We all know the Chiefs have holes to fill. We also know it is unlikely that all of those holes will be filled this offseason. Sometimes, however, it only takes a few players to make everyone else better. A nice example of this would be what Jamaal Charles did for the offensive line last season. The lines 2nd half performance was at least twice as good as it’s first half effort. The improved line play coincided with Charles taking over lead back duties from LJ. The threat of Jamaal Charles in the backfield backed defenses off. It made them respect the play action pass. The fact that Charles could burn teams between the tackles as well as off the edge slowed opposing defenses down. Larry Johnson was coming straight at them. They new it. They didn’t need to worry about play action with L.J. in the game.
I am sure the offensive line also improved and grew as the season went on, but have no illusions, Charles, one guy, made them almost twice as good.
Thus, when we look at the Chiefs and their many holes, we have to understand that it is possible to fill some holes by filling others. One more solid pass rusher could improve the secondary play. An intimidating MLB could shut down routes over the middle, increase the pass rush and make QBs to throw at Brandon Flowers and Flowers can make them pay for it.
I decided to take a look at the Chiefs current positions to identify which ones are have their starters, which are holes and which are question marks.
After the jump.
I’ll start with the offense. If I think the Chiefs are in pretty good shape at a position, meaning they have at least 1 solid starter there I put an + there. If I think they must upgrade, in other words, if I think it is a hole, I put an X. If the position is a question mark, meaning the player or players holding it aren’t terrible and could maybe be improved with the benefit of better players around them, I put a ?.
That gives us 4 positions that are locked down. I am not talking about depth here. Depth is a luxury you have when you have starters at all of your positions. I gave the QB position a + because obviously Cassel isn’t going anywhere for a while and Haley said he likes Croyle so they will likely try to keep those two. Cassel is a ? developmentally but he is a + as far as the Chiefs are concerned.
@ RB. Charles is obviously thew starter. With him handling 15-20 carries a game and some improved blocking I think the RB’s the Chiefs have will provide decent depth. This position gets a +.
@ FB. I don’t know about Mike Cox. The Chiefs could probably stand to upgrade as he isn’t great, however, he does have good hands and can catch passes out of the backfield. I put it as a ? because he could be upgraded, but would probably be fine if the Chiefs were better.
@ WR. I don’t consider Bowe a #1 receiver yet. He is a pretty good #2 but he needs to learn to hold don to the ball. Bowe has all the tools to be great but he has to work for it. Otherwise he is simply average. Chambers is good but he is getting old and he is a free agent. There are no promises he will be resigned. Cassel needs fast, young, sure handed receivers. Charlie Weis could help this whole position group but the Chiefs shouldn’t bank just on that. They must upgrade here.
@TE. I just don’t know. Pope proved to be pretty useful and Cottam was starting to show signs of life last season before he landed on his head. Depending on how the Chiefs plan to use the TE this group might be ok. I hesitate to call the position a hole, nor do I think it is a great need. With good receivers, the TE’s we have could be fine. It is a ?.
@ LT and LG. Waters and Albert will probably be fine. I don’t agree that the Chiefs need to draft a LT and move Waters and Albert to C and G but if they do, I think it would work. As it stands now, those two are talented enough to play those positions so they are a +.
@C and RG. These positions must be upgraded. Period. Whether it is by drafting a LT and moving Albert and Waters or just moving Albert or getting some free agents or drafting them. It just needs to be done.
@ RT. I almost put a + here because I really like Ryan O’Callahan. I thought he played pretty well before Charles and even better after. I think the guy is solid for us at RT but I know not everyone is sold on him. The Chiefs could draft a LT and move Albert to RT and move Ryan to G or C for all I know. So I will give him a ? but I think he’ll be OK.
Offense Wrap Up:
If we go by my chart (and I am sure the Chiefs are reading this and will be) then the Chiefs have 3 positional holes on offense.
These holes require a minimum of 3 players to fill them. Maybe 4 if you think the Chiefs need 2 receivers, which I do. However, if they get 1 #1 receiver, with Bowe as a #2 and keep Chambers and Wade, I think the group would be pretty good. I think upgrading at these positions would make the ? positions better. It doesn’t seem unreasonable for the Chiefs to find 3 new offensive starters in the draft, free agency and via trade.
But what about the defense?
L DE +
R DE +
L OLB +
R OLB ?
@ LDE and RDE. Dorsey and Jackson aren’t going anywhere. Please understand this. The Chiefs are not going to trade Dorsey unless they are getting a boat load of stuff for him. They weren’t initially high on him but he did a good job growing into his new position. They like him and unless he shows up fat to camp again, he is staying at DE. I don’t need to explain to you why Jackson isn’t going anywhere. Position gets a +.
@ NT. Ron Edwards is not a Nose Tackle. The Chiefs will replace him this offseason. The 3-4 NT is the most important player on the whole defense. Ron Edwards is a worker but he is not the answer. This is a hole. Position gets an X.
@LOLB. Tamba is the best player on the defense and the Chiefs know it. He stays and should improve the more he settles in at LB.
@ROLB. Vrabel is old. Too old. I think the Chiefs should let him go. He is 34 and is going to end up being dead weight. If they resign him it should be for a year and with the understanding that he is to groom Studi. Thus, I list the position as a ? because I think Pioli will probably try to resign Vrabel and groom Studi. Personally, I want another pass rusher (Peppers) but it stays a ? for now.
@MLB Williams and Mays had a lot of tackles but they are not what the Chiefs need patrolling the middle of their defense. Neither can really cover very well and Mays whiffs on tackles way too much. These guys are way too small to be playing MLB in a 3-4. Especially Williams, who is built for and was brought in to play the 4-3. The Chiefs need bigger, faster linebackers over the middle. Mays would be an OK backup and Williams or DJ could start along with a better partner. It is a definite need. X.
@ CB. I think the Chiefs would be just fine sticking with Flowers and Carr. I think they would both do better with better LB and Safety play. That being said, I have a feeling the Chiefs want to upgrade the position regardless of what I think. Thus I am putting a ?. The position could be better but there are other, more pressing needs.
Like @Safety. Mike Brown is terrible and I have a feeling Pioli might be over Page. I think Page is OK and even McGraw would be fine next to a lights out SS. The Chiefs need at least one as there is a gaping hole at this position. ? for FS. X for SS.
Defense Wrap up:
The Chiefs have 4 positions on D that are pretty much locked down, some question marks at free safety, CB and OLB. None so glaring that then MUST be improved this offseason. That leaves us with 4 Xes.
One of those MLB Xes could go away if DJ comes around or the Chiefs bring in a MLB that is so good that the guy next to him can be average.
In my estimation (obviously) this leaves us with 6 position groups I feel the Chiefs need new starters to fill.
Is it possible to get 6 to 7 new starters in one offseason? I suppose so. If Pioli can pluck 4 starters with his 4 picks in the first 3 rounds then I’d say he could find 2 to 3 more in free agency or via trade.
It isn’t all about aquiring new starters though. For the Chiefs to be successful, the coaches will have to adapt the scheme to the players they have and develop those question mark positions. Depth is also important. There is a lot of work to be done but it is work that can be done.
What do you think, Addicts? Have I narrowed down the positions of need pretty accurately? What order of importance would you place the X positions in? Which are the most glaring and if you had to chose only, say, 3 or 4 of the 6, what would they be.