Merlin's Magic: 2011 Initial Draft Needs Edition

Well, here at Merlin’s Magic, the draft is always a topic of conversation. Since we just completed the 2010 draft, some may say it’s time to sit back and focus on the mini-camps and OTA’s leading up to training camp. Well, the Chiefs scouts are already hard at work on the 2011 draft, and so is your somewhat insane Chiefs analyst. For this column, I want to lay out my current thoughts and get reactions and comments from the rest of the draft nuthouse. This is a very preliminary analysis. As players emerge or fail, adjustments will be made. During the regular season, DraftTek does run sims every two weeks. As the Chiefs play, I make adjustments to the needs on a regular basis. Going into the OTA’s, this is what I am thinking. For now, I will use three labels for the needs. Primary needs are needs I am looking to fill in the first three or four rounds of the draft. Secondary needs are needs more likely to be filled in round three or later. The designation ‘not a need’ would be for a need either unfilled, a 6th or 7th round draft choice or UDFA player.

Without further ado, let’s go through the positions:

Quarterback: I see this as a crossroads year for Matt Cassel. He had a solid first year, but not a great one. With the added weapons acquired, I am expecting him to take a step up. If not, quarterback becomes a primary need. As such, I am considering quarterback a secondary need at present. Pioli lovs to use a mid-late round pick on a QB and next year I can see it happening. This is a position I will be keeping a close eye on. We need Matt to be a solid, efficient game manager that can make a play.

Running Backs: With Tomas Jones being an old back, there is a need to groom his replacement. This is another secondary need.

Receivers: It will take this season to sort out what we have a tight end. We have enough bodies there with potential to leave this position off the needs list at present. Wide receiver is another matter. No matter how well Chris Chambers plays this year, there is a big need to find a replacement and that doesn’t even factor in Dwayne Bowe. Like Cassel, I consider this a crossroads year for the Bowe Show. Will he take that step up to be a big time receiver? He has the talent. Right now, I would consider this a primary need.

Offensive Line: I am so pleased with the pick of Jon Asamoah this year. That is the kind of pick we have needed on a yearly basis for the last couple of years. Interior line positions are great to fill in rounds two and three. With Waters and Weigmann on their last legs, there is a need to bring in yet another young lineman. That’s not the mention Lilja’s knee problems. Given all that, another offensive lineman is a primary need. With the flexibility of Albert and Asamoah, we could take a tackle, guard or center. However, center would be my best bet as the need to fill.

Defensive Line: Nose tackle is the biggest need on the team. This is a primary need with an exclamation point. Defensive end should be in good hands.

Linebackers: After the nose tackle position, replacing Corey Mays at ILB was the next biggest unfilled hole. Given that, ILB remains a primary need. However, we may be done there. How many years have we waited for Derrick Johnson to tap his talent fully? Answer: too many years. Given that, I am considering both ILB positions to be primary needs for next year’s draft.

Secondary: Pioli has invested a lot in the secondary. It’s a bit surprising, considering he inherited Flowers, Carr, Pollard and Page. However, Pollard was run out of town and Page’s value with the new regime is cloudy. Safety can be considered a secondary need at this point. This is another position that will bear watching.

Special Teams: With the drafting of McCluster and Arenas, we should be set in the return game. Colquitt and Succop should hold down the punter and kicker slots. No needs here.

To summarize:

Primary needs: OL, WR, ILB (X2), NT

Secondary needs: QB, RB, S

Addicts, that’s five primary needs. That is far too many for a good team to have. This team is still at least one more draft away from being competitive. The schedule is soft this year, don’t let that seduce you. Barring players stepping up and closing holes, we need another draft before we can realistically be a solid playoff team. That’s at a minimum.

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