"It's time to get back to that style of play. Jason Smith should be the favorite and he can be a dominant left tackle," former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden told me in a conference call with the NFL Network today.
I've been advocating drafting left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs for a little while now. Moving Brandon Albert to right tackle, selecting Smith with the third overall pick and establishing book end tackles will go a long way to improving the Chiefs' longevity on offense.
Gruden cited the Chiefs' new offensive line coach, Bill Muir, as a reason why Smith would be a good choice.
Gruden and Muir worked together for the head coach's entire tenure in Tampa Bay. Muir is the longest tenured offensive line coach in football and Gruden's familiarity and endorsement of him helps state his case for Smith.
Similarly, Steve Mariucci talked tackle and calls Eugene Monroe the best pass protecting tackle on the board.
Gruden noted Smith's athleticism as a reason why you hear him "thumping people even though there's no sound coming."
Mariucci compared the run on tackles he expects to see in the 2009 draft similar to last year (there were eight taken in the first round in 2008). The debate over the top tackles worthy of the Chiefs third overall pick has been around Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith, but Mariucci said "if it weren't for the whole Combine thing, you would be putting Andre Smith up there, too."
The Alabama tackle of course disappeared from the NFL Combine early which caused a lot of negative reports to come out questioning his character.
As far as moving players on the offensive line, namely Albert to right tackle, Mariucci says the Chiefs should do whatever it takes to get the offensive line back intact. He doesn't see the Chiefs worrying about whose playing what position and where they were drafted on the offensive line.
There you have it - two more former NFL coaches weighing in on the Chiefs and the third overall pick. Click over to see a few notes from the call.
*Gruden said he worked out JaMarcus Russell and while he has the ability, the Raiders have to get him a weapon like Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin. Last year, the Raiders leading receiver had 22 catches (compared to the Dolphins' three players over 50 catches). He also says the Raiders need to look at offensive tackle.
*Mariucci said there will be plenty of pressure on Russell this season, especially since head coach Tom Cable will run the west coast offense, which vereran backup Jeff Garcia is very familiar with.
*Gruden said he was "disgusted" with the allegations against B.J. Raji and it's "disappointing" that they came out. He hopes they're not true but still expects Raji to be a top ten pick, unlikely to get past Green Bay at #9.
*Gruden also talked about teams copying the Steelers blueprint with the 3-4 defense this upcoming season.
*Mariucci called B.J. Raji the best defensive tackle in the draft.
*Kinda funny - regarding a question on what the Bucs should do in the draft, Gruden said, "I'm gonna let Steve handle that question because they offered him the job before me." Nice one, coach.
*Gruden said the Bucs should address the defensive line. He says maybe they should take a close look at Georgia Tech's defensive end Michael Johnson, or even one of the defensive tackles if they call.
*Gruden said the Bucs are one of seven teams with back to back winning seasons but they struggled at the end of the stretch last year. Ultimately, he placed the blame on the head coach (himself).
*Regarding college defensive ends making the switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4, Gruden said it takes a year or two for those going from playing with their hand on the ground to playing standing up. When talking about Aaron Maybin, he cites Vernon Gholston last year as a Big Ten player who will take some time to make the transition.