Following the 2008 draft, many of the experts were giving Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson top grades. There was a lot of excitement around the new class and the Chiefs rebuilding project was underway.
By the end of the 2008 season, Carl Peterson had resigned and Herm Edwards was on his way out of town. Some of the players from the 08’ class had had decent seasons, including Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Brandon Albert. However, with the old regime on it’s way out, the rookies futures were up in the air.
While many of Herm Edwards’ picks were purged by the new regime, many of the top dogs from the 08’ draft class have survived. Looking over the names, these remaining players have an excellent chance to either lift the team up or cause it to sink, as they enter their 3rd year as pros.
Let’s take a look at who is left and discuss their future roles, after the jump.
Round 1 Pick 5 (5): Glenn Dorsey
Dorsey has not been spectacular thus far but he has faced a lot of adversity. Drafted to be a 4-3 defensive tackle, Dorsey was thrown into the starting lineup from day 1. He dealt with the usual growing pains in his rookie campaign and when the season ended, the jury was still out on the 5th pick in the draft.
In 2009, Dorsey was asked to switch from tackle to end. Initially, it seemed the new regime did not think Dorsey would make it, but he settled in and appears to have secured his place on the defensive line. Still, his 2009 numbers were average at best and he needs to work on rushing the passer.
The 2010 season will be the critical for Dorsey and the team. He will be in his 2nd year in his new position and his 3rd as a pro. It is time for Dorsey to live up to his draft stock. If Dorsey makes the jump this season, then so will the Chiefs defense. Dorsey is critical.
Round 1 Pick 15 (15) (From Lions): Branden Albert
With the exception of Brandon Flowers, Branden Albert probably had the best rookie season of any from the 08’ class. He stood firm at the LT position and most observers agreed that with some seemingly achievable improvement, he could be a Pro Bowler. In his rookie season, Albert only relinquished 4.5 sacks and was flagged for only one penalty.
2009 did not go as well. Albert, adjusting to a new offensive scheme, as well as a new playing weight, turned in a disappointing 9 sacks allowed and was flagged 10 times.
So what happened to Albert? Some say he is having trouble adjusting to his lighter frame. That may be part of it. I, however, think Albert’s decline was due to many factors. For instance, I don’t think Albert had to be as accountable in the 2008 offensive scheme. The “Arrowspread” ran by the mobile and athletic Tyler Thigpen made up for a lot of the offensive lines shortcomings. With a QB almost always taking snaps from the shotgun and with a propensity to take off at the smallest sign of trouble, Albert did not have to hold blocks for very long. In some ways, Albert’s rookie season was a total waste, as he wasn’t forced to block for a true pro style offense with a QB taking snaps from under center.
The other force working against Albert in 09’ was the lack of a running game. Larry Johnson scared no one and teams were not afraid of the play action pass. Teams were placing 8, sometimes 9 men in the box to stop Johnson. This lead to many, many 3rd and long situations. With Matt Cassel holding on to the ball for too long and a poor receiving crew, the offensive line was put in a very tough sot.
Once Jamaal Charles stepped in to the starting role, the entire offensive line played better, including Albert. I’m not saying the line doesn’t need improvement because they do, but they may not have been as terrible as they looked in the first half of the 09’ season. Football is a team sport and it is hard to shine as an offensive lineman when none of the offensive skill players are holding up their end of the bargain.
Albert is super critical to the Chiefs moving forward because if he can prove that he can hold down the LT position, the Chiefs can address other needs on the offensive line and at a much cheaper price. I think the new regime really likes Albert and I think they are going to leave him at LT for at least another season, despite the desire of many fans to move him to Guard. I admit, I would rather have Albert, a 3rd year starter, watching Matt Cassel’s back, than a rookie. I think with Charles in the backfield and with some offensive improvements, Albert will be just fine, if not very good. And the Chiefs need him to be.
Round 2 Pick 4 (35): Brandon Flowers
Many called Brandon Flowers a steal when the Chiefs snagged him in the early part of the 2nd round. He has shown gradual improvement in his first two years and he is primed to make a giant 3rd year leap. If Flowers turns shutdown in his 3rd season, he will greatly help improve the Chiefs defense. The young CB could very well be a 2010 Pro Bowler. His value to the team’s future is immeasurable.
Round 3 Pick 10 (73) (From Broncos through Vikings): Jamaal Charles
It didn’t look good for Charles early on but once given a shot to be the man, he has proven he is the Chiefs best player. The only downside to Charles is his tendency to cough up the football, however, the reward is well worth the risk. Jamaal did a much better job of holding on to the ball during the last quarter of the 09’ season while putting up some spectacular numbers. Charlie Weis has got to be thrilled to be inheriting a player like Charles. The Chiefs are likely to spend weeks drawing up plays for their most dynamic offensive weapon. Charles makes the entire offense better and there may not be a more important player on the roster.
Round 3 Pick 13 (76) (From Lions): Brad Cottam
The new regime never seemed totally impressed with Cottam. He rarely got a chance to play and Scott Pioli was constantly bringing in different tight ends. After languishing behind the likes of Lenard Pope, Sean Ryan and Ryan O’Connel, Cottam finally got a little more playing time near the end of the season. Brad rose to the occasion, having a couple of decent games catching the ball. Unfortunately, Cottam’s surge was cut short by a trip to IR. Through all the strife he encountered early in the season, the Chiefs never cut Cottam. That, combined with his strong showing at the end of 2009, leads me to believe he will be given a closer look this offseason. If the Chiefs can count on Cottam as a big, pass catching option over the middle next season, he will literally be a huge asset to the team. Cottam needs to seize the opportunity because if he can, the Chiefs can focus on other, more desperate offensive needs like.
Round 3 Pick 19 (82) (From Vikings): Dujaun Morgan
Morgan has been a huge disappointment. Other than an interception in a preseason game, I can’t think of much Morgan has done. It isn’t as if he hasn’t had chances. With all the injuries the Chiefs had at Safety this year, Morgan still couldn’t crack the starting lineup. I have all but given up on Morgan, although being a 3rd round pick, that may be a little premature. Morgan needs to step up this offseason and at least show he can be a dependable back up or a solid special teams player or he could find himself out of a job.
Round 4 Pick 6 (105): Will Franklin-Cut
Round 5 Pick 5 (140): Brandon Carr
Carr was the diamond in the rough for the Chiefs 08’ draft. A 5th round pick, Carr began the 08’ season backing up Patrick Surtain. Surtain, however, soon fell prey to the injury bug and Carr was thrust into the starting lineup opposite fellow rookie Brandon Flowers. Carr has exceeded expectations, given his draft stock. His 1st year numbers were solid and his 2nd year numbers were better. Carr has had it rough because the better Brandon Flowers gets, the more Carr will be picked on by opposing QB’s. The man out of Grand Valley State hasn’t backed down. He improved in his 2nd year, actually putting up similar numbers to those turned in by Flowers in his rookie season. Carr still has a little ways to go and 2010 is critical for him, however, it looks as though B2 will be a solid #2 CB for the Chiefs for years to come.
Round 6 Pick 4 (170): Barry Richardson
Richardson may never be a starter for the Chiefs but he has proven to be a fairly solid backup. He was given the chance to snag the starting right tackle spot during the preseason but couldn’t keep hold of the job. Barry was actually cut before the start of the season and signed to the practice squad. Late, he was moved up to the active roster due to the rash of injuries that hit the Chiefs offensive line. He is a very big body and could provide valuable depth for the Chiefs if he can improve. This offseason will be critical for “Big Barry.”
Round 6 Pick 16 (182) (From Vikings): Kevin Robinson-Cut
Round 7 Pick 3 (210): Brian Johnston-Cut
Round 7 Pick 32 (239) (From Giants): Mike Merritt-”All this for a little bit of weed?”
With 7 of the 11 draftees still on the Chiefs roster, the 2008 draft class has a chance to become the solid base on which Scott Pioli’s team is built. The new regime has shown a propensity to undervalue the players they’ve inherited, however, Pioli and Haley need the 08’ Chiefs perhaps more than they might have realized upon their arrival.
It really comes down to these players; Dorsey, Albert, Charles, Cottam, Flowers and Carr. Their 3rd year in the league is critical for the Chiefs. Charles and Flowers look as though they will be fine. Albert, Carr are Dorsey have shown flashes and are very close. Cottam’s late surge has provided hope. He must arrive this offseason. It is now or never for Cottam.
Now is the time for these players to step up and become the leaders this team needs on both sides of the football. If they can do that, along with a few key additions, the Chiefs might turn things around faster than anyone expects.