Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Assessing the Chiefs' Preseason Break Out Stars

Last night I dreamt that the passing attack Kansas City trotted out on versus Seattle was pitted against the pass defense Kansas City trotted out versus Seattle. Worst.Nightmare.Ever.

One of the promising things everyone seems to be talking about was Nate Eachus’ late game heroics against the Seahawks as he rumbled for 98 yards and a touchdown, winning a couple hearts in the process. Eachus’ performance is the type that a marginal player requires to receive a second look and potentially earn a roster spot. The preseason is full of break out stars around the league that offer hope for the regular season, but fizzle out when presented with the prospect of 16 full games against first team talent. So here are your breakout stars through three weeks of preseason football, their prospects for future success, plus a bonus prediction for Thursday’s game for you to disagree with me on.

Game 1 (Chiefs v. Cardinals)

Break Out Star: Tight End Steve Maneri

Game Stats: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 69 yards, 23.0 yards/catch

How He Got Here: Drafted out of Temple by New England as a tackle, picked up on waivers and played sparingly for Kansas City in 2011. Dropped 40 pounds over the offseason to return to his college position of tight end.

Buy/Sell Preseason Stardom Translating Into Regular Season Success:
With Tony Moeaki returning from injury and former Raider Kevin Boss looking stellar so far, the Chiefs aren’t looking for another offensive weapon for their third tight end roster spot, where Maneri is competing with Jake O’Connell, who’s had eight NFL starts at tight end. Maneri is a more unknown commodity but should make the roster by either beating out O’Connell or simply providing another warm body able to block now that FB Shane Bannon has been cut. Maneri won’t receive extended playing time, but will punch a couple holes open in three tight end sets and should be good for a surprise 5 yard out route in the red zone this year. Buy.

Game 2 (Chiefs at Rams)

Break Out Star: Nose Tackle Jerrell Powe

Game Stats: None (Designated ‘breakout star’ despite not recording a tackle this game by providing consistent pressure, demanding double teams, and because I don’t think he gets enough respect. Also, I’m not sure who else deserves the designation.)

How He Got Here: Drafted out of Ole Miss by Kansas City in the 6th round in 2011.

Buy/Sell Preseason Stardom Translating Into Regular Season Success:
Will Powe make the roster with Anthony Toribio slated to start at nose tackle and Dontari Poe assuring his spot by virtue of his first round pick? Powe has all the makings of a damn good football player with none of the results. He was a five star recruit, but was denied college admission two straight years and spent a third at Ole Miss ineligible to play. When h was eligible he was the top rated nose tackle prospect entering his final season, but disappointed and ended up being drafted in the sixth round. At this point Powe is showing more consistency than Dontari, and I believe he’ll be on the roster on opening weekend. Assuming he’s more ready than Dontari, he could spot Toribio a few plays in the second half of games. However, his job remains commanding double teams so that Hali is free to eat quarterbacks, so don’t expect much movement in the stats column. Push.

Game 3 (Chiefs v. Seahawks)

Break Out Star: Running Back Nate Eachus

Game Stats: 10 carries, 98 yards, 9.8 yards/carry, 1 touchdown

How He Got Here: Rookie, undrafted out of Division I-AA Colgate University.

Buy/Sell Preseason Stardom Translating Into Regular Season Success:
Eachus survived Monday’s cut from 89 to 75 players, but must still beat out 22 others to even make the team. His presence may be more insurance than interest at this point in the preseason, as the starters will be played sparingly against the Packers and coordinator DaBoll may hide the helmets of Hillis and Charles after the first drive for good measure. Similar to Maneri, Eachus benefits from Bannon being cut as more room is now available in the backfield, leaving Shawn Draugh, Cyrus Gray, and Eachus to play out this game. With Gray still battling injuries, expect Eachus to receive a few carries as the Chiefs’ staff give him another look following last week’s performance. However, he remains a longshot to make the roster, and even then a loaded backfield means Eachus would be a special teams contributor at most. Sell.

Game 4 (Chiefs at Packers)

Projected Break Out Star: Quarterback Alex Tanney

Projected Game Stats: 8 for 12 passing, 102 yards, -2 yards rushing, 1 passing touchdown

How He Got Here: The undrafted Youtube sensation from NCAA III Monmouth College was originally picked up by Buffalo and signed as a free agent with Kansas City over the summer.

Buy/Sell Preseason Stardom Translating Into Regular Season Success:
Tanney was a pleasant surprise against Green Bay after receiving minimal attention during training camp and watching most reps go to Quinn and Stanzi as they battled for the #2 spot. However, dissatisfaction with Stanzi’s play to this point caused the organization to give Tanney a chance and he impressed by hitting Jamar Newsome on a 55 yard touchdown pass and demonstrating better than expected decision-making overall. However, he also put the ball on the ground after being pressured out of the pocket (fortunately recovered by Eachus) and was too hesitant at times. Stanzi finally flashed the potential we’ve been waiting for by hooking up with Terrance Copper twice for touchdowns and ultimately giving Pioli the confidence that Stanzi has the skills to serve as the #3 QB. Tanney will be relegated to the practice squad and have to wait another year to get his shot in the pros. Sell.

So what do you think Addicts – which of these players are the real deal? And who do you expect to step up with an unexpectedly powerful performance at Green Bay that wins them a spot on the final roster?

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