(This article was submitted by the Old Chief, Dr. John Best.)
Over the last few weeks I have noticed a variety of opinions on the state of the Chiefs, specifically their weaknesses and strengths. While everyone will admit to the porous offensive line, few would want to attach particular attention to this area in the upcoming draft. WRONG. Let us examine several of the teams in the conference finals as examples of a different philosophy.
The Jets by and large have the highest regarded o-line in the NFL. How did this come about?
In 2006 they spent two number ones on LT D. Ferguson (4th pick in the draft) and on C Nick Mangold (29th pick of the first round). LG A. Faneca was a free agent signing, but had previously been a first-round pick in 1998. Likewise, their RT Damien Woody was a free agent signing after being a first-round pick of the Patriots in 1999. Their only undrafted starter is their left guard, an undrafted free agent out of Illinois who developed in the Europe.
The Saints have also built their O-line via the draft:
- LT Jermon Bushrod – 4th round (2007)
- LG Carl Nicks – 5th round (2008)
- C Jonathan Goodwin – 5th rounder from New York Jets (FA)
- RG Jahri Evans – 4th round (2003)
- RT Jon Stinchcomb – 2nd round (2003)
The other two remaining teams also have good lines including players like Bryant McKinnie, Jeff Saturday, Steve Hutchinson and Tony Ugoh. Sure, Saturday is undrafted, but most of these players were drafted. Good offensive lineman that can help a long-term unit gel typically don’t fall in your lap.
In pro football, if you can’t protect the QB or run the football you are doomed in the playoffs (see Dallas Cowboys vs.
Minnesota Vikings last week).The Saints, Vikings and Colts are, I believe, statistically the best passing teams in the NFL. The Jets have been running over people throughout the AFC playoffs. Hell, Thomas “Old Bones” Jones was one of the top 10 running backs in the league behind the Jets’ dominating unit. Regardless of whether you air it out or pound the rock, you have to have great protection to win in today’s game.
It is imperative that the Chiefs shore up their O-line via the draft and free agents acquisitions. After watching a converted guard struggle at left tackle this year (Branden Albert), and watching the dominating and devasting effects of Joe Thomas on our defense (Cleveland), I feel it is imperative to upgrade this position.