Yes, last week I did tell you that it would make sense to trade Brandon Albert. That doesn’t meant necessarily mean that I think we should do it.
I’m basically willing to go either way on Albert because I accept my own ignorance on the two great unknowns to the whole conversation: 1.) What Albert is asking in the contract negotiations and 2.) What his long-term health looks like in the opinions of the team doctors. We know his play on the field has been good, but the two factors mentioned above will determine whether he will play for the Chiefs in 2014.
Assuming Albert has a clean bill of health and can be brought back into the fold without breaking the bank, our offensive line is pretty much a finished product. Second-year tackle Donald Stephenson, I think, showed enough on the left side in relief of an injured Albert to warrant a shot at RT. Hudson will be back from injury, Asamoah has been playing strong and free agent pickup Geoff Schwartz can play both inside and out. If the Chiefs use a mid-round pick on a right tackle prospect and/or pick up a journeyman lineman for the veteran minimum, I think we we’re pretty much set in terms of depth and quality starters.
With that in mind, what do you do when you have the highest pick on a team that has no glaring holes? You have the luxury to do whatever you want. Grab an impact player that has the potential to be a difference-maker regardless of position.
When it comes to premium positions and this year’s draft class, I think that difference-maker is an outside pass rusher. Here’s what’s great about this year’s crop of pass rushers – it’s like Baskin Robbins, there’s a guy for every flavor. If you’re looking for a raw stud with a huge ceiling, you have Ezekiel Ansah. Want a more polished prospect from a premiere team? Take Barkevious Mingo. A Bruce Irvin fan? Well, basically the same guy is available this year, except he was more productive and his name is Jarvis Jones.
For my money though, I like me some Dion Jordan because he is so versatile. I know a lot of you are going to instantly say that I am crazy because we already have two high-end pass rushers. But, especially given that we have a D-line that can’t pass rush if their life depended on it, we need constant production out of our blitzing ‘backers. The best way to ensure that is to keep them fresh with a good rotation.
Hali in particular seemed to get worn out late in games last year, clocking just one sack in the 4th quarter all season (Houston had three). To be fair, in most 2012 games, the Chiefs were practically in body bags waiting for the coroner by the 4th. Most teams were content to grind it out on the ground until they could go home and celebrate.
Nonetheless, with Tamba turning 30 this year, it would be a good idea to cycle someone else in occasionally to keep him fresh and ready.
Furthermore, Dion Jordan brings some talents to the table that Houston and Hali don’t. The first and most obvious one is height. At 6’6”, Jordan would be the tallest guy on our side of the field. He also has longer-than-average arms (33 7/8’) and bigger-than-average hands (10’). Originally a tight end, he can find the ball and not only bat it down, with a bit of training he could be make some opportunistic catches as well.
Imagine 3rd downs when the Chiefs move to a 3-3-5 front with Hali, Houston and Jordan all charging forward. You could then play with that format and have Jordan fake the blitz then sit on one of the QB’s dump-off routes on the flat or short down the middle. That’s an interception waiting to happen.
The only knock against Jordan currently is that he could use a bit more polishing. Despite his blazing speed (having run the 40 at 4.60) and production (10.5 sacks in 12 games his senior year), he is still transitioning into the position. In the Scouts Inc. profile of him, the only area where they ranked him as “average” was in instincts/recognition, saying, “Work in progress. Has natural playmaking instincts. Has a good feel for attacking blockers and how to keep them off of his body. Shows impressive awareness and confidence in space for a guy with his frame. Can be a quarter-count late locating the ball at times. Needs to sense when to gear down in order to not outrun the play. Also will get caught peeking inside on occasion when having edge responsibility.”
To me, that’s all the more reason why the Chiefs would be a great landing spot. In KC, we won’t have to force him onto the field and rely on him to start full time. He can watch and learn behind Tamba and Houston and play in subpackages. And, as much as I hate to even entertain this concept, he could make for a great post-Hali plan.
Tamba’s production is still great, especially for a team that no one bothered to pass against last year. But he is one of our highest-paid players with a cap hit of over $15 million this year and he won’t be playing at a pro-bowl level forever once he’s on the other side of 30. Jordan is also injury insurance for Houston and Hali until that day comes. With nothing but run-stuffers up front, we need two guys on the field on every play who can get to the passer.
Pass rusher is a position where you can never have too much depth, particularly in a division with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. If we want to make sure that the Donkeys don’t see another Super Bowl before we do, our best chance is to make Manning’s life as uncomfortable as possible twice a year (and possibly more).