The K.C. Chiefs 2011 Impact Players


K.C. Chiefs Arrowhead Addict Kansas City Chiefs KC Chiefs

Expect fireworks at Arrowhead this year. No, not Arrowhead Addict, Arrowhead Stadium!

Last year the Chief’s key impact player was oh so obvious and we expect the Mr. Berry Crunch Cereal Killer to taste g r r r r e A T E  again this year! Of course no one predicted Kendrick Lewis would have the impact he did. Same with Shaun “Great Balls of Fire” Smith.

When you think of the impact Eric Berry had, it’s quite different when compared to the impact Kendrick Lewis had. Nevertheless, Lewis achieved more than expected and that is the barometer and definition I’m using for an impact player: someone who achieves above and beyond their pay grade. Here are my rankings for impactability:

0-1 Firework- Sparkles a little- performed just above expectations
1-2 Fireworks- Cause for ooos & aahs- made people stand up & pay attention
2-3 Fireworks- Cheers and applause- made people stand up and yell
4th of July- God bless the USA- rocked the revival tent

For comparative values, last season I gave Matt Cassel 3 Fireworks, Kendrick Lewis 2 Fireworks and Eric Berry was the 4th of July impact player of the year.

In 2011, without a free agency, here’s a list of the players most likely to have an impact this season. These are also the players I’ll be rating for impactability.

Draft Class

Current Roster

Jon Baldwin, WR Andy Studebaker, OLB
Rodney Hudson, C/G Dexter McCluster, RB/WR
Justin Houston, OLB Jon Asamoah, G
Allen Bailey, DL Tony Moeaki, TE
Jalil Brown, CB/ST Tyson Jackson, LDE
Ricky Stanzi, QB Brad Cottam, TE
Gabe Miller, OLB/TE Javier Arenas
Jerrell Powe, NT Cameron Sheffield, LB
Shane Bannon, FB Brandon Flowers, CB

 

 

Jonathan Baldwin
Some are expecting Jon Baldwin to be the impact player of the division (iPOD). Jon could actually do so well this year that he out gains Dwayne Bowe. Oh yea, I said it. A bold prediction for a rookie but, if you haven’t been following the tweet threads, he’s been hanging with, and working, with Mr. Cassel and has plans to do yoga with Larry Fitzgerald this summer. Actually, we can expect Jon Baldwin to be very productive in his rookie campaign and although he may not out gain Matt Cassel’s BoweToy, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he turns the WR situation in K.C. into… Thing One and Thing Two. And that’s a good thing.

Jon Baldwin gets 3 Fireworks.

 

Rodney Hudson
Casey Wiegmann has said it’s a 50% chance he’ll return this season. I’m guessing he will. Even if he doesn’t come back I don’t expect Rodney Hudson to be the starter on day one. That’s a lot to expect from a rookie. Hudson has great feet, yes “great” feet but, the center position is perhaps the second hardest position on the field and it’s rare that someone comes in and does what Pouncey did in Pittsburgh last season. Rodney Hudson gets No Fireworks this season but, next year he should have a greater opportunity to make an impact.

Justin Houston
Justin Houston has all the tools to make an immediate impact for the Chiefs in 2011. The question is which Justin Houston will be showing up in September? The third round selection or th e 1st round talent? Mike Vrabel has just indicated he will return which will help Houston in the long run. Vrabel’s guidance will keep Houston focused but, Houston’s raw natural ab ility will be too much for Haley to keep him off the field. Houston was one of the best defenders in the SEC but, his team, Georgia, finished with the 8th best overall record at 6-7. Houston will now be playing with players whose skill and attitude is something he’s never experienced and he will feed off of, and into, the Chiefs’ energy and talent level.

Justin Houston gets 2 Fireworks.

Allen Bailey
Allen Bailey was not only one of the strongest players in this draft but, one of the best players on tape from the standpoint of winning every down against whoever he lined up against. Following day two of the draft, Scott Pioli said, “we… think that he could have a chance to be a master at one thing, which is, rushing the passer from the inside position, being a good sub-inside rusher.” I agree. You can see that he already has an NFL body. Bailey will need to work on the use of his hands but, I can see someone who will penetrate in the middle of the line with success this season. He was a top player on a storied team: the Miami Hurricanes and moved both inside and outside with ease. Defensive linemen aren’t supposed to be as effective as he will be this early in their careers.

Allen Bailey gets 3 Fireworks… possibly for reasons not yet stated.

Jalil Brown
Jalil Brown will excel on special teams. Scott Pioli said following the draft that Jalil graded out as one of the best players in this draft on special teams. That’s where Brown will make his impact.

Jalil Brown gets 2 Fireworks.

 

Ricky Stanzi
Ricky Stanzi will most likely be the third string QB and hopefully hold a clipboard for three years. I expect the Chiefs to sign a veteran back-up QB and if Cassel gets hurt that QB will have a much better showing than Brody Croyle did last season… or any other season. Ricky Stanzi gets No Fireworks and we should all hope it remains this way. I like Ricky Stanzi a lot and even predicted the Chiefs would draft him but, the opportunities won’t be there this season for him to shine.

Gabe Miller
Gabe Miller will surprise a lot of people. At first I thought he was here to basically give Justin Houston, a fellow rookie playing the same position, some friendly competition and company along the NFL road of life. Scott Pioli says Miller can be a two way guy playing both OLB and TE but, they’ll start him out at OLB. Miller has speed and skills but, he won’t be jumping ahead of someone like Cameron Sheffield or Andy Studebaker on the depth chart. Not right away. Miller is a Pioli kind of guy with high intelligence, a good work ethic and a great motor.

However, Gabe Miller gets No Fireworks… this year.

Jerrell Powe
Jerrell Powe is a load. 6-2, 335. He’s been asked to get his weight down and even if he does the best we can hope for with Powe is a solid rotational contributor. Two or three years from now Powe may be great but, this season is probably not going to be his time to flash.

Jerrell Powe gets 1 Firework.

Shane Bannon
Shane Bannon was a nifty pick. Not a throw away pick. Many people expect Bannon to compete for the starting FB position. Bannon is big at 6-2, 266 and likes to hit people. He’s a smart savvy guy but, I’m not sure he can make the immediate jump from Ivy League ball to starting in the NFL. He’ll make the roster but, it’ll take a while for him to grow into his big boy shoes.

Shane Bannon gets 1 Firework for a great hit he lays on an unexpectant Raider.

Andy Studebaker
Andy Studebaker had a great pre-season last summer. I fully expected him to get more field time and be one of those Fireworks we relish. Didn’t happen. This year, even with Vrabel coming back, I don’t expect Studebaker to get much more time than he did last season. The reason for that is the youth movement that Todd Haley loves to love. I suspect Haley had much to do with Justin Houston being drafted and was far less squeamish about bringing him in than Pioli was. Whether he was drafted in the third round or not, Houston is a first round talent and Haley will find ways  to get him on the field, which means Studebaker and Vrabel are not.  I expect him to play well. I just don’t think he’ll surpass anything he’s done to date.

Andy Studebaker gets No Fireworks this year.

Dexter McCluster
Dexter McCluster will find his way to the field… hopefully not on his back. At 5-8 and 170 pounds Dexter is quick and talented. If he steps into the starting line-up early and gets hurt again I expect the remainder of his career with the Chiefs to be strictly as a kick returner. Dex has the kind of quickness most players dream about. If he can stay healthy he can explode. As long as he lasts…

Dexter McCluster gets 3 Fireworks.

Jon Asamoah
Jon Asamoah is ready to go. He’s big, talented, sharp and now he just needs a place to play. If all the Chiefs starters return Jon will be the first replacement at Center or Guard. The future of the Chiefs line is bright with Albert, Asamoah, Hudson and Lilja manning the core. This may or may not be  Asamoah’s year to start. Even if he does I don’t project him for stardom immediately.

Jon Asamoah gets No Fireworks this year.

Tony Moeaki
Tony Moeaki is in the right place at the right time and that time is now and that place is as the Chiefs starting TE. Tony had an outstanding rookie season. The addition of Jon Baldwin to the WR corps will open up passing lanes even more for Tony and Tony will return the favor. Increased success in the passing game will bring an even better running game and Tony will be a benefactor.

Tony Moeaki gets 3 Fireworks… with more to come.

 

Tyson Jackson
Many will be surprised to find Tyson Jackson on my list. This is a do or die year for Tyson. Up until now we haven’t seen much from the 6-4, 296, 2009, third pick in the draft, LDE from LSU. To this point Scott Pioli has taken his stand that Jackson was still the right pick. Then again, he has to do that. Now, it’s up to Tyson to put up or get out. I’m expecting more from Jackson this season because he knows his chance to be the man may be coming to a close and because he will be getting some competition. I think the Chiefs will sign a FA to help back up Jackson or even possibly displace him. With our recent draft, we may even have that player on our roster.

Tyson Jackson gets 2 Fireworks. Anything less… well… either way, he’s playing with fire.

Brad Cottam
Brad Cottam is in the house. Who woulda thunk it? After he broke his neck at the end of 2008 Brad has done his best to put himself in position vie for a roster spot when the odds have clearly been against him. If you read Patrick Allen’s recent article called “Brad Cottam’s Last Stand” then you have a good idea about exactly what Brad Cottam has been through to get to this point. As Patrick points out the starting job belongs to Tony Moeaki and will continue to do so for the long term. However, what Brad has to do is beat out Leonard Pope. That’s the same “Pope” who saves people. No, not the one in Rome but, it might as well be since Leonard’s recent act makes him a popular favorite and Todd Haley already had a man-crush on him. A big one. What this means for Cottam is that the odds are not in his favor.

Brad Cottam gets No Fireworks this year but, I’m pulling for him.

Javier Arenas
Javier Arenas was one of the best kick return men in the history of college football. After a year in the league Javier now knows what to expect from the opposition and that knowledge could help him mightily in 2011. His work as a slot CB was not the best so I’m not anticipating him making a great impact there. Improved play will help but, he won’t be blowing anyone away at that position. Not if he has to cover the likes of Antonio Gates for two games this year. That may be why we drafted Jalil Brown. No, Arenas’ impact will come in the return game.

Javier Arenas gets 2 Fireworks.

Cameron Sheffield
Cameron Sheffield, the mystery man. Cameron has a wonderfully athletic NFL body. After missing the season because of a neck injury sustained in a preseason game with the Eagles the questions about Sheffield are endless. Now, with a logjam at the OLB spot Sheffield appears to be the odd man out. Neck injuries for a player whose position requires him to hit people is not a positive sign. Sheffield may be a stud. We just haven’t seen it yet.

Cameron Sheffield gets No Fireworks this year.

Brandon Flowers
Brandon Flowers is one of the best corners in the league. Period. A recent poll of “respected” veterans asked about who the top CBs in the league are said this about Brandon: The Chiefs were first in passes defended last season with 98. Flowers allowed one touchdown pass in more than 100 targets and was fourth in the NFL in yards after catch allowed at just 2.0 yards per reception. The big problem I have with the list is that it places him at number 12. Eleven other CBs are better than BF? Not a chance. This season people across the nation will find out that Brandon should be at the top of the board. Take a peak at what Pro Footbal Focus has to say about our man Flowers: “Brandon Flowers from the Chiefs amassed 65 attempts, and missed just one tackle. NFL Draft guru Mike Mayock raved about Flowers’ physicality and tackling ability when he was drafted, and he is being proved right the longer Flowers plays. The Chiefs have put together an extremely talented young secondary, and Flowers’ career path has been steadily on the rise since he was drafted. Kansas City has themselves a corner with the potential to emerge as one of the league’s true elites….” Flowers is already good but, this season he gets the accolades he deserves.

Brandon Flowers is this season’s 4th of July impact player of the year. Bank it.