If this was a normal off season, free agents and undrafted freeagent would have been picked up by their future team by now. However, due to the never-ending dispute between players and owners the lockout remains intact and all unsigned players are stuck on the sideline wondering where their next pay check will come from.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a young team and did a good job of filling their roster needs through the 2011 NFL Draft but there are still a few key position that need to be addressed.
The Chiefs addressed the wide receiver position by drafting Jon Baldwin out of Pitt. The aging offensive line was made younger by drafting several interior linemen. At nose tackle, the Chiefs drafted Jerrell Powe; however the position can still be improved more as it will be hard to rely on a rookie all season.
The Chiefs did not address one of the key positions during the draft, and I am talking about offensive tackle. If the Chiefs plan to solely rely on Barry Richardson at right tackle for the 2011 season that would be a grave mistake.
With free agency undoubtedly cut short for this off-season the odds that General Manager Scott Pioli and the Chiefs will sign any of these players are very slim. However, between the available free agents and the undrafted rookies there is an ambulance of talent available should the Chiefs choose to address positions of need.
Tyson Clabo, Right Tackle
Tyson Clabo is a stud offensive lineman. Clabo has started all 53 of his games for the Atlanta Falcons and is an excellent run blocker and pass protector. Clabo stands at 6’6,” 331 pounds, and would add the size and athleticism that any NFL coach wants protecting his quarterback.
Newly appointed Offensive Coordinator Bill Muir is an offensive line coach and would love to see Clabo protecting Matt Cassel. This is a guy that fits the “Right 53”.
Clabo is currently the most underrated lineman for the Atlanta Falcons. If the Falcons make the mistake of not resigning him, Pioli would be making a bigger mistake by not pursuing Clabo. Clabo could shore up the Chiefs right tackle position for years to come.
Matt Light, Right Tackle
Matt Light had a great season in 2010 playing for the New England Patriots. Light is 32, and the Patriots have a skill for letting go of players just at the right time.
The question with Light is how much does he have left in the tank. Regardless of how full the tank is, the Patriots might think now is the right time to cut ties with the aging lineman.
In his time in Kansas City, Pioli has shown that he is not against bringing in veteran linemen. With Barry Richardson at right tackle it would be smart for the Chiefs to improve this position if given the opportunity.
Light could be a perfect player to bring in on a short term contract. Light would also allow the 24 year old Richardson more time to develop into a true starting caliber right tackle.
Tim Barnes, Center/Guard
Tim Barnes is an undrafted free agent that the Chiefs should look to sign simply for depth and potential purposes. Barnes is listed as 6’4” and 300 pounds and has good quickness and strength and often got to the second level to take on linebackers.
The Chiefs selected center Rodney Hudson in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but that does not completely rule Barnes out.
Hudson and Barnes are both able to play the guard and center positions. Bringing in Barnes would add extra competition for the center spot, bring some more youth to an aging offensive line, and also add depth to the guard position.
The Chiefs run a zone blocking scheme that relies on athletic offensive lineman to quickly get to defenders and create creases for the backs. Barnes fits the mold of the Chiefs blocking scheme perfectly.
Barry Cofield, Nose Tackle
Cofield has been looking for a big payday from the New York Giants for the last few seasons. The four-year veteran just completed the best season of his career, and someone will give him that payday.
The question for the Chiefs becomes if it is too much to pay.
Cofield, stands at 6’4” and 305 pounds and would be an immediate improvement for the Chiefs over current nose tackle Ron Edwards and rookie Jerrell Powe. Cofield started all 16 games for the Giants in 2010 and compiled 54 tackles, four sacks, four pass deflections, and one forced fumble.
The Chiefs did just select Powe in the draft, but relying on him as a rookie would be a mistake. The Chiefs could bring him Cofield to mentor and help develop Powe a little more before he is thrown into the fire. Cofield is worth the money, and the Chiefs definitely have the money to spend.
Ian Williams, Nose Tackle
Ian Williams was a 3 year starter at Notre Dame and for some mysterious reason went undrafted. Williams was able to put up solid numbers playing nose tackle.
Williams’ excellent skills in run defense and his instincts are what stick out most when analyzing his play. Williams is a sure tackler who has a great ability to shed blocks and make tackles on the rusher.
Williams is a little undersized for a 3-4 NT but his strength helps minimize that. Williams could be a nice backup or project player who could contribute on first downs or obvious running situations. Williams would add more youth to an already young and improving defensive line.
Stephen Tulloch, Linebacker
Tulloch was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 draft by the Tennessee Titans. Tulloch had a great season last year and compiled 160 tackles, one interception, and one sack.
Tulloch trailed only New England Patriots’ Jerod Mayo in totals tackles for the 2010 season. Tulloch, who wants a long term deal, does not expect to re-sign, as the Titans have been resistant to a long-term deal and also recently drafted two linebackers.
Tulloch would be an instant upgrade at both the outside linebacker position opposite Tamba Hali or taking over for Jovan Belcher at inside linebacker. Tulloch would be a huge signing to improve an already young and scary defense.
Terrance Toliver, Wide Receiver
While his 2010 college season was a disappointment, Terrance Toliver did have questionable quarterback play that ultimately caused his draft stock to tumble. Toliver is a hard worker and will give his all every play and will never take a play off.
Toliver’s toughness combined with his size makes him an attractive potential undrafted free agent for a Chiefs team looking to add another physical wide receiver. Toliver’s size helps him excel in run blocking, which is a must for the Chiefs.
Toliver is not afraid of contact and will use is frame to fight for extra yardage. Toliver has good acceleration and deceptive straight-line speed. Toliver has a great combination of size, speed, and hustle that cannot be taught.