Two weeks ago in this very space, we mulled over the possible options for the Kansas City Chiefs at #11 overall. After poring through a long line of prospects, I endorsed Alabama RB Trent Richardson with the pick if the Chiefs weren’t able to trade down, with Iowa tackle Riley Reiff as close second.
Needless to say, that list needs to be updated.
So in light of all the horrendous news about the Saints’ bounty program (and how that program may implicate us as well), let’s get down to brass tacks and break down my favorite options for the Chiefs at #11 overall:
1. Trade to the future, not down.
The Chiefs need depth across their roster, but they only have two real holes at the starter positions: quarterback, where they have Matt Cassel, and nose tackle on defense, where they have nobody but guy-off-the-street Amon Gordon and sixth-round pick Jerrell Powe. Since neither position really offers much for the Chiefs to consider at #11 (QB Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M is second-round value, as is the dramatically overrated NT Dontari Poe out of Memphis), it might suit the Chiefs best to trade the #11 pick away.
Now, I don’t think the Chiefs should trade down, necessarily. I’ve got a better idea: they should trade to the future.
The reality is that the Chiefs cannot upgrade Matt Cassel in 2012. There are no options in free agency that are appealing, and there are no options in the Draft that can push him.
But that changes in 2013. In 2013, there will be no fewer than four quarterbacks coming out of college with first-round grades. It’s a great year to be a team in need of a quarterback, as the Chiefs surely will be.
If that’s the case, and our starting roster is currently set with the exception of nose tackle, there is no need to accumulate more picks in the 2012 draft *IF* they are pretty much set.
No, instead what the Chiefs need to do is accumulate picks in 2013. Give us as much firepower as possible for next year, so if there’s a guy we really like, we can exercise maximum flexibility with all the picks we could potentially pick up for next year with our picks this year.
Trading down was my favorite option two weeks ago. Now I’ve got my sights set higher: I want to trade for the future.
2. OG David DeCastro, Stanford
Hopefully you’ve been following the draft closely enough so that I don’t have to sell you on David DeCastro, the best guard prospect to come out of college football in something like 15 years. Guard is a really goofy position to draft at #11 overall, but for a player like DeCastro, it can’t help but make sense.
And yes, I realize I am the same guy who threw a tantrum throughout the 2010 offseason due to rumors that the Chiefs could draft Bryan Bulaga, a true right tackle, at #5 overall (a pick that was used, instead, on S Eric Berry). And here I am, two seasons later, advocating a guard — an even less important position than right tackle! — at #11 overall.
Well, two responses to that. The first is that Bulaga never warranted the top 10 consideration that people were heaving on him in 2010. He was actually drafted in the 20s by the Green Bay Packers, which is pretty close to what his value was then.
DeCastro, by comparison, is a top 5 talent in this year’s draft. QB Andrew Luck, QB Robert Griffin III, RB Trent Richardson and CB Morris Claiborne are really the only prospects that can hold a candle to him. If the Chiefs do not draft him at #11 overall, he will be drafted only a few picks later.
The second response is that compared to the 2010, the 2012 Chiefs have virtually no serious holes other than nose tackle on their roster. The 2010 roster had holes everywhere, and were deep into GM Scott Pioli’s rebuilding process. The 2012 roster is mostly ready to roll, and will be drafting primarily for depth across the team.
Adding DeCastro (and booting undersized veteran guard Ryan Lilja, which you figure would have to happen) would give the Chiefs a starting five of:
LT Branden Albert
LG David DeCastro
C Rodney Hudson
RG Jon Asamoah
RT Eric Winston
That’s not only a top 3 offensive line in the NFL in terms of both pass protection and runblocking, that’s an offensive line that threatens to rival the famed offensive lines from Dick Vermeil’s Chiefs.
3. OLB Nick Perry, USC
Rookie OLB Justin Houston ended his 2011 campaign with only 5.5 sacks — all of which he earned in the last month of the season. That’s right.
Folks, Houston is getting it, and he is going to be good. If he can keep that pace all year, he and OLB Tamba Hali could combine for 30 total sacks, which would of course outdo the entire 2011 Chiefs season. They are clearly one of the most lethal bookend passrushing duos on a 3-4 defense in the NFL.
The problem is that no position is immune to the injury bug. And if either Hali or Houston go down with injury, this defense is in the same stymied position it was in 2011; good talent, but no ability to get after the quarterback.
Assuming the Chiefs are in the hunt all of 2012 (very realistic, considering the amazing talent on this roster), they will need someone to be able to step in and keep the team championship-competitive if either of our starters go down. Right now, we have Cameron Sheffield, Andy Studebaker, and Gabe Miller in the wings. This will not do.
Perry is a bit undersized, but he has a lot of the same attributes that made me love Houston as a prospect last year. He is incredibly enthusiastic on the field and never stops until the whistle blows, and he bolts around corners with great speed. He could use a season in only special packages that Crennel dreams up, giving him time to learn some new moves (something he clearly needs to do). Given a few moves, Perry takes our defense a speed and versatility of our defense to the next level.
Check out this nickel package:
Lethal, lethal, lethal.
Now, I’ve had people tell me this is less than a wise idea. That if you’re going to draft somebody at #11 overall, they have to be a starter, like a nose tackle.
But the Chiefs were in their base package with a nose tackle only about 50 percent of their defensive snaps this season. They were in nickel and assorted subpackages the rest of the year.
So if you give me a choice between a pass rushing specialist like Perry who will play 50 percent of the snaps, or a nose tackle that will play 50 percent of the snaps, I’ll respond the way I always do: “who’s better?”
4. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, or CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
Let’s play with this idea for a moment. Chiefs are on the clock at #11, can’t trade down, and Kirkpatrick and/or Janoris Jenkins are still on the board.
If that is the case, how interested might you be in pulling the trigger? (Keep in mind the usual suspects will be at the #11 pick, DeCastro, all the tackles, ILB Luke Kuechly from Boston College, Poe.)
If you bring on a corner, especially a stud like Jenkins, you have the best three corner combo in the NFL, and Arenas in the slot (where he’s excelled) if you need him.
If you’re REALLY concerned about Manning winning the division over you, this isn’t the worst thought in the world.
The Jets showed us that if you have enough talent at CB, then you really can neuter even the best of franchise QBs. Brady is arguably the best QB in the league, and he has to throw away from his WRs when he plays the Jets.
The only problem there is that you have to REALLY stack the CB position like the Jets did. It’s too much money to tie up in one position.
Except, Flowers would be the only corner in KC with a fat contract. Routt + Jenkins’ rookie contract together would be cheaper than Brandon Carr, bar none. Financially, it’s completely doable, and the Chiefs would still have double digits in millions of dollars in cap room.
Manning would have to hit his tight end(s) and check down receivers, because Flowers and Routt are largely neutralizing his #1 and #2, and all Jenkins has to do is shut down the #3. Arenas covers the slot. And we’ve all seen how mortal Manning looks when he’s frustrated.
Plus, this gives us insurance for an elite CB duo if Routt doesn’t pan out.
It’s a thought.