Plucking grass out of his facemask for the nth time, the Chiefs’ franchise quarterback Matt Cassel seemed downright pissed off at Brandon Albert, or Rudy Niswanger, or Mike Goff, or any of the countless lineman that let him down as the season progressed. Being driven into the turf is a way of life in the NFL, but there was no earthly reason that defensive lineman should have been able to freely beat Cassel as if candy was about to fall out.
For the first eight weeks of the season the poor guy probably woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, sceaming “NDUKWE!!,” which is hard enough to say, let alone sleep-shout.
As we rebuild this team, perhaps no task is more important than making sure that Cassel is protected better in the upcoming season than he was over the course of a brutal 2009 campaign. I understand that, hell I think virtually every Chiefs fan agrees with that fact.
But please, Scott. Please, please, please, please please please, PLEASE, PLEASE, please don’t even think about drafting an offensive tackle fifth overall.
Don’t entertain the idea. Don’t even allow the idea to exist. Question the very existence of all reality should that idea be presented to you. If Jesus Christ Himself walks through your office door, and says My lamb, Bruce Campbell doth haveth great lateral agility, just (very politely) tell Him to divine Himself a new draft board. He has more important things to do anyway. As we speak Al Davis is holding a demonic trident and begging to be smited.
The bottom line is that the Chiefs absolutely cannot afford for you to draft an offensive lineman with your first overall pick.
There is perhaps no more important offseason for the Chiefs rebuilding effort than this offseason, because it is so rife with problems. The lack of an agreement between the players and the league likely means that almost all meaningful free agents will be held onto by their current teams. The few players that do make it to the market will have the entire league competing for them. This means that these players will likely be vastly overpaid in accordance to their ability — which is fine if a team is one or two pieces away from a championship run. But if a team is in the budding stage of rebuilding, as we are, every dollar we overpay today is a dollar we can’t pay when we’re looking for the final pieces in a couple years. The less we participate in this offseason’s free agency pool, the better.
Which makes the Draft all important for this team in 2010. And makes the #5 overall pick for the Chiefs unquestionably the most important aquisition to improve the team this year.
Which is why it has to be a skill position player. This team lacks in a lot of areas, one of the largest of those areas being Cassel’s protection, but you cannot rob a legitimate opportunity to pick up an elite playmaker for the second year in a row. You have no better shot at an elite playmaker than in the Top 10 in the Draft, everywhere else you draft is a much more radical gamble. You can still select an offensive lineman later on in the draft and not gamble nearly as much — they are not impact players, and this is a pretty good year for offensive line depth (it usually always is).
I take Cassel’s protection the most seriously, which is why I believe picking up offensive skill position players would help even more than juicing up the offensive line. We had a pretty decent offensive line in the last quarter of the ’09 campaign, and it wasn’t because the players magically got better, it was because acquiring more skill on your offense has a direct impact on your OL’s quality. Jamaal Charles and Chris Chambers did far more in keeping Cassel upright than O’Callaghan or Wade Smith.
Besides, Brandon Albert needs more time to grow. He was a first round pick, and improved as the year progressed under a new offensive system. Allow him one more year to prove himself. You can get a great LT basically any year if you scout hard enough. All you’re doing in drafting an LT this year is assuring that Albert will move over to RT or guard and improve that position. So we’re essentially spending the #5 overall to upgrade a non-LT position on the offensive line. That is criminal, Scott. Even moreso than using the #3 overall on a three-tech.
We need speed. We need playmakers. We need S Eric Berry, or S Taylor Mays, or RB CJ Spiller, or CB Joe Haden. I’d even reach for WR Dez Bryant or ILB Rolando McClain. I’d rather take a chance grooming QB Jimmy Clausen. Anything to get as much elite talent on the field as possible. That helps this team in the long run. The Browns have the best young left tackle in the NFL and they still had the worst offense in the league in 2009 and Brady Quinn still got the tar kicked out of him.
Offensive lines matter, but the game is built on playmakers.
And #5 overall is where you take them.