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Chiefs 2010 Draft Surprise #3: Special Focus

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Javier Arenas
Javier Arenas

Yesterday, we began a series that will take a look at the various surprises from the last exhilarating weekend known as the 2010 NFL draft. First up, we examined the idea that new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis wasn't nearly as involved in the draft selection process as what some originally believed would be the case. Today, we take a closer look not at the positions that we were addressed, but what specifically wasn't addressed.

Surprise No. 3 - Special Teams Was The Unit Most in Need.
There was much talk last year about the strength of the Chiefs special teams unit. And rightfully so, given the strong rookie season of Mr. Irrelevant, kicker Ryan Succop and the continued dominance of punter Dustin Colquitt. The Chiefs kicking game is arguably the envy of most teams with such a young steady duo to depend upon.

Yet special teams is more than just the kicking game. It's about coverage units, the return game, the ability to break the game open on one end and create turnovers on the other. Field position, perhaps more than any other, is the most unheralded aspect of an NFL contest. So with that said, it's apparent the Chiefs didn't like the 2009 version of their special teams unit and sought to add a lot more talent to an area often overlooked.

How many people thought Javier Arenas was among the 50 best players available in the NFL Draft. And for a team that arguably has needs at so many positions, the pick was surprising to say the least (and frustrating for many others). Sure he's capable of playing a nickel corner spot. And apparently he has the ability to blitz the quarterback when called upon. But when choosing in the top 50, you're hoping for a player who's capable of making an impact at a position of need on all three downs.

But field position is that important, and Arenas now-famous ability in the return game became too much to pass on with the No. 50 pick in the draft. Arenas might have been there in Round Three, but there's no way of knowing in the poker game known as draft weekend and this means that addressing the special teams unit was such a priority that Pioli had to hand in Arenas' name on a card above bigger perceived needs like wide receiver (Golden Tate), offensive line (Vladimir Ducasse, Charles Brown), defensive interior (Terrence Cody) or pass rusher (Jason Worilds).

Not only Arenas, but other late grabs will find themselves on the field alongside the kickers. Kendrick Lewis, the second safety picked among the first six Chiefs draft picks, is known as a ball hawk and should excel as a special teams tackler. And that doesn't account for possible undrafted free agents set to make their mark in rookie camps coming up soon.

Only time can tell whether that move was brilliant or stupid. Most likely it will reside in some in-between stage. But if the Chiefs find themselves on the receiving end of favorable field position time and again, giving a newly loaded running offense a shorter field to work with, Pioli will likely look back and smile at his focus on the special teams unit.