When Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli sat down with the media after the conclusion of the 2012 NFL Draft he stated that he was excited because the core of the 2012 Chiefs is now in place. He did say that in addition to undrafted free agents they were also talking with some veteran free agents so we could see some more roster additions before training camp rolls around. However, we now have a good idea at what the 2012 Chiefs will look like. So the question is, have they improved?
So today we’ll look at the roster by position and see if we’re in better shape now than we were last season.
Let’s get started….
Last season: Matt Cassel/Kyle Orton, Tyler Palko, Ricky Stanzi
This season: Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Ricky Stanzi
I know many KC fans are frustrated by the fact that Cassel is going to be the starter for another season. But the fact of the matter is that the QB situation is still better today than it was a year ago. Brady Quinn may not be great but he’s definitely better than Tyler Palko as the #2 QB and Ricky Stanzi will now have a full offseason program to help him develop. It’s not a drastic improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.
Last season: Jackie Battle, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, LeRon McClain
This season: Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, Dexter McCluster, Cyrus Gray
Charles being injured almost the entire season last year was a devastating blow to the position. His return upgrades the position by itself. The additions of Hillis and Gray should also be upgrades over Jones and Battle. The only question is the FB position. However, even if last year’s seventh-round pick Shane Bannon fills the role (but I wouldn’t rule out a veteran FA signing), the overall RB squad is still much improved.
Last season: Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jonathan Baldwin, Terrance Copper, Jeremy Horne, Keary Colbert, Jerheme Urban
This season: Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jonathan Baldwin, Devon Wylie, Junior Hemmingway, Terrance Copper, Jeremy Horne
I’m working under the assumption that Bowe will play this season under the franchise tag. I’m not sure if he’ll sign a long-term deal or not, but even if he doesn’t he should still eventually report and play hard to earn a fat paycheck from someone in 2013. Other than that we’re basically looking at the two new rookies replacing waiver wire players. Even if they aren’t huge contributors this should still be a clear upgrade. Could this be the first year of the Scott Pioli era where the WR position is so deep that special teams stand out Terrance Copper can’t earn a roster spot?
Last season: Leonard Pope, Jake O’Connell, Anthony Becht, Steve Maneri
This season: Tony Moeaki, Kevin Boss, Jake O’Connell, Steve Maneri
Let’s see, Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss or Leonard Pope and Anthony Becht? Not a hard call there. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing one more TE get signed and knock Jake O’Connell right off the roster, forever.
Last season: Branden Albert, Ryan Lilja, Casey Wiegmann, Jon Asamoah, Barry Richardson, Rodney Hudson, Jared Gaither, David Mims
This season: Branden Albert, Ryan Lilja, Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah, Eric Winston, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, David Mims
So obviously the inability of the Chiefs to find a use for Jared Gaither was incredibly frustrating, especially since he went to a division rival and played so well. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the offensive line is drastically improved. Wiegmann was a great leader but physically he got pushed around at the point of attack. The younger and stronger Hudson should be a clear upgrade there as long as he can make the correct protection calls at the line of scrimmage. Eric Winston replacing Barry Richardson is the single biggest upgrade any team will have at one position this season, period. Then the depth provided by this year’s second- and third-round picks should make this a hands down MASSIVE upgrade. Also, don’t be surprised if Allen replaces Lilja at some point.
Last season: Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Kelly Gregg, Allen Bailey, Amon Gordon, Wallace Gilberry, Jerrell Powe, Brendon Bair
This season: Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Amon Gordon, Jerrell Powe, Jerome Long, Brendon Bair
This is where things get interesting. Dontari Poe is the question here. If he gets dominated by NFL linemen then this area could actually be worse off than last year. Kelly Gregg wasn’t anything special last year, but he wasn’t a liability either. Poe has the physical tools to be the most dominant force the Chiefs have had on the defensive line since Neil Smith left town. I’m also curious as to who will line up in sub packages next to Bailey. Gilberry gave KC little to no production there last season so it wouldn’t be hard to upgrade there either. I simply can’t make a call on the defensive line. This is the one area I’ll call a question mark.
I’ll make this simple, Demorrio Williams is gone and Brandon Siler is coming back from injury. Other than that, everything is the same.
DJ and Hali are in their prime and shouldn’t be showing signs of slowing down yet. Jovan Belcher is only 24 so if anything he should still be improving. The biggest areas of change over last year will be Justin Houston entering the season as the unquestioned starter over Andy Studebaker. With a full offseason Houston should be even better. Also, there is the possibility of Siler beating out Belcher and upgrading that position if he’s healthy. So overall, the LB core at worst should be the same with the possibility of being even better.
Last season: Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Kendrick Lewis, Jon McGraw, Javier Arenas, Travis Daniels, Donald Washington, Sabby Piscatelli, Rashard Langford, Jalil Brown
This season: Brandon Flowers, Stanford Routt, Kendrick Lewis, Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, Travis Daniels, DeQuan Menzie, Jalil Brown, Donald Washington
Even with a downgrade from Carr to Routt, the improvement of Eric Berry over the combo of McGraw/Washington/Piscatelli/Langford that played in his place last season more than makes up for the drop off. If Menzie can play as well in the slot as many scouts say he can, then this should also be a clearly improved unit.
The three key special teams specialists (Colquitt, Succop, and Gafford) are all returning. Gone is special teams coordinator Steve “So what if they blocked one field goal, I’m sure it won’t happen again” Hoffman. The Chiefs STs haven’t exactly set the world on fire the past couple seasons so an improvement shouldn’t be that difficult to come by. Devon Wylie could add some playmaking ability to the return game. Much like the LB core, special teams at worst should be the same, with the possibility of there being a clear upgrade.
So after looking at the entire roster, here is where we stand: Six areas are better off than they were last season (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, and the secondary). Two areas are at worst the same and possibly improved (LB and ST); the DL is the one area that is still a question mark (and even it could be much improved if Poe pans out). I don’t know about you, but all in all, I’d call that a pretty productive offseason. Bottom line is that the Chiefs have either added or are getting back from injury WAY more talent than what they are losing. I mean, which group would you rather have?
Kyle Orton, Tyler Palko, Jackie Battle, Thomas Jones, LeRon McClain, Keary Colbert, Jerheme Urban, Leonard Pope, Anthony Becht, Barry Richardson, Jared Gaither, Casey Wiegmann, Kelly Gregg, Wallace Gilberry, Demorrio Williams, Brandon Carr, Jon McGraw and Sabby Piscatelli
Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, Cyrus Gray, Devon Wylie, Junior Hemmingway, Tony Moeaki, Kevin Boss, Eric Winston, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Dontari Poe, Jerome Long, Brandon Siler, Stanford Routt, Eric Berry and DeQuan Menzie
The really exciting thing is that despite the fact that KC was hammered by injuries and giving regular playing time to Tyler Palko, Barry Richardson, Thomas Jones, and Sabby Piscatelli, they still finished 7-9 and were one win away from the playoffs. With this improved roster ,every KC fan should be eyeing not only the division but finally breaking the streak of no playoff wins.
We may not always agree with the individual moves that Scott Pioli makes, but the overall talent level of the Chiefs roster has done nothing but improve since he took over as GM. If you went back and compared today’s roster with the roster when Pioli took over, the difference would be staggering.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for training camp to get here.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!