A full introduction will come later.
Suffice to say that I am the new guy, and I have been brought onto the team just in time to toss out some pre-draft opinions for all of you to laud, decry, praise or generally throw poo at.
First of all, I think there has been some great draft discussion going on here, particularly surrounding the irate Green Giant, Phil Taylor. But to follow my fellow columnists‘formula, this is how I see it in a nutshell:
The Chiefs …
Will Pick: NT Phil Taylor
Should Pick: Gabe Carimi
Por que? Para que I have a strong suspicion that all of the best pass rushers and O-linemen are going to go FAST. Even if guys like Robert Quinn and Aldon Smith make it out of the top 10, the league’s two worst defenses (Washington and Houston) pick at 10 and 11. Then you have the Jags, Chargers and Bucs — all of which need DE’s — so there goes Kerrigan, J.J. Watt, and Cameron Jordan (who likely wouldn’t make it past New England at 17 anyway). Bowers doesn’t fit KC and has a broken knee. The Cowboys, Lions, Rams, Dolphins and Giants all want O-linemen, and Gabe Carimi is ranked as perhaps the most NFL-ready trench guy in the draft. I love him, but a pure right tackle isn’t worth trading up for, and Mike Pouncey is also likely to be gone. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but it’s not looking too good. In fact, that’s exactly how things went down in the ESPN Football Today Superfan Super Mock Draft, in which I represent the Chiefs as the KC Superfan/Mock GM.
My personal dream scenario/conundrum would be having both Pouncey and Carimi available at 21. Carimi fills a more immediate need at RT, whereas Pouncey could step in and start/provide depth for any of the three interior positions that are currently occupied by veterans over the age of 30. Although both Casey Wiegmann and Brian Waters are warriors, I see this as their last year. Jon Asamoah might be able to take over for Waters, but there’s no certainty there, and going into 2012 with two new guys in the interior having at least one year in the league would make me feel a lot better. Still, I think with the tough 2011 schedule that the Chiefs are facing down, I say you plug that hole at RT and try to get this young team accustomed to regular playoff berths.
But back to reality. If things shake out how I fear, and both Pouncey and Carimi are off the board at 21, I think you have to go NT. For both strategic and emotional reasons, the Chiefs cannot afford to be gashed by the inside run game and allow Oakland to control the clock on the way to double wins against them again this year. Furthermore, Matt Cassel, despite a ridiculously productive 2010 season has proven that he is not great and getting the team back from behind. In the playoffs, you’re going to find yourself behind and you have to be able to get your offense back on the field with time to maneuver. That failure was half of the problem in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to Baltimore — the other half was O-line ineptitude, which ideally would be addressed with the first pick.
If you can’t get either of the two better-suited O-linemen (Solder and Castonzo just don’t seem to fit the Chiefs’ identity well), Phil Taylor is the guy who can make this team better, faster. Pass rusher Akeem Ayers is still likely to be on the board, but he’s inconsistent and undersized. Plus, lack of pass rush was not what hurt this team in losses. Although Tamba Hali clearly needs a credible compliment, he still got two sacks against B-more in the playoffs despite their ability to shift coverages to his side. The big problem with the Chiefs is with their run defense. Taylor may never be a Vince Wilfork or Kris Jenkins-style pocket crusher, but he’s shown great ability to get off blocks and even the speed to catch up with runners who bounce to the outside. The biggest knock against him is that he may be only a two-down player, but KC has enough bodies at NT to have a reasonable enough rotation to keep him fresh. If he can stuff the run on downs one and two and we can force opposing defenses into consistent 3rd & 6 scenarios, I’m happy with inviting the other team to throw third down passes into the AFC West’s best secondary with Hali coming off the edge.
As such, with the first round pick, the Chiefs are going to be ideally beefing up the smashers to plow lanes for Charles and keep Cassel on his feet. But if they can’t, Oakland, get ready for the Green Giant.