It’s “Next Man Up” For The Chiefs- PART II

1 Feature From The Bleachers

This is PART II of It’s “Next Man Up” For The Chiefs

PART I may be found here

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Players We’re Not Going To Talk About

Bill Parcells, among others, have frequently said, “I’m not going to talk about injured players” and while that may be wise, it’s hard not to hope that 2013 draft picks Sanders Commings and Travis Kelce come through in a big way in 2014.

So, I call this my “Don’t Stop Believin’” next-man-up list.

I can’t stomach the idea that the Chiefs would bring back S Kendrick Lewis. Honestly, if that happens… I will have to re-think everything I think I know about Andy Reid and especially John Dorsey. Having said that, I can also reveal that there is probably not a bigger wish that I have for the roster in 2014 than for Sanders Commings to step in, step up big, and become “The Man” who pairs with Pro Bowler Eric Berry to shut down the middle of the field to teams who want to throw there.

1 Sanders CommingsSanders Commings 4.34 speed, ability to cover and hit could be the edge the Chiefs defense has needed to win some big games. But… it’s back to the reason Parcells gives for not having the conversation… it’s all a big if. So, bring back Husain Abdullah and bring Commings along slowly. Let’s not forget that Commings had 154 tackles and 8 INTs at Georgia while splitting time between CB and Safety and was recognized as one of their hardest hitters.

In his piece called, “Sanders Commings Could Be The Answer At Free Safety” Terez Paylor quotes Commings’ college coach,

“Georgia coach Mark Richt, who coached Commings for five years, is confident he can be a single-high safety — playing deep to prevent long passes — even though he spent most of his career at cornerback. Richt cited Commings’ baseball background at Georgia as proof. “Anybody who plays baseball understands how to play the ball,” Richt said. “He’s used those skills to help him as a football player as well. He has great hands and has great vision to chase down a ball in flight, just like a center fielder would.”

In any event, Commings should be the target for next man up at Free Safety.

1 Kelce catchI’m also hoping the same for Travis Kelce. Andy Reid’s west coast version requires TEs to show up and offer a big target over the middle also forcing safeties to collapse in order to set up the outside passing and running lanes. Arrowhead Pride once said Kelce compared favorably to Rob Gronkowski, Jeremy Shockey and Jason Witten.

If… Kelce comes through as planned and expected to, then Fasano becomes the next man sitting down. However, there’s good news along the Fasano front, the number of games he normally is a part of each season during his career totals 16. Here’s his games played in every year since 2006: 16,16,16, 14,15,15, 16, 9. Unfortunately the 9 was with the Chiefs. Both Kelce and Fasano have to be considered “ifs’ at this point… but a guy can hope.

There appears to be a fairly good probability that the Chiefs could go with a TE in the 1st or 3rd rounds of this draft. When you look at the number of TEs the Chiefs have had in the past five seasons and the number of injuries that have kept those TE’s M.I.A. (missing in action) then it makes sense for the Chiefs to make sure they have more than one dynamic player at the TE position next season. And it’s not just the Chiefs who have had their tight ends “kicked in the butt” by the injury plague. Injuries to tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Jermichael Finley, Dennis Pitta, Antonio Gates, Kyle Rudolph, Tom Crabtree, Vernon Davis and others make the value of good TE’s even more accentuated across the league.

The Chiefs “possibly” taking a TE high in the draft this season should be all the competition Travis Kelce needs to “win” during an offseason of rehab following micro-fracture surgery to his knee on October 12, 2013. That kind of surgery is serious but Kelce has skill to line up outside like a WR and get downfield so… hopes are high for his return.

If the Chiefs do take a TE in the draft, it may be a sign they are not satisfied with Travis Kelce’s healing process.

1 Richard Gordon TEIt’s quite evident that John Dorsey is willing to look high and low for a TE who can step up as the Chiefs re-signed three year pro tight end Richard Gordon on Friday. Gordon has also spent time with Pittsburgh and Oakland and just yesterday new AA editor Ben Nielsen pointed out that the Gordon signing could simply be a security blanket,

“Getting healthy will naturally help the tight end position, and having McGrath as the third-string tight end seems more workable after watching him play. Gordon seems to be an insurance policy until the Chiefs no longer need him.”

1 Schwartz 2The Chiefs cap will be tight enough that they may have to choose between two Guards: Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. Schwartz has made it clear this week that he’s not going to sign to provide “versatility” but only to be a “starter.” Most have interpreted Schwartz’ statement to refer to his possibly returning to the Chiefs. However, by the looks of this t-shirt (pictured to the right), posted the same day as his “starter” comment, one can only hope it doesn’t refer to signing with the Cleveland Browns and playing next to his brother Mitchell, who has been a stand out starter there for three years at RT.

Both Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah should be offered contracts by the Chiefs… if the Chiefs can get some contracts with other players, that are out of whack, favorably restructured. Schwartz appears more likely to return as there’s a chance some team will offer Asamoah more than they should, simply because he’s a very good starting Guard with several years of experience on an up and coming team. If Asamoah doesn’t return and Schwartz does, that makes Schwartz the next man up a lock. If that happens I wouldn’t be too upset. There’s only one time this season when I saw Schwartz get beat badly and he usually grades out well by ProFootballFocus.com. In November PFF said,

“The right tackle spot has been problematic and it remains something of a mystery just why Geoff Schwartz can’t crack the lineup (we’d take him at left guard over the disappointing Jeff Allen).”

Talking about Jeff Allen. Although he’s not a free agent, I’m hoping that during their offseason evaluations Reid and Dorsey come to the conclusion that giving a different player a shot is in order. Then find a way to re-sign Asamoah and the center of the Chiefs offensive line will be set for 2014.

 

Long Shots for the Next Man Up

OG Rishaw Johnson

Chiefs Guard Rishaw Johnson who will be 25 before next season begins, has been sitting on the bench most of this past season, and was moved from the practice squad to the 53 man roster on September 24th. He was an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks and was signed to the Chiefs practice squad on September 3rd, 2013 just two days after Seattle waived him. Rishaw Johnson goes 6-3 and 313 and ran a 5.06 40 at the combine. In January of 2012, during the East-West Shrine game week, Dane Bruglar of CBS Sports said of Rishaw Johnson,

“Offensive guard Rishaw Johnson (California, Pa.) has shown why some feel he could be a top-120 pick. He has good thickness throughout his body and moves very well for his 309-pound frame with large, 11-inch mitts. Johnson, who has been practicing at right guard, spent a little too much time on the ground and is a bit of a bull in a china shop, but he stays balanced off the snap and looks to finish. He has some off-field questions, but showcased the raw skills in practice to develop into a pro backup, at worst.”

 

Apparently Rishaw Johnson was dismissed from Mississippi for a third violation of team rules.  However, the Oxford Eagle indicates that,

“After playing in the team’s first five games last season, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound junior was suspended for the remainder of the season and did not participate in the team’s Cotton Bowl workouts…. Since then, Johnson, a Hammond, La., native, had worked his way back into the coaching staff’s good graces and was a starter against Jacksonville State (the) last weekend.”

Rishaw Johnson number 7584 Sean McGrath, 71 Jeff Allen, 76 Branden Albert, 75 Rishaw Johnson

Obviously, Seattle saw something in him and so has John Dorsey, enough to promote him up the roster essentially protecting him from being picked off of the Chiefs practice squad roster. College immaturity doesn’t always translate to the pros and it looks like Rishaw has kept his nose clean since then. Enough to be a next man up? As far as I’m concerned, enough to deserve a shot. Especially when you consider the continued lack of progress of OG Jeff Allen. Reid promoted Rishaw to the 53 man roster after only 21 days on the practice squad. Was that because of a great lack along the OL or was there a specific reason?

Since Reid was bold enough to give waiver claimed players like CB Cooper, ST Parker and TE Sean McGrath some big time minutes, Rishaw Johnson’s opportunity may be just around the corner. I’m in favor of it.

TE Demetrius Harris

Another long shot is 6-7 Demetrius Harris. He could be a regular at some point this year but as I understand it, he still has quite a ways to go so it will be awhile before he’s given a permanent roster spot.

1 Demetrius HarrisEvery fan I talk to about Harris is dying to know what he’s got. When seen in the preseason, Harris sparkled at times. A few too many missteps, running bad routes, or an inability to grasp enough of the playbook… or all of the above… contribute to the Chiefs decision to leave Harris dangling on the practice squad roster. However, I’d be pretty upset if this huge and agile ex-basketball player ended up being snatched up by another team and then succeeded elsewhere.

TonyG set a standard for TEs in this league many years ago. Then along came Antonio Gates of the Chargers. Ever since Tony left, I’ve wondered why the Chiefs can’t go out and find an ex-basketballer, even if he’s raw. We’ll that exactly describes Demetrius Harris and I say it’s time to give him his shot

If the Chiefs are thinking about going out and spending a draft choice on yet another TE in this coming draft… how about if they just “draft” their own practice squad guy instead.

What do you think Addict fans? Will the Chiefs replace more starters through “the next man up” or via free agency and the draft?

Topics: KC Chiefs

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  • Hawthorne

    Great article Laddie. If all goes well we shouldn’t have to draft a TE or a guard. I hope Commings starts and we resign Abduhllah, but I think we’ll need to draft another FS.

    • ladner morse

      Yep… if all goes well the Chiefs should be drafting a DT in the first round… although I know many are hoping for a WR. I think they’ve got to fix the D first.

      • Hawthorne

        Couldn’t agree more. If the super bowl showed us anything, it’s that high-dollar receivers are overrated. I’d love Aaron Donald or Stephon Tuitt in round 1. Reid and Smith have already proved they can get it done with what we’ve got and Jenkins and Hemingway are liable to get better. Also Dressler, while he may be a slight downgrade as a PR, should be a major upgrade in the slot.

        • berttheclock

          Actually, the wide outs of the Broncos are near the middle to lower part of the cap salaries in the league. Sidney Rice of the Seahawks, had he played, would have been the highest paid wide out in the SB and he is not going to be retained by the Seahawks. I believe the site is overthecap.com.

      • berttheclock

        Hmmm, a DE you say. In the 3rd round of the ’08 draft, the Chiefs selected Brad Cottam, TE at the 76th slot. The Lions at 92 took Cliff Avril. I wonder who ended up with the better deal?

        Plus, the Seahawks really made the best deal for Avril when they convinced him to sign for a 2 year $13 M contract with only a 2013 salary of $1.3 M. Peyton Manning still wishes that deal had never been made.

  • Tristian

    Good article AA. Draft picks are picks for a reason. So Cummings and Kelce have to get a shot because obviously they are oozing with talent. Interesting to note though the injuries to tight ends. Moeaki Fasano and now Kelce are all big body guys who cant stay on the field. This is yet another reason I wouldn’t draft one in the first round. Unless the chiefs are trying to give Alex Smith a Gronkowski/Hernandez combo then dont do it because that position 5 years in a row cant stay on the field for some reason. Essentially thats a waste of a pick when as of now u have no second rounder and we all know the team is in win now mode. I can’t stress it enough…whoever the first round pick is has to be an immediate impact player but that means staying on the field at least. As for Cummings with his measurables he has to be the starter. He is like berry except more versatile. He can play corner and safety. Thats huge for a defense that couldn’t defend the pass consistently. But again Sutton has to Utilize him properly. I hope Cummings and Kelce come in and be immediate impact players but this year would essentially be thier rookie seasons if they did so we will see

    • berttheclock

      ummm, Moeaki was taken at 93. Yes, he ended up injured, but, ask the Saints what they think of the fellow they took at 95 in the same draft, one, Jimmy Graham.

      Injuries happen to players from every round. Look at Seattle, where, in John Schneider’s 2nd year as a GM, he took offensive guards in both the 1st and 2nd rounds, only to see them both go on IR. In fact, the year before, his first round pick was Okung, who ended up missing much of the season due to a High Ankle Sprain.

      My main worry about Commings, is he was hurt twice. He had just recovered from his first shoulder injury and was cleared to play, when, he re-injured the same shoulder. If healthy, he could be a real force and his salary does not hurt the cap. Great point made about his playing center field in college as that translates into playing his position extremely well. Locating first, then, flying to the play.

      One last point about injuries and first round picks. Fisher did not have the greatest start in the NFL, suffering through learning a different position against some of the best pass rushers around, then, suffering nagging injuries of various sorts, but, he did survive the season and gained valuable experience. Contrast that with the 2nd pick in the same draft, where, the Jags took the star LT out of Texas A&M and he ended up lost for most of the season, except for playing against Houston of the Chiefs, who made him look rather inept.

      • berttheclock

        Oh, and add the Jets to teams interested in Schwartz.

      • ladner morse

        At issue is depth. Injuries come and go. In just the past few seasons the Chiefs have been on the good and horrible side of that ledger. If we learned anything from this past seasons it is that you can take the worst team in the league and make them a contender in one offseason. So….. the second season following that off season should provide another “jump up the rankings” but if the Chiefs can’t make the proper additions they’ll just be a team of… white men who can’t “jump.”

        • berttheclock

          I was checking the drafts for the years you cite supra. Only the draft of ’04, showed a better TE being picked below that of a Chiefs pick. We took Wilson, while, the Redskins, a round later, took Chris Cooley, who ended up being their all time pass catching TE. But, in checking the various years, I noticed very few TEs taken lower than the 3rd round ever making anything of note in the NFL. The cream of the crop for TEs do tend to rise to the top. And, I wish you would not disparage me as I never was the greatest rebounder down at Stanley Grade School in Argentine, but, you should have seen my turnaround jumper from the key which I developed much later.

          • ladner morse

            Alright… alright… I will admit, but not under oath, that a very few white men can jump… but let’s not get carried away. Besides… how was I supposed to know?

    • ladner morse

      The Chiefs have drafted 7 tight ends in a ten year period. Three of those were taken in the 7th round and can hardly be considered a serious attempt to draft a starting TE.

      Only 2 of those TE picks were taken as high as the 2nd round.

      2004
      2nd Round Kris Wilson TE
      2007
      7th Round Michael Allan TE
      2008
      3rd Round Brad Cottam TE
      7th Round Mike Merrick TE
      2009
      7th Round Jake O’Connell TE
      2010
      3rd Round Tony Moeaki TE
      2013
      2nd Round Travis Kelce

      • Chuck Burrell

        Wasn’t kelce a third rounder?

        • ladner morse

          Yes!

      • Chiefs Martyball

        would love to see ebron if he falls to the Chiefs the guy is a phenom and could be the next Vernon Davis like Alex had in San Fran a TE that could catch and block and WOW you to boot Doubt he falls though

  • CrispySBC

    In my crystal ball I see the right side of the line already set …. RG Schwartz RT Stephenson. On an interview (as posted here from radio 610) Geof said he had a great chemistry with Stephenson and they both trusted each other to do their jobs. If you watch the games after he became a starter, on the right side, with Stephenson they did an excellent job in both the run and pass games. I think the Chief’s move Fisher to LT (his “natural” position) and then let Asamoah and Allen fight it our for the LG position. This is dependent on them signing Asamoah to a reasonable contract. If Asamoah wants a big payday they let him walk … he’s just not worth a big paycheck.

    • ladner morse

      If Schwartz and Stephenson have that good a chemistry then why not put them on the left side and leave Asamoah in his natural position on the right then leave Fisher where he’s at on the right because he hasn’t proven he can handle the left side and unless he grows some big ole muscles and balls to go with it he could get our new QB killed the first play of the season.

      • Calchiefsfan

        It seemed like Stephenson played much better a RT than LT last year but that was just an observation. Maybe someone with a PFF account can check it out. If Schwartz and Stephenson played that well on the right side then keep them there, imho. Hudson at center and Fisher at LT where he should eventually end up. I’m with Crispy on that one. Less changing things around and more consistency from last year. The only positional change would be Fisher replacing Albert. I’m expecting Fisher to grow some muscles and big ole balls, lol.

  • Josh Landers

    I think the d is in better shape than you might think. It’ll be coop’s second year and he should show dramatic improvement with an offseason under his belt, I think bailey should be able to fill t-jax’s spot although we do need depth, ilb is an issue if we don’t sign Jordan but a future replacement for DJ would be nice, and fs is a big issue. I like commings but he’s had little playing time and really is an unknown. After fixing the fs issue I think the only concerning thing is bob suttons inability to make proper adjustments. I think year 2 will show that this team has less holes than we think. Or I could be way off. Lol. I do know one thing, though. If Kendrick Lewis is our starting fs next year, i will question everything I believe in. GO CHIEFS!!!

  • Calchiefsfan

    I don’t know where I’ve been on this but I didn’t realize that Commings ran a sub 4.4 forty. That gives me a little more hope for next year, and a former baseball player to boot. Let’s hope he and Kelce stay healthy. They could be a huge boost for this team without having to break the bank. I’d rather see us get some depth on the O line and CB in the draft. Of course, WR with the first pick if Commings is our guy at FS.

    • mnelson52

      I think the draft is deep in WRs. If there is a dominant pass rushing DE, at pick 23. I would grab him. That in itself would make our DBs look better. It may have made the difference in losing to Manning by 10 on the road and 7 at home. When Seattle got the rush, Manning could do nothing. We didn’t even touch Manning, and still played them close. I’m not overlooking the fact that we still need a WR or someone steps up big time this year. I think with a healthy Kelce, Fasano, and picking up Dressler, we would have a better offense than last year. If we could get one of our receivers to step up they would be even better. The first step is fixing the defense. JMO

      • mnelson52

        A lot depends on what we do in FA, but I think the cap will hurt to much to get a good WR or DE

        • Calchiefsfan

          FA is going to be tough for the Chiefs this year. I absolutely agree Nelson the D is the first order of business. DE would be good at 23 if someone like Truitt is available. I was reading a good article at AP about the problems with our secondary. It appears to me to be a coaching issue. Too many times the chiefs secondary was out of position, blown coverages, bad execution and generally a lot of confusion back there. The short comings of Lewis just added to it. Upgrade the FS spot and better coaching could give us a top 5 D. I’m just not sure if Sutton is up to the task. Time will tell but the thought of wasting another year while Dorsey and Reid decide that a new DC is in order is frustrating to say the least.

          • Calchiefsfan

            I mean Tuitt, can’t type. lol

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