Well Chiefs fans, it may have taken a little longer then most years due to the NFL lockout, but this Armchair Addict has finally come down with a bad case of Draft Fever. Normally my symptoms show up about 20 minutes after the Super Bowl is over, but this year it has taken a little longer. I think a lot of NFL fans find themselves lacking the usual excitement thanks to the ridiculous CBA situation. However, as the weeks have gone by I’m starting to show the usual signs. If I don’t check out at least a half dozen mock drafts each day I start to twitch a little. I find myself laughing at so called “draft experts” on major national websites when their predicted pick clearly shows they don’t know my team and what they need as well as I do (or like to think I do). I can’t remember my son’s Social Security Number to put on his kindergarten pre-enrollment form, but I can now tell you the names, schools, and height and weight of the top 5 NT prospects in the draft.
Oh yeah, I’ve got the fever.
So here’s my problem, I’m still behind compared to some of our other writers who have been cranking out draft information for a month now. Also, if you haven’t yet ventured over to Fansided’s newest draft website, With The First Pick, you should, it’s excellent and they have information on a ton of the top prospects. So I wanted to try and bring you a new angle to consider. So I decided to look at the statistics from last year and see how they support the players and positions we’ve been discussing leading up to the draft.
My findings after the break…
When looking at the first few rounds of the draft most people who really know the Chiefs or have studied the team have us focusing on four main positions (in no particular order): NT, OL, WR, OLB. You do see some other positions thrown in here and there, but these seem to be the consensus top needs. That’s not to say that we couldn’t use a backup QB, short yardage RB, etc. but when looking at the first 2-3 rounds most experts/mocks have us drafting some combination of those four positions.
So when looking at the numbers from last season, which of those four seems to be the most in need of an upgrade? After looking at the numbers I feel the answer is clearly WR. Now before I back up this claim, let me make myself clear. I am not saying that the Chiefs should use their first pick on a WR. If there isn’t a WR on the board at pick #21 that is worth the pick, they shouldn’t reach. I am just saying that the stats say that the hole we have at the #2 WR spot is bigger then the hole we have at NT, RT, etc.
Here’s the bottom line, Chris Chambers was second among the Chiefs WRs with 22 receptions. That was the fewest by the second leading WR on a team for any team in the NFL last season. LAST. The quarterbackless Carolina Panthers‘ Brandon LaRell had 38. The Oakland Raiders‘ Darius Heyward-Bey had 26. The closest #2 was Tampa Bays’ Arrelious Benn with 25. There is a huge gaping hole at the Chiefs #2 WR spot. The Chiefs passing game overall was rated 30th. They also finished in the lower half of the league in both passes of over 20 and 40 yards. So it appears a WR that would be a deep threat would be the best way to go.
Now let’s see how the Chiefs faired in areas concerning the other positions we’re looking at drafting.
Let’s go next with the position I myself have been calling for, NT. Now a good NT is not really determined by personal stats. So looking at Ron Edwards‘ tackles or sacks doesn’t really tell the story. Ultimately, it comes down to how the team did stopping the run. Could teams pick up first downs on the ground? Did they overpower the D-line at the goal line? Did the NT eat up enough blocks for the ILBs to roam and make tackles? Well the Chiefs finished 14th against the run with 110.2 YPG and 17th with 4.3 YPC. They allowed 88 rushing first downs which was 11th best in the league and 11 rushing TDs which was 12th in the NFL. Finally, Derrick Johnson had enough room to move to the sum of 121 total tackles. Could the Chiefs stand to upgrade the NT position? Yes. Am I a fan of drafting Baylor NT Phil Taylor? Yes. Was the hole at NT as bad as the hole at WR last season? No, it just wasn’t near as bad.
Next, let’s look at the OL. The two popular spots that mock drafts have us upgrading are RT and C. I’m not going to try and address them separately. Let’s just look at the overall o-line play. O-line basically comes down to if a team can run the ball and protect the QB. The Chiefs finished first in the NFL with 2,627 yards rushing. They finished tied for 4th with 4.7 YPC. The Chiefs finished tied for 12th in sacks allowed with 32. Now the Chiefs also finished 29th in pass attempts with 29.7 per game, so it stands to reason that their sack total would be pretty low. I still think it is safe to say that even with room to improve at C and RT, those positions were still better off last year then the #2 WR spot.
Finally, let’s look at the OLB spot. Now before I look at any numbers let’s cut to the bottom of why this position is being talked about as a possibility for the Chiefs first round pick. There are two main reasons why. First, Mike Vrabel is old and was not effective on the field last year. Second, most people feel that the Chiefs need another pass rush threat to go along with Tamba Hali. My counter to those two arguments is Andy Studebaker and Wallace Gilberry. Studebaker has looked much more effective then Vrabel in his limited playing time thus far. To be fair, he hasn’t been a big pass rush threat yet. However, that is where Gilberry steps in. The claim that we don’t have anybody other then Hali to rush the QB just isn’t true. Gilberry’s 7 sacks last season was a higher total then the team sack LEADER of 8 NFL teams. It was also higher then the #2 pass rusher on 12 teams. Three teams also had a #2 pass rusher with 7 sacks. That leaves only 8 teams in the entire NFL who had a second pass rush threat that put up more sacks then Gilberry. Now I understand that Gilberry doesn’t play OLB, but if Studebaker can upgrade the position by playing in place of Vrabel and Gilberry can be our dependable #2 pass rusher on clear passing situations then I think the OLB position is at least “okay”. So once again we are looking at a position that could be upgraded, but wasn’t all that bad last year (at least when Vrabel was off the field).
So there you have it KC fans. The Chiefs have several areas of need after last season, but none appear to be greater then the need for a #2 WR. The real problem is that there is no WR expected to be available at pick 21 that appears to be good value. That means the Chiefs may have to gamble that either a player that is good enough to help out immediately will slip into the second round or that one is available via free agency after the whole CBA nightmare comes to an end. My wager would be that the Chiefs either make some deals to move up or down to where a WR makes more sense or look for a WR to be called when their second round pick comes off the board.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!