3rd and Short: Expectations for the Chiefs 2011 Draft Class

The Kansas City Chiefs 2011 NFL Draft was a success as far as filling positions of need on the roster.  The Chiefs addressed their needs at wide receiver, center, and even nose tackle.  However, one of the needs the Chiefs did not fill, and many expected them too was at offensive tackle.

Some people, analysts and fans alike, did not like the direction the Chiefs took in the draft.  One of the concerns is that the Chiefs traded out of the 21st pick when offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi were both available.  The Chiefs eventually took Jonathan Baldwin, who has character concerns of his own, at the 26th pick in the first round.

There could be arguments made all day about whether the Chiefs selected the right players in the 2011 NFL Draft.  The truth of the matter is the draft is over and the players that were selected are the players the Chiefs are stuck with.  Each of these players brings something different and unique to the Chiefs roster, so without further ado lets dive into each draft picks role and expectations entering the 2011 NFL season.

Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

Baldwin and the Chiefs #1 wide receiver Dwayne Bowe have a lot in common.  Both have dealt with character issues, both will start for the Chiefs come opening day, and most importantly, both will be working out with Larry Fitzgerald this summer.

Chiefs’ fans saw the results Bowe had last season after a summer of working out with Larry Fitzgerald.  If Baldwin is able to do half of what Bowe did for the Chiefs last season he will be loved around the Kansas City area.

With Baldwin’s size, standing 6’5” and 230 pounds, and a vertical leap of 42 inches he will be one of the Chiefs main threats in the end zone.  Baldwin has exceptional hands and should help the Chiefs wide receivers eliminate a lot of the dropped passes that occurred in the prior two seasons.  Look for Baldwin to have an exceptional rookie season with the Chiefs.  I predicted Baldwin to have 45-55 catches for 800 yards and 6-8 touchdowns.

Rodney Hudson, C, Florida State

According to rotoworld.com Scott Pioli has confirmed that Hudson is slated to play center in Kansas City. “Not the starting center,” said Pioli, “but he’ll start there with us to begin practice at center.

What that tells me is that Hudson’s playing time in 2011 depends a lot on Casey Wiegmann and his decision to retire or not.  If Wiegmann does call it a career, Hudson’s role on the offensive line could become a crucial role in the success of the Chiefs in 2011.

Although Hudson is going to play center the 6’2”, 290 pounder played both guard and center, which are both positions where the Chiefs are aging and in need of youth.

Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

If Houston plays up to his potential, he could easily end up being the steal of the third round.  Houston was originality slated as a first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  However a reported failed drug test at the NFL Combine caused Houston to fall in the draft.

After moving from defensive line to outside linebacker before his season Houston produced 67 tackles, 10 sacks, and 18.5 tackles for loss.  Houston was also named All-American first-team choice by The NFL Draft Report, the Football Writers Association of America, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation in 2010.

If Houston is able to be disciplined and stay out of trouble he could be the surprise of the Chiefs linebacker core in 2011.  With is size, strength, speed, and athleticism Houston should compete with Andy Studebaker for the starting outside linebacker position opposite of Tamba Hali.

Allen Bailey, DE, Miami-Florida

Bailey was a selection that I, and many analysts, were a little concerned about.  Not saying Bailey isn’t talented, because he has the skills and work ethic to excel.  The problem with Bailey is he only weighs 280 pounds.

At the weight it is hard to determine where exactly Bailey will end up playing.  Bailey is too small to play defensive end, his college position, and there are concerns as to whether he is fast enough to play outside linebacker.  Bailey will be a special team’s player for the Chiefs in 2011.  Bailey may occasionally see playing time at outside linebacker but not enough to produce significant stats.

Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado

With both Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers entering the final year of their contracts, Pioli deemed it necessary to address the cornerback position.  Hopefully both of those player will play great in 2011 and be resigned but if they are not look for Brown to be the potential replacement for one of them.

Brown is a big cornerback standing 6’1” and weighing in at 205 pounds.  Brown is known as a good tackler, having recorded 46 tackles and three interceptions his senior season at Colorado.

In the 2011 NFL season Brown will challenge Javier Arenas for the nickelback position.  If Brown is unable to beat out Arenas he will be a significant contributor on special teams, specifically on punt coverage.

Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa

This is a pick that really excites me.  If you follow my writing you know that I have been clamoring for Pioli to make Stanzi his project quarterback selection.

Stanzi stands at 6’4” and 230 pounds and has ideal size for the position, has above average arm strength, and shows great leadership abilities.  Stanzi was also a three year starter for the Hawkeyes, improving in every season.

Look for Stanzi to compete for and win the backup quarterback position during training camp.  If all goes well Stanzi will not have to see the field in 2011 and can stay on the sidelines learning from Quarterback Coach Jim Zorn and Matt Cassel.

Gabe Miller, OLB, Oregon State

Miller is a pick in this year’s draft that I just do not understand.  Having already taking to OLB early in Houston and Bailey, I do not understand the need for another.  Nothing against Miller, who was known as one of the fastest defensive ends in the Pac-10, but I just do not know where he is going to play.  Apparently neither does Scott Pioli.  At a post draft press conference Pioli had this to say about Miller.

“We see him, based on his size and speed, being a guy who is a developmental outside linebacker for us,” said Pioli. “And will also have the flexibility to…we’re not going to call him a two way star at this point but we, also in his workout worked him out at, on defense and at tight end. So he is a guy who has position flexibility as well. But we’re going to be playing him at OLB and trying to develop him.”

Jerrell Powe, NT, Mississippi

Powe is out of Ole Miss and stands at 6’2” and 335 pounds.  Powe has a huge frame and will be competing with Ron Edwards for the chance to clog up the middle of the Chiefs defensive line.

Powe started 12 games at nose tackle for the Rebels in 2010, recording 27 tackles, 8 1/2 for a loss, and 2 1/2 sacks. Powe was projected to go in the third round of the draft, so the fact that the Chiefs were able to draft him in the sixth is absolutely amazing.

Powe is very similar to Terrance Cody, and can sometimes get lazy toward the fourth quarter and starts playing high.  However if Powe can improve his stamina he will me a force to reckon with in the middle and could be a starter by mid-season.

Shane Bannon, FB, Yale

Bannon was another selection that had me questioning Pioli’s motifs, however the longer I think about the pick the more I like it.  As a seventh round pick Bannon is a fairly risk free pick that can be let go if he does not work out, but based on his college career he will be just fine in Kansas City.

Bannon stats at Yale are nothing to impressive, but he did start at fullback every game his last two season.  That experience leading halfbacks through holes could prove vital in the Chiefs zone blocking scheme.  Bannon also showed that he has reliable hands for a big blocking back.  Standing at 6’3” and 245, Bannon was able to pulling 16 passes for two touchdowns during his collegiate career.

With the departure of Tim Castile at fullback, Bannon will be competing with Mike Cox for the starting fullback position during training camp.  With fullback being a weaker position for the Chiefs I would not be surprised if Bannon proves his worth and gains the starting fullback position by the start of the 2011 season.

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Tags: Allen Bailey Gabe Miller Jalil Brown Jerrel Powe Jonathan Baldwin Justin Houston Ricky Stanzi Rodney Hudson Shane Bannon Todd Haley

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