As for Croyle... well, we've discussed him ad nauseum on this site.

Maxey was a Cover 2 corner bust, sadly, but Stallings may be making a comeback. Stallings has been cut by this team, but he's also been brought back in and clamped down on the practice squad. There's been some positive buzz around Stallings, as he's been lining up on the B squad and was even picked to substitute in for Brian Waters a few days ago with the A squad.

4 starters (Hali, Pollard, Croyle, Page)
2 backups (Stallings, Webb)
1 bust (Maxey)

2007 NFL Draft

WR Dwayne Bowe (1st), DT Turk McBride (2nd), DT Tank Tyler (3rd), RB Kolby Smith (5th), K Justin Medlock (5th), OT Herb Taylor (6th), TE Michael Allan (7th).

The 2007 Draft depends a lot on how McBride and Tyler stack up. Both had disappointingly underwhelming rookie seasons, especially McBride who, despite a few moments early on in the season, completely disappeared later on at both DE and DT. Tyler, once thought to be a steal by Chiefs fans, was so invisible in 2007 that he was even deactivated one game. It's too early to write them off, especially Tyler, but most depth chart predictions have Tyler listed as a backup DT and nobody quite agrees where McBride is going to go. But methinks McBride is a bust.

The kingpin of the 2007 Draft is unquestionably Dwayne Bowe, who I predict will likely emerge from the Herm Edwards era as his best pick. Plucked in the bottom of the 1st, Bowe has exuded talent that should have been deserving of a Top 10 pick. All this with little help at QB, other WRs, and the worst offense in the NFL. There's little you can't say about how great a pick he was.

Taylor, Allan, and Smith have all been pleasant surprises on this team. Herb Taylor looked very good subbing in at LT for a couple games his rookie season, and I loved the kid so much I've personally campaigned for him to start. Allan looked like a brilliant selection in the 2007 preseason, making a number of tough catches, but it seems more and more like the Chiefs are edging him out. And Kolby Smith turned in the best rushing performance of 2007, and will be a big part of this offense's revival at backup RB.

The one obvious bust of 2007 is Justin Medlock, currently out of the NFL. We've spoken of him too much on this website and I won't continue the trend here. But I do suspect Turk may be a bust as well.

1-2 starters (Bowe, Tank?)
3-5 backups (Turk?, Tank?, Smith, Taylor, Allan?)
1-3 busts (Turk?, Medlock, Allan?)

2008 NFL Draft

DT Glenn Dorsey (1st), OT Branden Albert (1st), CB Brandon Flowers (2nd), RB Jamaal Charles (3rd), TE Brad Cottam (3rd), S DaJuan Morgan (3rd), WR Will Franklin (4th), CB Brandon Carr (5th), OT Barry Richardson (6th), WR Kevin Robinson (6th), DE Brian Johnston (7th), TE Michael Merritt (7th).

I'm not going to get into this Draft too deeply in this post. Mainly because we have no idea how many of them will pan out. But I will speculate on how many of them may be consistent starters and how many will be backups, and how many will bust. This is nothing but gut speculation:

6 starters (Dorsey, Albert, Flowers, Cottam, Carr, Franklin)
4 backups (Charles, Morgan, Richardson, Johnston)
2 busts (Robinson, Merritt)

This would be the greatest Draft of the Chiefs' history if it panned out this way.

The Spoils (2006-2008 Drafts)

Once again, it's important to remind you readers that this is a lot of speculation on my behalf. Feel free to speculate in your replies:

11 starters (Hali, Pollard, Croyle, Page, Bowe, Dorsey, Albert, Flowers, Cottam, Carr, Franklin)
10 backups (Stallings, Webb, Tank, Smith, Taylor, Charles, Morgan, Richardson, Johnston)
5 busts (Maxey, Turk, Medlock, Robinson, Merritt)

This is how you rebuild. And to quote Gosselin, it's nothing short of "intriguing."