I've already stated my case for the position I believe the Chiefs should draft. You can read the full analysis here, but simply put, I contend that for any team dedicated to running a 3-4 defense, the Nose Tackle position is the second most important position on that football team -- besides the quarterback. Since the Chiefs have committed themselves to Matt Cassel for this next season and possibly beyond, the priority them jumps down to the second most important position.
I can hear your arguments starting already, so just hear me out. I realize that when you only win 25% of your games, you should just pick the best player available. And generally speaking, that's also a rule that works no matter how successful your franchise is. But there has to be a balance -- both between the best player available and what is best suited to your team. So even though it seems I might be reaching for a defensive tackle, I actually believe it will hold up come draft day. Allow me to convince you.
In his Combine press conference, Todd Haley seemed quite committed to Branden Albert on the left side of the line. It takes some reading in between the lines, but the second half success of the running game certainly helps. And it makes the most sense to give Albert a chance to stay focused and in shape in an entire off-season before you boot your experienced promising high draft pick to the right side. Right?
If that's the case, then the Chiefs need for offensive line help needs to come in the interior, not at the tackle spot. Or at the very least, you draft a right tackle. And that, my friends, is not something you take in the Top 5 in a draft of any year.
Read the rest after the jump:Some people call for a wide receiver since Dez Bryant seems to be this year's diva du jour. But he wilts in front of an NCAA investigation enough to lie under pressure (leading to his famous season-long suspension). He also wilts in front of a throng of reporters (having witnessed the timid, awkward, uncomfortable response myself first-hand at the Combine). If this is the case, imagine how he handles Todd Haley's pressured coaching and practice methods. I'm sure he'll be a great receiver, but I can't imagine the Chiefs investing.
On another note, Haley spoke confidently of Bowe's ability to return well and the Chiefs should end up resigning Chris Chambers. A full season with Chambers, perhaps another free agent addition or lower round draft choice, and the Chiefs are much better off than they were a year ago. At the very least, I don't believe it to be the most glaring need on the team.
The same thing goes for a linebacker like Rolando McClain. The middle linebacker spot is to the defense what the running back is to an offense. A great player certainly can take you some amazing places, but they're also the most replaceable spot on the field. Rookies can succeed in both spots and smart, savvy veterans can also handle the role. There's a reason why you don't draft either position very high.
So while you could make a case for Joe Haden, or a pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul, I think it comes down to Defensive Tackle. And this, in turn, brings me to Brian Price, DT, UCLA.
Yes, I realize I'm probably the only guy putting Price in the Top 5 players in the draft. I'm the only guy linking him to the Chiefs. And so I realize that either makes me genius or stupid (read: most likely "stupid). But know, first off, that if somehow Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy are available at No. 5 OR if the Chiefs can trade up (gasp!) to get one of these guys, I absolutely believe that is the best move they could possibly make in this draft.
But the simple truth is that they won't be available. Or at least they shouldn't be. That's because if you can get a franchise tackle in today's NFL, you pay, you fight, you scramble, you search, you claw your way to get that guy and keep him. The Titans paid dearly after losing Albert Haynesworth, and the Redskins paid dearly to acquire him. (Of course, the results of the 'Skins season undermines my argument, but go with me here since I think Washington is just a screwed up franchise). Aubrayo Franklin? The Niners aren't stupid enough to let him go. Casey Hampton? Pittsburgh knows what they're doing, too.
Perhaps Scott Pioli can convince his old pal Billy Boy to trade the beloved Vince Wilfork. But here's betting that doesn't happen, no matter what prospects they grabbed in last year's draft (read: Ron Brace). And that leaves the Chiefs with the same old Ron Edwards manning the middle. I actually like Edwards a bit and he's definitely someone to keep around. But he's not the force that KC needs to really bring the defensive line, and thus the entire defense, together.
If UCLA's Brian Price played in the SEC, you'd all be cheering me by now. Actually, you'd just nod your head and say, "What's new?" But instead, the reigning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year is practically unknown outside of his own time zone. Sure, some are slating him as a late first round draft choice, but the guy's an absolute disruptive force on the level of Gerald McCoy in my opinion. l
Need some stats to appreciate? From an interior line position, the 6'2" beast accumulated 22.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, including 7 quarterback sacks. In his three year career (the 21-year-old came out as a junior), he totaled 43.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Some great analysis on his ability at the POA (Point of Attack) can be found here by ESPN's K.C. Joyner as well. His burst is incredible. His instincts are NFL-ready. Needless to say, Price is good. Really good.
"But we need more than really good for a Top 5 pick." Agreed. And there are questions. Is he a three down DT? How will be play in the 3-4? Is he stout enough to hold down the middle? I'm willing to go down with the ship on this one, and most likely I will. Who really believes this will happen? I certainly don't. My prediction is that Rolando McClain or Dez Bryant is the man.