The Evolution Of The NFL

Traditionally, NFL teams have had strong and weak sides. Offensively, it started with the positioning of the tight end. The side the tight end was on was strong and the other side was weak. As passing became a more and more of important part of the offense, things changed. Since most quarterbacks were right handed, defenses positioned their better pass rushers to rush the left side, or the blind side, of the quarterback. Football is an ever evolving game, so of course offenses adjusted. They put their more agile, generally smaller tackles on the left side, while the right side was the domain of the less mobile, stronger tackles. The same trend exists on a smaller level at the guard position as well. The run game also benefited from this. Most backs are right-handed and prefer to run right rather than left. Since the left side of the line was more mobile, they were more effective at pulling and leading right. Defenses also followed suit. It’s why Tyson Jackson and Jovan Belcher are on the left side of the defense, while Glenn Dorsey and Derrick Johnson are on the right side. So, what is next and how does it affect the Chiefs and their draft needs?

Notice that I left Tamba Hali off the list? While he often lines up on the right side, he does move around a decent amount. This is smart and many teams do it. Basic strategy is based on creating mismatches in your favor. Who would you rather send your best pass rusher against: Branden Albert or Barry Richardson? To the hardcore Chiefs fan, this isn’t much of a question. The Chiefs will move Hali around to create a mismatch. Other teams are smart and do the same thing. How does this affect how the Chiefs build their team?

The Chiefs are ending the strong/weak designations as best they can. For example, Eric Berry plays “strong safety.” However, his skill set is more of a free safety skill set. Jovan Belcher is more of a traditional strong inside linebacker. However, Brandon Siler was signed with a more versatile skill set. He can play either of the inside linebacker spots. At right tackle, Barry Richardson can swing to the left side.

When you are looking at the Chiefs draft, keep these ideas in mind. What I do is forget about strong safeties. I am looking only at safeties that have good cover skills and can tackle. Inside linebacker is the same story. I avoid linebackers that only project to the strong side. Look for linebackers that can be effective in either spot. The same idea holds true for offensive tackles. Tackles that project to the right side only are off my list. The right tackle spot is changing and becoming more akin to left tackles. This will increase the value of those tackles come draft time. It’s why I would be fine with drafting an offensive tackle at position 11/12 even if he never displaces Branden Albert at left tackle. The Chiefs need tackles that can match up against elite pass rushers. We are entering an age of versatility. The quicker the Chiefs adjust, the better.

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