Aug 9, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid talks to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Kansas City Chiefs: Why Free Agency And The Draft Aren’t The Answer


ArmchairAddict1

Unfortunately, Kansas City Chiefs fans still have MONTHS to go before their beloved team plays meaningful football again. When you love a team as much as most of us love the Chiefs, it’s hard to wait out the spring and summer months waiting for our favorite sport to return. However, just because there are no games to be played anytime soon doesn’t mean that diehard fans aren’t glued to their computers, anxiously awaiting any tidbit of news about the team to hit the internet. That’s what makes blogs like this flourish, the undying passion of fans like you.

There is a downside to the 24/7/365 fanaticism that fuels our collective football passion. We tend to over analyze every single move (or non move) that the team makes in the here and now.

“Is Vance Walker an upgrade over Tyson Jackson?”

“Is Joe Mays just a run stopper like Akeem Jordan or will he be able to drop into coverage?”

“Are the Chiefs planning to start Jeff Linkenbach at guard or was he just a depth signing?”

“Someone should take Emmanuel Sanders’ agent out behind the woodshed and…….”

“Why aren’t the Chiefs signing (insert every big name free agent available)? They must not care about getting better!”

It’s natural. I’ve done it myself a thousand times. We follow this team religiously and want them to win SOOOOOOO badly that we NEED to see the team take some kind of action to reassure us that they want to win just as much as we want them to. So with nothing else to talk about, we obsess over free agency. We obsess over the NFL Draft. We compare what the Chiefs have done with what other teams have done to see which team has improved their roster more. After the draft we’ll hunt down every draft grade handed out by so called “draft experts,” searching for the ones that praise what KC did and mocking those that don’t.

While these discussions and debates are interesting (sometimes) and help to pass the time, the truth is that when it comes to the success of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014 neither free agency nor the draft will have the biggest impact on the Chiefs winning more or less games than last season. While it may not trend on Twitter, grab newspaper headlines, or set the blogosphere abuzz, the truth is that the development of the players that are already on the roster will have the greatest impact on the success of the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs.

We’ve already heard and discussed that both GM John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid like to draft and develop their own players and that free agency will be more to supplement the roster than to build it. The thing is that we tend to focus on the “draft” part of the “draft and develop” plan and ignore the “developing.” Part of that is because the NFL draft is the football fan’s equivalent to taking a five-year-old to Toys R Us. There are all these cool new toys that you want. The fact is, in a month they’ll be back to playing with the same favorite toys that they played with before the shopping trip, and the new toys will be mixed into the toy box with all the others. The trip to Toys R Us is fun and exciting, but rarely does it cause a long-term shift in the child’s toy hierarchy.

If you wanted to extend this metaphor to include free agency, it would be like an over-priced garage sale. You can get some good stuff there, but it’s either something someone else didn’t want anymore or were looking to sell because they needed the money more than the item (or in this case, player).

The bottom line is this:

We can obsess over the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick all we want, but regardless of who they take and if they’re the rookie of the year or a total bust, they still probably won’t impact the 2014 Chiefs team as much as the continued development of Alex Smith will. If Smith regresses, the Chiefs will too. If Smith’s final numbers are about the exact same as last season, then the best case scenario is probably another wild-card berth and early playoff exit. If Smith takes a step forward in his second year in Reid’s West Coast offense, then it will go a long ways toward helping the Chiefs take a step forward as a team too.

Is there reason to believe that could happen? I think so.

Smith finished the season with what were essentially career numbers for him, but they still paled in comparison to the NFL’s elite.

He finished with 3,313 yards passing, 220.9 yards/game, 60.6 percent completion percentage, 6.5 YPA, 23 TDs, 7 INTs

Those numbers are respectable, but they aren’t the kind of numbers that can carry a team. To win with numbers like that, a team would need both an elite run game and an elite defense. Jamaal Charles is certainly an elite running back and the Chiefs defense started the season looking elite but struggled mightily down the stretch. If KC wants to be a Super Bowl contender without drastically overhauling the rest of the team, they need Alex Smith to up his game in 2014. An argument can be made (and I’m about to) that Smith actually began upping his game in the second half of the 2013 season. If you look at the seven games he played after the bye week (six regular season games and the playoff game) Smith had the following numbers:

1,772 yards, 253.1 YPG, 62.8 percent completion percentage, 7.4 YPA, 18 TDs, 3 INTs

If you averaged those numbers out over a 16-game season you would get a line that looks like:

4,050 yards, 253.1 YPG, 62,8 percent completion percentage, 7.4 YPA, 41 TDs, 7 INTs

Those are numbers that I think most fans would be ecstatic about. Those are numbers that would make the Chiefs a force to be reckoned with next year. It’s not like we’re talking about a tiny sample size either. Seven games is almost half of a NFL season. If Smith can simply play like he did in the second half of his first season under Andy Reid, he’ll be well on his way to putting up numbers that would make him a top 10 NFL QB. The fact that Smith will be more comfortable and more experienced in Reid’s system should help the entire offense. Instead of learning the system himself, he’ll be able to act more as a coach on the field like other great QBs do. With another entire offseason under his belt, a step forward is not only reasonable, but probable. That progression is infinitely more valuable to the Chiefs’ success than signing Emmanuel Sanders or if they draft a WR or a safety in the first round. Would an improved WR core and stabilized offensive line help this happen? Of course, but it’s all moot without the continued development of Alex Smith in Reid’s offense.

Speaking of the offensive line……

While most of the Chiefs Kingdom is worried about who will start at RG next season, the development of the other four linemen is actually far more important. KC is set to start four young linemen in 2014. Donald Stephenson is 25 years old with 14 career starts. Jeff Allen is 24 years old with 27 career starts. Rodney Hudson is 24 years old with 19 career starts. Eric Fisher is 23 years old with 13 career starts. That means that those four starting linemen have less than five seasons of starting experience combined. If those four players all continue to develop and improve, KC’s line will be solid even if they don’t have a great player at RG. If the four young offensive linemen all fail to improve then even with an All Pro at RG the offensive line will be a problem.

While the youthful inexperience of the offensive line is a concern, it’s also a legit reason to believe that they will get better. Offensive linemen often need a few seasons to build the necessary strength and technique to take on veteran defensive linemen. While Eric Fisher in particular was a disappointment last season, he doesn’t strike me as the kind to pack it in. I have no proof that Fisher will be greatly improved, but I can say that I 100-percent believe that Fisher will work as hard as possible to get stronger and work on his technique to try and make it happen. Stephenson has flashed some potential in his limited playing time as well and Rodney Hudson is a promising center with only just a little over one season of actual playing time.

The only way to develop your own players is to eventually let them play. I’m not saying that the Chiefs should just hand over starting spots to players like Sanders Commings or Rishaw Johnson just because you want to develop them, but you at least give those players a chance to come in and try to compete for those spots. Let’s say that based on what they’ve seen in practice and in the week 17 game against San Diego that KC thinks Johnson can be their starting RG this season, then it wouldn’t make sense to sign a high-dollar free agent at that same position. You bring in a couple veteran options to compete (like Jeff Linkenbach) and give the young player a chance to earn it. Same for the starting safety spot. Maybe KC drafts a safety in the mid rounds and then lets that player compete with Commings and Husain Abdullah for the starting spot, with the best man winning.

Commings and fellow second-year player, tight end Travis Kelce are two wild cards that could become starters, or at least key contributors, that KC didn’t have last season without spending a dime if they can both successfully return from injuries.

We could have another discussion about the development of players like Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker that showed flashes last season. We could discuss the continued development of Dontari Poe who was flat-out dominant at the start of the season but slowly disappeared as the year went on.

The point is, if Kansas City is a “draft and develop” franchise, we as fans have to be able to have the faith and patience to let that process play out. It’s not a process that includes throwing huge contracts at free agents. It’s not a process that relies on a rookie class coming in and having five impact starters right out of the gate. It’s a process that puts the emphasis on the coaches teaching and developing the players that are here. The Chiefs Kingdom was impressed with the job this coaching staff did when they turned around a 2-14 Chiefs team that was a complete disaster and made them into an 11-5 playoff team in their first season here. If they were able to do that in one offseason, shouldn’t we at least give them a chance to show that they can continue to develop the players that are here before we begin to question their approach?

After all, last season wasn’t as much about developing players as it was teaching them all the system and the expectations. Now that those are in place, the development can begin. Can anyone promise you that all these players will develop like we’d like them to? Of course not, but after what this administration did in year one, I’m at least optimistic that it’s possible.

So I’ll continue to watch for any other free agent signings. I’ll be excited to see who KC is able to add in the draft next month. I’ll even search out those draft and offseason “grade cards” to see what the mainstream media think of what the Chiefs did, but I’ll also keep in mind that the real question is if the current Chiefs roster will continue to develop and improve.

It may not be flashy.

It may not grab headlines.

It may not generate a whole lot of web hits.

But I absolutely believe that it’s the number one key to the success of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Tristian

    Agree with the article but the problem is no team especially like kc or Cleveland or teams that haven’t had much postseason success wants to hear the roster has to develop. You know why people obsess? Because we care about THIS YEAR. Not next year not 5 years down the line and when you see a team that is able to free up cap space by restructuring and extensions and they don’t added to losing free agents incredibly quickly it will make you frustrated as a fan because this team made the playoffs. I doubt the uproar would’ve been the same had we went 5-11. Personally I agree with the decisions of the front office. Dont overpay for mediocrity. Thats what Dallas does. To win consistently in this league you need impact players and the truth is all thr free agents we let go weren’t week after week true impact players. Good week then disappearing week. Dorsey and Reids job is to look long term and they are making decisions that will pay off down the line. As a fan though the hardest thing is staying patient. But ask yourself this as a fan: Jackson McCluster The spot next to Johnson on D and at Free Safety…..can you honestly say we got worse at any of those positions? Id say no and each person there now has upside. Our left tackle spot worries me more than anything but truthfully I think fisher turns into a franchise left tackle in my opinion. Reid doesn’t miss on first round olinemen. Im not worried as much because I understand what Dorsey and Reid are trying to do. Build a young athletic team with experience at the most important position in QB and then RB and in the front 7. I think that playoff drought ends sooner rather than later chiefs fans

    • Lyle Graversen

      I agree with what you’re saying, I just think that development is one of the main keys to winning THIS YEAR, not just down the road. I think Smith can take a noticeable step forward and am hopeful that the young OL can as well. If that happens, then KC can absolutely compete next season.

  • Mike Ross

    Problem is that once they are fully developed, and finish out their rookie contract,and expect to be paid accordingly, the Chiefs decide to go cheaper and and the development starts all over. It seems as if the Chiefs are always building for a future that NEVER comes to fruition.

    • berttheclock

      I don’t believe it comes down to just going cheaper as it is based on the CBA agreement which limited rookie salaries, so many teams are following this new philosophy of going both younger and cheaper. As a result of the agreement, the only time many players will see somewhat of a big payday is on their first contract once their rookie contract expires. Then,for most of them, they will only see the early guaranteed part as only a very few will ever receive the full amount of that splashy headline making agreement. Look across the league at the large number of free agents and you will find a common thread as to why they have been released. It comes down to teams wanting to cut off the large sums due in March. I love the groans made by fans who yell if any player does not live up to his contract. Oh, they have an obligation, the fans cry. However, they never say a word about a team awarding, say, a five year mega buck deal and, then, cutting ties with the player after 2 to 3 of those years. This is the direction of the entire league. Get younger and cheaper and try to catch lightning in a bottle with a minimum of super paid players.

    • Josh Landers

      That’s the old regime. That didn’t happen in Philly or in Green Bay. Best not to worry about the past.

      • Stan Colbert

        I would say Schwartz & DMC should have Reid on their gift list! He made them some money this year!

    • berttheclock

      I suggest you peruse the 2013 Seahawks roster. You will find many Rs and a majority of 2 to 3 year players. There are a few with 8 or 9 years on their roster, but, Seattle is a young team which has kept their cap in line. Now, as several of their stars age, who knows how Schneider will be able to keep them together. I would suspect he will do his usual churn of players in order to keep youth and less money on his side. From the first day he and Pete Carroll took over that team four years ago, there are only 3 players from that first year roster left.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Mike, thanks for the comment, the only thing I’d say is that just because Reid/Dorsey let players drafted by the previous regime walk doesn’t mean that they won’t re-sign the guys that they like. They re-signed Bowe and the rumor is that they’re already working on Houston. They’ll be selective, but they’ll keep the guys they think are worth the money. I don’t see the Chiefs being a farm team for other NFL teams.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Great work, Graversen!

    “Draft and develop” is this administration’s core philosophy. I’m willing to be patient and watch the plan unfold. I think free agency’s a great way to add young, ascending talent though. That’s every bit as important as identifying players in the draft. If you rely on either too heavily and miss on your evaluations, you’ll get yourself in trouble. The real key is this regime’s ability to identify talent. If you do that well, you’ll find gems both in March and in May. Dorsey’s already shown us he has a keen eye. Hopefully that can continue as inherited players age and move on. This team has a strong core, but it mostly came from past GM’s. Dorsey will have to prove he can backfill and keep the overall talent level high in Kansas City. Time will tell.

    • berttheclock

      Well, his team is no longer at the dance, Stacy, but, did you catch the NaeNae of the guard from Mercer? If so, how did you rate him?

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I did. I give him a solid 7. Not great, but passable.

    • berttheclock

      I would add, hopefully, in February, as well. I mean by that adding future reserves such as McKnight and Dressler to the mix, as well as some others Dorsey signed.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Good point. I keep forgetting about McKnight. He and Davis figure to get the ST reps McCluster and Demps got last year.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Thanks Stacy, I agree that Dorsey’s ability to find key contributors at a discount price is one of the things that I like best so far. Adding guys like Cooper, McGrath, Parker, Schwartz, DeVito, and Jordan last year proved essential to KC’s success last season. I’m hopeful that we’ll be saying the same thing about guys like Walker, Mays, Owens, and Dressler at the end of next season.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Dressler’s been my whipping boy all offseason. I hope he makes a fool out of me.

        • Lyle Graversen

          Wilcard, he could end up being a solid slot guy and returner or he could not make the roster at all. I won’t be surprised either way and we aren’t really out anything for giving him a shot.

          • KCMikeG

            I think we will be lucky to see him succeed as a WR. He hasn’t returned kicks for years in the CFL so I doubt they are counting on him for that. McNight is the obvious one who will compete for returns with Davis. IMO we will draft Beckham with our first pick to replace DMC and increase our speed at the position.

  • Erik Hild

    I think Smith’s stat line is fine. If he performs around the same as he did last year we will be fine. Look at Russel Wilson’s 2013 stats. 3,357 yards 26TDs and 9INTs. That is pretty darn close to Alex Smith’s numbers. The chiefs can be a playoff contender with some upgrades at WR and in the secondary. I think the Chiefs go 10-6 next year and get a wild card spot. But this time we win. GO CHIEFS!!!!

    • berttheclock

      Great point. So many have griped about Smith not throwing for more yardage. Well, the Chiefs threw for 3,561 yards, whereas the Seahawks only threw for 3,508. The Chiefs ran for 2,056 yards and the Seahawks ran for 2,188. So, it was not about throwing or running as much as it was about having a solid defense step up or not step up in the playoffs.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Look, Seattle’s defense was all time great last season. I don’t think we can rely on KC’s D being THAT good. Therefore, we’re going to need Smith to take a step forward (or just perform at the level he was late in the season for the entire year) if KC wants to improve. Plus, if you look at Reid’s offenses they are built around the passing game. Wilson is a great QB, but their whole attack is based on controlling the clock with their D and run game and it’s almost like Wilson’s playmaking is just icing on the cake. That will never be an Andy Reid coached team. Reid puts the ball in the QBs hands for better or worse, the offense runs through them. When that’s your approach the QB has to produce. I believe Smith will do it, but if he doesn’t I think Reid will start looking for a new QB that can.

      • Butch Davis

        I think this is where you’re right but its also where that fine line between making moves and not making moves gets tested. Its true we need Alex to take that next step to push this team to not only winning some big in division games but also potentially win during the post season. However one could argue that this is exactly the reason to find one name that has known production and can add value but just maybe had a bad year or was a cap casualty or maybe just had some injuries a la a Hakeem Nicks or a Garrett Graham (who resigned I think).

        I digress though I think Alex can make that happen with the current roster but I just want to see this team take that next step so bad (that coupled with the burning sensation still left from that Sanders situation) that I want to see some veterans that have done some things as opposed to waiting and guessing and hoping

  • tm1946

    If “development” is the answer, then there is no reason to keep discussing the Chiefs until the preseason is over. Isn’t that what fans do, talk crazy, argue over trivia? Who do we draft – as if our opinions are of value to Reid. Cut or not cut, sign or not sign and all the foolishness that entails.
    But guess there is no reason to comment until season starts….. just wait and see how development gets the job done. (not saying your are wrong, but isn’t it why we are here)

    • Lyle Graversen

      No one is saying we can’t discuss free agency and the draft. I’m really intrigued by Vance Walker. I’ve done multiple mock drafts on some of the simulators to see who might be available for KC. Of course those things are fun to debate and discuss, my point was that we tend to act like those are the only things that effect the team getting better or worse for next season and ignore the development of the current players when it’s actually probably the most important aspect. I just think it needs to be added to the discussion.

  • berttheclock

    Off topic, but, in reviewing recent moves in free agency, I noticed one which I had missed. Remember when Tony G was traded to the Falcons? The Chiefs received a 2nd round pick for him which they used to select Javier Arenas. Of course, Arenas was traded to the Cardinals for the very tough full back, Sherman. Well, Pioli inked Arenas on 3/19 to play for the Atlanta sparrow chiefs.

  • Josh Landers

    Great article! And it’s not the draft doesn’t matter. If we picked up a Keenan Allen type this year I think that could make an impact immediately. But you’re right. And I think the second year in the system will have a great impact, also. GO CHIEFS!!!

    • Lyle Graversen

      Look, I’m not saying the draft isn’t important, it’s 50% of the “draft and develop” plan. I’d love it if we found a guy or two that could be a key contributor as a rookie. I just think people put too much stock in the draft in terms of it’s impact on our record next year. It’s part of the equation, but not proportionate to what we make it out to be.

      • Josh Landers

        I’m not disagreeing with you. Just adding on.

        • Lyle Graversen

          Right on.

  • Travis Crouch

    The thing on Alex smith if you look at he nfl career he only had the same coach and offense cordinator once in he’s whole career and when he did he had the best pass percent in the bro until he got the concussion and kap came in stole the show I still think Alex is the better qb then him and as a 49er fan I wish the traded kap and not him becouse kap might be a better rusher but I would rather have a better qb playing qb just think when he got took out of the game then game before that Arizona he was 18/for 19 with 250 something yards and would have had the record for best game if he threw one more pass every hates that’s he doesn’t throw bombs but Joe Montana never had a strong arm look where he ended up I think Alex with have is best year this year and I hope he does because I have became a chiefs fan as much as a 49er fan just becouse of what he has been threw

    • berttheclock

      So many have forgotten that Montana did not have a rocket arm. One of the regular posters, here, kept berating YAC by receivers for the Chiefs. I suppose he never reviewed the great production of yards after the catch by Rice.

      • Travis Crouch

        Not many realize he was not drafted tell the 3rd rd ether becouse of the arm and was not going to be that great but the right team with the right coach can change everything coaches don’t get enough respect

        • berttheclock

          Well, Sir, Steve Fuller went to the Chiefs in the 2nd round, so there! That was due to the KC scout who went to the Carolinas to scout a TE and came back raving about Fuller. BTW, that TE? Yeah, he was the one Montana threw a winning pass to in the SB. Double miss.

        • Daniel Mayfield

          Are you ppl talking trash about Montana? Maybe not trash but not looking up to him? What’s going through your mind? Who was the QB when KC last won playoff game?
          Maybe not a “rocket arm” and gotta give it to the WRs too. But Montana put the ball where it needed to be when it was needed. Imagine Montana now, in his younger yrs, with Bowe, Avery, and JC.
          He was my hero while I was a kid and he brought me to the Chiefs. I learned how he brought his college team back to win a game while he was out 1/2 through it with the flu. Big deal most of you will say. Along with many other plays and come back wins that he did, with Rice.
          He was a smart guy in the game and could, and did, get the games done the best he could. Montana and Rice were a great team. Smith and Rice weren’t. My dad likes to pick on me and say, “Montana has a big nose and could sniff out the right plays and where to put the ball”.
          Montana was great should be getting a lot of respect. IMO anyway.

          • berttheclock

            How is saying, truthfully, that he did not have a rocket arm trashing him? Montana was one of the finest QBs I have ever seen play and the first time I saw him play live was against USC in the Coliseum when, he brought Notre Dame back to win the game. I have witnessed far stronger arms than he possessed end up in the scrap heap of the NFL. He was a winner in college and he was a great winner in the pros. He reminded me of the great point guards in basketball I have viewed who you wanted to have the ball for that last shot. He was the QB I would want to take that last drive to win a game.

          • KCMikeG

            The arm strength is way overblown in what really matters about being a winning QB. I had to laugh when I saw someone say we need an “elite” QB like Lenny Dawson if we are ever going to win a Super Bowl again! I grew up with Lenny and love him to this day but he certainly wasn’t elite by today’s standards. He was drafted in the fist round yet sat on the bench for two teams over the first five years of his career. In today’s NFL he would have been labeled a bust and sent packing. He didn’t even play the whole season the year we won it all. Thank God for Hank Stram. Lenny didn’t have a big arm but was “pinpoint” accurate and was mobile in Stram’s moving pocket. Stram knew what Lenny’s strengths were and used he to his fullest potential – sound familiar? Smith is the perfect QB for what Reid wants to do with his offense and things will only get better next year.

          • Daniel Mayfield

            My bad Bert. I miss read that, along with not reading all of it. I apologize for screwing that up.

    • Tristian

      Same reason im here Travis. I love how he just shuts his mouth and plays football no matter what happens. Hes a gamer and the best postseason QB in the league (check the stats). I just hope we have enough D to get there. Alex will do his job on offense

      • KCMikeG

        That kind of behavior earns respect in the locker room and on the field. He is a class act and a rising star. That’s why Reid wanted him all along.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Thanks Travis, I’ll admit I was against the trade for Smith when it happened but he has sense won me over. I really believe he’ll be a top ten QB next season and prove all his doubters wrong.

      • micah stephenson

        Lol. Top ten QB! Lmao!

        • Daniel Mayfield

          If they have the right OL, I think they can put him in the top 10. He’s got the right skills for it.

        • Lyle Graversen

          Not that I’ll ever change your mind about Smith Micah, but as I pointed out if Smith played like he did in the final 7 games for an entire season it would be 4,000 yards with 40 TDs and less than 10 INTs. Wouldn’t you consider that a top ten QB?

  • Stan Colbert

    The one area fans know least about is the roster! Getting coaches and GM’s to comment there is not likely. Those are some interesting numbers on AS11, and since Ried not likely to run the ball he better develop. One number I have seen on Alex that I think is significant is when an opponent scores less than 23 points, he is nearly unbeatable! The problem with development of players is you don’t know about it until it has happened! If you can somehow inform about this process I guarrantee one reader every article!

    • Daniel Mayfield

      Reid DIDN’T like to run the ball, until he met with Jamaal Charles. Running and short passes to him, he’ll get plenty of plays that we know he can make. He just needs to stay healthy and in the game.

      • Stan Colbert

        Andy has had good backs in the past. I know he considers the short passing game an extension of the run. I know not running JC into the lines might increase his longevity. If the opponent knows you aren’t going to run the ball you become easier to defend.

      • berttheclock

        Andy Reid came out of the West Coast system employed by Lavelle Edwards at BYU. Short passing was an extension of the running game. When, you had such as Jim McMahon and Marc Wilson throwing, you really didn’t need that much of a running game. In their bowl win over Wisconsin, they passed for over 340 yards and only ran for 93.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Development is just as big of ? as how college players will perform in the pros. We can speculate and make educated guesses, but unfortunately that’s about it. I believe in Smith and think that at least a couple of the OL should make positive strides.

      • Stan Colbert

        This is true. We usually get all kinds of opinions about first round quality talent in draft, though, lower level talent usually(Sam) gets significantly less ink.
        We know about our starters, but, our depth doesn’t get exposure. We have talemt, no doubt! There is help coming I am sure. This year might be rough because of schedule and lack of experience, although should be acceptable.

  • freshmeat62

    Good column! Kind of a “everybody step back and take a deep breath” column. I have every faith in the world that D/R are doing the best job possible w/ what they have to work with. I know everyone wants to win now, but if being a Chiefs or Royals fan has taught us anything, its patience. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they win less than 11 this yea, but I’m willing to give them a year or two to build a solid team. But not much more than that as I don’t have a whole lot of “year or twos” left.

    • Lyle Graversen

      I think its fair to expect them to compete for a wild card spot again this season and then be ready to take over the division when Manning retires.

  • Daniel Mayfield

    Thank you Lyle!!! That’s what I’ve been trying to put through some hard headed fans (maybe maybe they need to take the helmets off lol). Maybe this column, if they read it full, will open their eyes.
    Nothing is impossible in this world! They can develop those OL players that have had some experiences. They know what they can do and they need to work on more. Like what Lyle said about Fisher, strength and technics.
    Quit giving up on the team already when the draft hasn’t even started. Real fans don’t/shouldn’t do that.

    HAVE FAITH!!!

    • Lyle Graversen

      Thanks Daniel, here’s to hoping we’re right!

      • Daniel Mayfield

        Well Lyle, rather we are right or not…from the way it looks, it’s the plan that Dorsey and Reid are going with. Rather it works or not, I’m still not letting down on my team!!! I don’t get my hopes up in the clouds! I learned if you get your hopes up that high, you can get shot in the foot….then you’re gonna be sitting for a while.
        It looked like they wanted Sanders but he probably wanted to much. They get what/who they can afford. If they can only get somebody on the younger side that has potentials and you can, pretty much, trust to build him up…go for him!

        Just gotta follow what Dorsey and Reid are doing, who they are picking up and wait………..I’m like everybody else, I hate waiting and getting info like this but what else can a fan do?

        • Lyle Graversen

          I’ve been called a “homer” on more than one occasion, but I prefer to think of myself as a logical optimist. Positive, but not out of touch with reality.

          • Daniel Mayfield

            Reality with this is….wait, bite your nails, and keep wondering what’s gonna happen next.

            But I won’t mention all the things I’ve been called before. lol Though that was mostly before I got married. Now, it’s mostly coming out of my wifes mouth. lol

  • berttheclock

    One thing hard to glean any meaning from is the attendance or non-attendance of Dorsey and his merry men at various Pro Days. Alex Smith met with Dilfer and Trent Green at the PD of Fresno State. Does this mean, the Chiefs are looking at picking up Derek Carr or his very fast wide out? The Chiefs did not attend Stanford’s Pro Day, where Ed Reynolds had a fine workout. So, the Chiefs are going to pass on him? Last year, Dorsey took his staff to NikeVille in Eugene to watch the Nike Pro Day. The Chiefs did not take a Nike player even though they could have taken a top LB. Like trying to read tea leaves.

    • berttheclock

      Reports are out that the Raiders are very interested in Carr.

    • Lyle Graversen

      I think it’s hard to put any stock in any reports you hear this time of year about teams and draft picks. Teams are so determined not to let other teams know who they want that sometimes I think that a media report that a team might like a guy is actually more likely to mean they have no interest at all and are trying to throw other teams off. Hard to say.

  • Brent G

    Lyle, great post man! In a general sense, I agree with you. I think the only area where I may deviate from your central premise is that I think if we want to compete for a title with the current core group of players (Bowe, Charles, Smith, Hali, Johnson, etc.), we need to be a bit more active in free agency and absolutely nail at least 3 immediate starters who represent upgrades thru the draft. I believe the order of priority should be secondary, d-line (specifically a pass-rusher), o-line, and lastly, wr.

    The key to winning in any sport is (and always has been) the ability to stockpile a large enough and young enough core group that can grow up together and compete for multiple titles. Examples include the Browns, Packers, and Chiefs in the 60s, the Steelers, Dolphins, Vikings, and Raiders in the 70s, the 49ers and Redskins in the 80s, the Bills and Cowboys in the 90s, etc.

    If we’re willing to take a short-term hit, I’d even advocate trading some of our current older core players for multiple picks in this year’s draft. I think the front office folks are exceptionally good at identifying talent and would really position the team for long-term success if they were do go that route. In particular, it gives us a shot to stock the cupboard with young talent AND it puts us in much better shape vis-a-vis the cap, thus allowing us the flexibility to make those key free agent moves from year to year that can extend the window and keep us competitive even longer.

    From a longer term perspective, I think you have accurately depicted the Chiefs approach and like you, I’m on board with being patient enough to see it through.

    • Lyle Graversen

      I’d be fine if they brought in one more key player in free agency, I’m certainly not opposed to it. My entire belief is that FA should be about supplementing the roster not building it. As far as the draft goes, if we can land a few different key players, fantastic, but I think relying on that to happen every year sets you up for failure. Even the best GMs miss sometimes and some players take a couple years to come around. The bulk of the team has to be built on the guys you already have in house.

  • Ben Nielsen

    This. All day long, this: “While most of the Chiefs Kingdom is worried about who will start at RG next season, the development of the other four linemen is actually far more important. KC is set to start four young linemen in 2014.”

    Great stuff, Lyle.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Thanks Ben, the OL is one of the areas I’ll be keeping the closest eye on in camp and the preseason games. I’m also pretty confident that we’ll either see another signing or an early to mid round draft pick on the OL as well.

  • Flyboy26

    Great article, Lyle.
    I pretty much agree with everything you wrote, and strongly believe that our current roster’s growth, along with the coming draft, will make all of us proud, once again. Keep up your wise and insightful articles.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Thanks Flyboy, much appreciated!

  • KCMikeG

    Great post Lyle! Thanks for taking the blinders off for us all. In the uproar that was heard around the world when Schwartz & Asamoah walked nobody really considered why those decisions were made from the perspective of who we already have on this team. In addition to Johnson we have Watkins, Kush, Kelly, Burden, Henry – who knows what success may be waiting to be developed. Hopefully R&D know. Plus there is actually pretty good talent in the later rounds at guard in this very deep draft.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Yup, I’ll be watching the OL situation like a hawk in camp. I’m really curious to see how things shape up.

    • berttheclock

      One of the interesting things about the development of offensive linemen in the NFL is who really knows how long it may take for a rookie to develop, plus, sometimes, it doesn’t matter so much where one was drafted or even undrafted. Case in point is Austin Howard, the right tackle. He was an UDFA from the University of Northern Iowa in 2010, who walked on to play for Reid. BTW, he played TE in college and, no, he was not the guy who hit the 3 pointers against KU, although he had played basketball, as well. Played 4 games, but, Philly cut him the next year, where his time was spent in just trying to play for anyone. One other team picked him up, but, cut him. However, he was picked up by the Jets and Ryan had him start in 2012 and 2013. His skills, especially, in run blocking improved to the point I thought he would be an excellent fit for the Chiefs. But, there was no way they were going to pay him what McKenzie of the Raiders, stupidly, forked out. $30 M contract with $15 M guaranteed. However, it does show how a player can go from being an UDFA, still trying to learn the skills, and 4 years later can be overpaid in mega bucks. So, when, Dorsey apparently picks up some lineman from the scrap heap, who knows how that player will turn out.

  • Hawthorne

    Great points Lyle. Especially with Reid’s system being as complicated as it is, we shouldn’t expect a WR to come in and contribute right away. This is not to say that we shouldn’t draft one, but that on offense we should expect the biggest change in impact from players we acquired the prior year.

  • Tom

    Pretty Absurd conclusion. Alex Smith’s Development is directly related to giving him some receivers and whether Fisher recovers from simply an awful rookie year. Granted the other 1st round tackles selected didn’t have any impact last year either but we are talking the #1 pick in the Draft. Alex will do fine if the supporting cast does their job but the 2 ton elephant in the room is still the lack of a #1 Receiver on the Roster or even in Development.

    • Lyle Graversen

      But if what you’re saying is true then Smith shouldn’t have progressed as the year went on last year since the line play and WR play didn’t get any better throughout the year, but that’s not the case. Smith did get better. Knowing an offense inside and out helps. A coach/playcaller and his quarterback getting to know each other better makes a difference. OF COURSE improving the supporting cast helps, I’m not saying it doesn’t, but to imply that Alex Smith can’t improve his individual play and that the supporting cast is the only way for him to be any better simply isn’t true.