Chiefs Holes to Fill: Homegrown, Draft or Free Agency

The Kansas City Chiefs have some serious holes that need to be filled. While the team made a franchise best turnaround last season going from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 and a playoff berth this past year, the team isn’t complete. The team of general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid will have their hands full this off season figuring out a way to fill those holes while keeping the Chiefs under the ever present salary cap.

Most would agree that the Chiefs have primarily three positions that are of huge need moving into the 2014 season.

The first one of those positions would a wide receiver. Having viable targets for Alex Smith to throw to is extremely important. While Dwayne Bowe was the leading receiver among guys with “WR” next to his name, he wasn’t the leading receiver on the team. This was due partly because the “D-Bowe Show” was never able to create separating or a rapport with his new quarterback until the latter half of the season. By that time, it was too late. The other reason was Bowe was constantly covered because other teams quickly figured out what other Chiefs fans already knew: the Chiefs didn’t have a threat lining up on the opposite side of the field from Bowe.

Yes, Donnie Avery served his purpose when he could hold onto the ball. Dexter McCluster served his purpose and Reid hasn’t hid the fact that he really loved using the diminutive receiver in special packages. But the truth was, there was never a threat that they were going to have a breakout game. Opposing defenses knew this and thus were comfortable leaving them in single coverage while they concentrated on Bowe.

So if the Chiefs really want to take their passing game to the next level, what do they do? They have plenty of homegrown talentthat could conceivably become that WR2. Our newest staff writer here at AA, Jospeh Hoyt, wrote a piece yesterday about A.J. Jenkins getting ready to break out. But, in addition to Jenkins the Chiefs also have Junior Hemmingway who had some brief flashes of brilliance last season as well as newly signed Weston Dressler who as our co-editor Ben Nielsen reported, was just signed this week by the Chiefs from the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Does the answer lie with them?

Turning to free agency, there are several talented wide receivers dabbling in the open market. The two biggest names that pop off

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) and free safety Chris Maragos (42) chase Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) in the third quarter in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

the page are the Denver Broncos Eric Decker and the Philadelphia Eagles Jeremy Maclin. Ben also covered Decker and the likelihood he signs with the Chiefs.

Turning to the draft, there are no shortage of wide receivers trying to make their break in the NFL this year. While the Chiefs have had rough luck with receivers since drafting Bowe in 2008, they could hope to break that streak this year. In fact, both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay drafted receivers to the Chiefs in their first post-Super Bowl mock drafts of the year.

The next position of need for the Chiefs is in the defensive backfield. The Chiefs need a hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety who can play center field when Chiefs pro bowler Eric Berry is patrolling the line of scrimmage. Many thought when Berry and free safety Kendrick Lewis were drafted four rounds apart in the 2010 NFL Draft, that they would be the “dynamic duo” that led the Chiefs backfield for years. After last season, it’s quite evident that’s not the case.

Looking to talent already on the roster could prove to be a bit more difficult than the receivers. Quintin Demps, Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker all played snaps in the safety position. All three of these players are serviceable backups but none showed any kind of flair for being a “lights out” starter. The only other name on the roster that is a bit of an unknown is Sanders Commings, the Chiefs fifth-round draft pick from last year’s draft. Commings broke his collar bone in the preseason last year and spent the entire season on the sideline.

Looking to the draft could prove to be a better option. Draft Tek shows three free safeties in the top 60 prospects on their “big board.” Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is the top prospect at this position and likely out of the Chiefs reach, as he currently sits in the top 15 overall prospects. The next guy on the list could also prove to be a huge pick up, but would be a slight reach for the Chiefs who draft at 23. Calvin Pryor from Louisville has shot up the draft board after the Senior Bowl and has caught the eye of many teams.

The problem is, if the Chiefs don’t draft a free safety with their first round pick, they won’t get another shot at one until the the third round. By that time, the top two prospects as well as the third potential pick, Ed Reynolds from Stanford, will be long gone.  This leaves the Chiefs in a bit of a bind with drafting a free safety. They can trade up to get Clinton-Dix, reach to get Pryor or Reynolds or hold out and hope for the best with a later round pick.

Nov 17, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd (31) runs the ball after a interception during the first half against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Of course there is one other option for the Chiefs. There is one guy who is scheduled to hit free agency that will turn a lot of heads from a lot of teams. Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd hasn’t made any secrets about the fact that he doesn’t want to wear an over-sized cow on his helmet next year. In fact, he didn’t really want to play for the team this year, all but saying he wanted a trade out of Buffalo. He’ll have a huge price tag attached to his name, but if Dorsey was able to work the numbers and really wanted to make a splash in free agency, signing Byrd would be the way. Having Byrd and Berry in the same defensive backfield would create a situation that rivaled the Seattle Seahawk’s “Legion of Boom.”

The third position that the Chiefs need to seriously address this off season is on the defensive line. Unless something crazy happens, Tyson Jackson played his last game as a Chief on January 4 against the Indianapolis Colts. While Jackson made huge strides this season with his play and did the honorable thing before the season and took a huge pay cut to help the team, he’s going to want to get paid this season. I just don’t see that happening in Kansas City.

One of the biggest reasons for the decline in the Chiefs defense was their lack of pass rush in the second half of the season. That doesn’t look to change moving into 2014. Tamba Hali isn’t getting any younger and Justin Houston is coming off of huge injuries. Dontari Poe proved he could get to the quarterback if he had help along the line. Mike DeVito was an excellent run stopper, but didn’t get any push in the pocket.

With Jackson gone, the Chiefs will have to fill a huge hole on their defensive line. As with the other holes, the best — and cheapest — option would be to turn over the talent already on the roster. Earlier this week, AA senior staff writer Stacy D. Smith made a case for Allen Bailey to fill the void left by the impending departure of Jackson. While that may ultimately be what happens, there are a couple of other options.

Dec 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston (99) reacts during the game against the Denver Broncos at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There might well be a revolt in Chiefs Kingdom if Dorsey takes a defensive lineman with the team’s first-round pick this year. After the previous regime led by Scott Pioli took defensive linemen far too often — at least, it seemed like it — this fan base has no taste for the best pick their team holds being used on a big guy up front. Assuming that Dorsey agrees with this assessment, that would leave the Chiefs using a later round pick for a defensive end, which is possible.

The final choice would be signing a free agent that could come at a reduced cost but give the Chiefs a similar capability. One player that intrigues me is Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston. Now, before you go all crazy in the comments section, yes, I understand Houston is a typical 4-3 end and not a 3-4 end. However, he did play defensive tackle in college and if the goal was to add a player who could rush the passer, he may fit into this scheme better than many think. I think a front seven that included Poe, Lamaar Houston, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali coming after a quarterback would be a scary sight for any team who wants to keep their quarterback upright.

So that’s it, Addicts. The three biggest holes as I see them and the three possible ways to fill each one. What do you think? If you were in Dorsey’s shoes which direction would you lean? Let us know by sounding off below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!

Topics: Donnie Avery, Eric Decker, Jairus Byrd, Kansas City Chiefs, Kendrick Lewis, Lamarr Houston, Tyson Jackson

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  • Hawthorne

    There are too many good FSs who got picked in later rounds for us to use a first round pick on one. Ladner can likely be had later in the draft and we can pick up Collins on a show me contract in FA. We have Commings and can resign Abdullah. Whoever we pick in the first has to be the replacement for one of our most expensive players, that means WR, OLB/DE, or CB. Ideally I would like to see us pick Aaron Donald, Marquee Lee, or Justin Gilbert.

    • CrispySBC

      This draft is really deep at DE and WR so we should be able to pick-up quality players at both positions later in the draft. If you look at the list of invitees, to the combine, both positions are chocked full of players. Good news for the Chief’s.

  • freshmeat62

    While reading this I made lots of notes, so now I’ll see if I can put them together into something coherent

    One thing that Chiefs can probably do to help their offense is design some pick plays. Heaven knows they were used against them last year, and if the officials aren’t going to call it, then run them.

    I thought McCluster could have been used a little more in the passing game. He has good hands and catches the ball. But it looks now like the kid out of Canada is going to replace him for money reasons.

    I think Flowers is gone. He doesn’t fit the Chiefs scheme, and he’s paid too much for his production, or lack there of.

    I don’t see the Chiefs trading up since they’re already short 1 draft pick. If anything I would expect them to trade back getting another pick in the process. From what I’ve read the Reynolds kid might be the way to go. He has good size and speed (for a safety) and he’s from Stanford, so he has to have something on the ball. He and Richard Sherman, another Stanford guy, can talk trash at next years SB.

    As for the d-line, if Dorsey/Reid pay any attention at all about the fans being upset if they take a d-lineman because so many have been taken in the past, then they need to get different jobs. I don’t give a rat’s patoot what someone in the past did if there is a guy there that will help the team the most.

    I have every faith in the world in Dorsey/Reid getting the types of players they want to build a SB team. Although last years draft might say otherwise, but injuries did play a role in that w/ Kelce and Commings. But we can look at those 2 as rookies this year and hope they were worth the picks. After all, they did go from 2 to 11 wins, and even if it was an easier schedule, they beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and also a couple they weren’t suppose to beat.

    • berttheclock

      Funny you mention picks because when Mike Mayock called the Colts’ game, he said a couple of times about the Chiefs using picks that as a former defensive back, he couldn’t believe so many teams were getting away with picks. But, I applaud you for your very coherent post. However, one thing bothers me about having to depend on Commings. His shoulder was injured and he missed most of the season. Now, he passed his physical to return, but, he re-injured the same shoulder and had to leave the field. Yes, there will be a long off season to heal, but, for myself, it does raise a red flag about his durability. I hope he makes it back in great shape, but, that position is a must to solidify

      • toperspective

        Not only his durability but he also hasn’t proved he can do anything in the NFL….yet.

    • berttheclock

      About not having a 2nd round pick, you realize that micah still believes we should trade our “current 2nd round pick” to move up and take a QB. Geez, there must be a Geno Smith clone somewhere in the new draft, eh?

      • Calchiefsfan

        We can get a Geno Smith equivalent in the third or fourth round in this years draft, it’s so deep in QBs. Where’s the Russell Wilson for 2014?

  • CrispySBC

    I still think Calvin Pryor is the way to go. I wouldn’t say he’s a “stretch” since several mock drafts have him going to the Eagles at 22 and the Saints at 28. Once we hit the combine we’ll see what he’s all about and find out if he’s even available at 23.

    • CrispySBC

      Hey I just saw CBS mock draft and they have Pryor going 22 to Eagle’s and Ha Ha going 23 to the Chief’s …. I feel vindicated with my selection … BOOM brown pants.:) BTW, they have Clowney going number 1 which I don’t see anyway they don’t take a QB with the first pick …. mocks can be such a joke when they show players taken that don’t relate to team needs.

      • berttheclock

        What is interesting about your comment is most mock pickers depend on reading the needs of any team in the first place and really follow any word floating about by various GMs. I still believe the term “best player available” is vastly overused as most GMs do draft for need, especially, in the higher rounds. Their version of “BPA, is, usually, the best player they believe fits their respective needs. I recall the days of Al Davis being very open about who he wanted, so, all the mocks had his selections. Afterwards, they could crow about how “correct” they had been. Remember another thing about mocks is after the draft the winning mocker is only based on the most correct picks out of 32 and often the winner does not have many correct picks. Sort of like he was closest to the hole.

        • toperspective

          I hate myself for even looking at these moronic mock drafts. What a waste of time. They bear no relation to reality.

  • Justin

    I wouldn’t mind is trading:cutting flowers and maybe moving Daniels using that cap space on Byrd draft a corner with out second round pick and pick up a reciver via free agency

    • toperspective

      Cutting Flowers only saves 3.5M in cap. I think he is worth that.

      • Justin

        But I think Byrd would be a better option flowers got picked apart last season plus we could not cover the deep ball at all.

        • toperspective

          I just don’t see where the money would come from to sign Byrd. The Chiefs have real salary cap issues. Plus big FA signings don’t seem to pan out as expected. I’m hoping Flowers bounces back in 2014.

        • tm1946

          No mon, no fun, your son, to bad, so sad, your dad.
          There is no money and little in the way of draft picks to play with. We are in some kind of cap hell and with no #2, really limited.

  • Justin

    Our defence would be a lot better even with loosing flowers. I now have faith in Alex smith to carry the team with the players he already has around him.

    • tm1946

      No problem losing Flowers but the team HAS to get something for him. A guy who can start and has more than a couple of years left in him or draft pick, goodness knows who that would be. Then somewhere you need a CB to replace Flowers, a real CB not some guy on the bench who you feel can play but just has not yet.

      • Justin

        I agree if they use out first
        Pick on a cb play him and sign Byrd I think our defense would be way better next season

  • toperspective

    I’m fine if the Chiefs focus on defense. If the improvement by the offense at the end of the season is real, the defense is the area that is grossly lacking. They were among the worst in football in the back half of the season so defense is ok with me. CB, Safety, DL are all needs. The two best teams in football – the Seahawks and the 49ers were defensive powerhouses. Jackson took a pay cut not because he was honorable but because he would have been cut overwise. His contract never came close to matching his production.

  • Andy

    i am not a big fan of going too much into FA this year. The main reason is that most of last years draft class was hurt of slow to come around. So lets see what we actually have. Another reason is that we are going to be playing a brutal schedule this coming year. We will be fortunate to get to 10 wins. I think that our SB push will be two years from now. Let tweak our roster with FA at that time..

    • Troy Utt

      Wait another season til 2015 ? That’s too Late! By then Gonzalez will have his AARP card… LOL

  • Calchiefsfan

    Is it just me or is anybody else concerned about the big gaping hole at left tackle next year if, (when), Albert leaves? Stephenson is okay but it’s still a serious down grade from Albert. Fisher, I personally believe, will improve a lot in his second year. But is he ready to play LT yet? If our O line doesn’t perform next year the Chiefs are screwed. Smith will be running for his life and Micah will go from fun to read to unbearably prophetic!

    • micah stephenson

      I think we will b cool at LT/RT with Fisher/Stephenson. All QBs are screwed with no oline. I will always b fun to read. ;-)

      • Calchiefsfan

        I hope you’re right. I have to say you’ve been fun so far.

    • Troy Utt

      I for one absolutely HATED Stephenson his rookie year! Due to his lack of upper body strength, I was ready to write him off… But the rook did his work in the weight-room & I was the first one to “eat crow” & admit that I had been to hasty in my analysis. Not only did he fill in for Albert, but he held down the RT while Fisher was down. I am in hopes the line winds up Fisher, Schwartz, Hudson, Asamoah, Stephenson… Of course that would require getting Asmoah & Schwartz resigned, & would leave Allen on the side-line, but if last year taught us anything it was that “depth was our enemy!”

  • TAZMOSIS

    In the latter part of 2013, the Chiefs did show that they can score with the offense that they were able to piece together. Defense is a priority for this team to get back to the playoffs. To get through the NFC West, this defense is going to play one hell of a lot better that they did after mid-season. As the team is currently comprised, they know they absolutely have to get better in the defensive backfield. By better, I mean tougher. If not, they are going to go to places like the Niners, Seahawks, Broncos and Chargers and come out O-fer. Dorsey, Reid and the entire staff are going to earn their pay.

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