The date is Jan. 9, 2011. The place is Arrowhead Stadium. The final score was Ravens 30, Chiefs 7. The total yards in the game were equally lopsided, 390 to 161. That game was definitely an eye opener. The young, upstart Chiefs were coming off a surprise 10-6 season where they won the division. Chiefs fans were on cloud nine. That is, until the Ravens sent us all crashing back to Earth. Despite having a lot of young talented play makers like Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali, and Eric Berry, the Chiefs were no match for Baltimore in the trenches. Both the offensive and defensive lines were manhandled by the physical Ravens team.
Now fast forward to the Chiefs’ 2012 draft class.
Round 1 – NT – Dontari Poe – 6’3″ 346 lbs
Round 2 – OG – Jeff Allen – 6’4″ 307 lbs
Round 3 – OT – Donald Stephenson – 6’6″ 312 lbs
I know it’s not flashy. I know it’s not the specific players that most of us would have picked. I know many of you are frustrated with KC’s approach to this draft, but the fact of the matter is that this draft class is exactly what KC needs in order to compete with the big dogs in the NFL. We need to be able to go toe to toe in the trenches. Our skill players (okay, minus the quarterback) are more than good enough:
We have guys that can make plays on both sides of the ball. If you compare those skill position players to those of other teams that have made playoff runs without an elite QB like the Jets, Ravens, and 49ers, you can make a strong case that KC’s skill players are just as good or better. The difference is that those teams have been dominant at the line of scrimmage. They set the tone. “We’re in charge.” “We’re the stronger team.” “We’re the bully and we’re going to push you around and there isn’t anything you can do about it.”
On Jan. 9, 2011 the Baltimore Ravens were the bully and the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t strong enough to stand up to them. Then, during the offseason, the Chiefs didn’t really do anything to remedy the problem. Yes, they drafted Rodney Hudson and Allen Bailey, but Hudson barely saw the field last year and Bailey only played on passing downs. In the starting base formations the only changes were swapping out Brian Waters for Jon Asamoah and Ron Edwards for Kelly Gregg. I love Asamoah, but he wasn’t a big enough physical upgrade over Waters for there to be a HUGE improvement with the rest of the OL remaining the same. The same can be said for Gregg: he may have been better than Edwards, but he wasn’t physically dominating at the line of scrimmage. We like to blame last season on the injuries, but those first couple of games we got dominated by teams like Buffalo and Detroit and part of that was because we weren’t strong enough up front.
I don’t know if each of the Chiefs’ first three draft picks this year will work out. For all we know they could either all bust or all three become Pro Bowlers (can there be Pro Bowlers if there is no more Pro Bowl?). That having been said, even though these players as a whole aren’t exciting, and even though Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson aren’t names that most fans recognize there selections signal that the Kansas City Chiefs are tired of being pushed around up front. It signals that they recognize that to win games with a good defense and a strong running game you MUST win the line of scrimmage. That’s why I’m okay with these picks.
If you’re not, I suggest you remember Jan. 9, 2011. I suggest you remember the Ravens game.