Three Things I Think I Think About The 2014 Chiefs


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We’re exactly one month away from the NFL Draft, the first wave of free agency is over, and the Chiefs will soon be back to work when offseason workouts begin on April 21. Now is as good a time as any to reflect upon what we may know about the 2014 Chiefs. Okay maybe it’s just the first dead spot in the NFL’s offseason? Don’t be so judgmental. There’s not much new information to go around and pickings are slim in the blogosphere this time of the year (thanks for moving the draft to May, Mr. Commissioner). It’s much too early to come to any concrete conclusions about this group, but a few things stick out in my mind.

1. The offensive line will take a step back before it takes a step forward.

O-Line

With the departure of Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Asamoah, the Chiefs’ offensive line situation is a work in progress. The team acquired former Indianapolis Colt Jeff Linkenbach last month, but it’s uncertain whether or not he’ll be Kansas City’s new starter at right guard. Linkenbach received a -7.5 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2013. That number is significantly lower than both his predecessors Jon Asamoah (+7.9) and Geoff Schwartz (18.6). The acquisition of the former Cincinnati Bearcat could say very little about head coach Andy Reid’s future plans at that spot. For now, it appears that Linkenbach was just a depth signing.

Continuity could be another issue this young offensive line will face next season. Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson are swapping spots in 2014. Kansas City’s No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft will take his rightful place at left tackle while Stephenson looks to be the taking over for Fisher on the right side. It’ll take time for the both of them to adjust to new roles. There’s a good chance their learning curve will be an obstacle for that bunch to start the season. Having three offensive line players at a new position may be one of the biggest challenges this team will face in 2014.

2. John Dorsey and Andy Reid are apparently high on A.J. Jenkins.

AJ Jenkins

In March, Kansas City courted both Emmanuel Sanders and DeSean Jackson, presumably to compete with Donnie Avery at the No. 2 wide receiver spot. Sanders eventually signed with the Denver Broncos and Jackson landed in the nation’s capital with the Redskins. The Chiefs entertained free agents Joe Morgan and Kenny Britt as well, but Morgan re-signed with the Saints and Britt inked a deal with the Rams. It would seem that the team doesn’t see Avery as the answer. He has the right skillset for the job, but his drops and disappearing acts in 2013 were disconcerting. It doesn’t help that Dexter McCluster was among several Chiefs’ losses in free agency.

The free agent well at wide receiver is mostly dry at this point. Former Eagles wideout Jason Avant is off the market as well now . It had long been rumored that the team might have interest in signing him after May’s draft, but he signed with the Carolina Panthers on Monday. Fortunately for Kansas City, the forthcoming draft has one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory. There’s no word yet on how high the Chiefs will take a receiver, if at all, but help will be available.

The Chiefs offseason efforts have been primarily focused on improving the receiving corps. It appears the team will now look toward the draft to find the help they need. There’s some thought that they won’t use their top pick to obtain that help. Hitting on a receiver in the middle rounds can be tricky. Might this be an indication of how Andy Reid and John Dorsey feel about A.J. Jenkins? Louis Riddick with ESPN recently reported the team is “very excited about” Jenkins’ second season with the Chiefs. The front office has high expectations for him in 2014 and that could be the reason why they didn’t make a splash in free agency to upgrade the position group.

3. The team has the talent at free safety to play Bob Sutton’s preferred coverage schemes.

Sutton

Kendrick Lewis is now the property of the Houston Texans. Bob Sutton’s been relieved of his headache at the free safety position. Lewis was routinely out of position on this defense last year and once he was, his lack of recovery speed made matters worse. Past shoulder injuries and improper technique also made Lewis a poor tackler. Those two negative traits are mortal enemies of a Cover 1 scheme. This is why Sutton’s schemes got softer as the season wore on. Unless you were in hiding over the back half of the season, you know how much the secondary struggled after the bye week.

Barring the selection of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor, in the first round of the draft, Husain Abdullah and Sanders Commings appear to be the frontrunners to replace Lewis in 2014. Both of them are athletically superior and better suited to be the single-high safety on this defense. The tandem gives Sutton more defensive options and helps the front end of the defense play to their strengths.

As with everything else, things are subject to change by the time the Chiefs head to St. Joseph for training camp. It’s possible that wide receiver, guard, and safety are all positions in play when the Chiefs go on the draft clock 23rd overall. Player acquisitions through free agency and the draft, over the next thirty days could change everything, but for the forseeable future, I’ll stand by these opinions.

Am I completely off base with my offseason ideas about this team? Will the Chiefs’ offensive line take a step backward to start the year? Can Jenkins be the answer opposite of Bowe? Are there other more burning questions for Kansas City in 2014? Use the comment section below to weigh in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!

 

 

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  • berttheclock

    Question for you, Stacy. Now, I found this at sfgate about the Niners. But, Brandon Thomas, an OG from Clemson needing work by better coaches and weight training types, was going to be taken in the mid rounds by someone. However, he just tore his ACL. So, the question raised at sfgate is the same I ask you, would you take him in the 7th as a future prospect? 2014 would be a writeoff, but, perhaps, a leg up for 2015.

    • Auburn78

      Normally yes. But this year with our small handful of picks…. only if we are able to fill the rest of our needs.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Not unless we add additional picks. With fewer picks, I’m not sure you can use one to draft a player who won’t touch the field in 2014 at all.

      • Lewis Rigor

        Hey what is the status of K Williams have not heard any news on him

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Kyle Williams? He became an unrestricted free agency last month.
          I doubt he’ll be back with the team.

          • Lewis Rigor

            Oh got ya. Never heard a peep since his injury so even if he signs min wage you think he will still be gone?

          • Stacy D. Smith

            There’s a chance he could be brought back after the NFL Draft.

  • berttheclock

    One other point concerns Lewis. Yes, he lacked speed, but, look at how often he and Demps had to try to pick up the slots who the nickle back had missed and were coming at them at full speed. Last year, the Seahawks upgraded their pass rush which really helped, but, they tried another tactic early on. They had signed the older Antoine Winfield from the Vikings to become their nickle back, but, his age gave way in camp and he was beaten out by Walter Thurmond, and he retired at the end of camp. Thurmond was the demon who really hurt the slots, especially, in the SB game. But, he jumped, this season to the Giants. I still say nickle back must be improved in order to stop those many slots from heading for our safeties like runaway freight trains.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      That’s an excellent point. I think that’s one reason why you could see a cornerback taken with one of the Chiefs top three picks. Flowers was a mixed bag in the role. I think that’s why the Chiefs brought in Chris Owens to compete for time in sub packages.

      • Calchiefsfan

        I wonder if Flowers learning the nuances of the nickel back just took a while. I hope it wasn’t because he lost a step. If Flowers turns into a shutdown nickel back this year, that cures a lot of the problems that Bert mentioned.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          He’s just not suited to playing press-man coverage. Flowers is best served in zone coverage.

          • berttheclock

            Lyle Graversen feels very strongly that a pass rusher is more important than a nickle back. I submit Seattle, where they brought in Avril and he applied great pressure to Manning, so, I agree with Lyle that a solid pass rusher is needed. However, at the same time Walter Thurmond, their NB created timing problems by slowing down the slots and Manning was forced to take more time. So, in my opinion, the NB and the pass rusher really work hand in hand. One to slow and make slots think about them and that pass rusher who can get to the QB.

          • Calchiefsfan

            I also read where he is a master at using the sideline to his advantage, that would be difficult with the slot going over the middle so often.

        • mnelson52

          I’m sure you noticed the improvement of Flowers as the year progressed. In the playoff game at Indy. TJ Hilton was almost a non factor till Flowers got hurt and had to leave the game.

  • Daniel Mayfield

    If they look at Jenkins being able to upgrade and fill in that #2 spot, I don’t see them picking up a WR in the 1st round. It wouldn’t surprise me if they pick an OL player since they are lacking in that area. It depends on how good the player is. Becides, WRs are usually a bust in the 1st round, like Baldwin was….but you never know. Avery might improve his skills. Less drops would be a big upgrade for him since he’s got speed
    But….if they have a chance to get Clinton-Dix, Pryor, or even Huff I would be surprised if they pass on any of those 3. IMO, Huff would be better then Pryor. Huff played CB and FS. Like I read before, he’s good on defending and coverage-like CB and tackling-like a FS should do.
    Pryor is more like Berry. IMO, KC don’t need another player like that. They need somebody that can play deep defense.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Pryor’s got the range, athleticism, and ball skills to play centerfield on this defense.

      • Daniel Mayfield

        Ok, maybe I was wrong about him. When I was reading the article, I thought it was talking about pyro being more like Berry. Still, there’s the 3 DBs I would like to see them get if they are still there.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          He’s more like Berry than Clinton-Dix. No question about that. Pryor might actually be more like Berry than any safety in the 2014 class.

          • Daniel Mayfield

            So in the numbers, who would you pick 1st? #1Clinton-Dix,
            #2 Huff, #3 Pryor
            Those are who I think would be best for the team. IMO anyway

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I don’t think Huff name belongs in that group. I’d take Pryor over Clinton-Dix though. I think he’s the more complete safety. Sutton’s defense values versatility.

          • mnelson52

            I really don’t know a lot about Sanders Cummings, but I do think they plan on starting him at safety. I do know that Sanders 40 at the combine was faster than any safety in this draft class.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I think he’ll compete for the role. As of today, I’d say Abdullah has the edge. He has the NFL experience.

  • P Heitman

    Not as worried for Stephenson as I am Fisher. Don at least had 3 starts on the right side last year. Fisher???That said, perhaps muscle memory and a certain comfort level at LT will help Eric out this year. Who knows, he could play better at LT seeing as that’s his “normal” position (and he’s had a full offseason in an NFL program).

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Hopefully there’s minimal adjustment time for the both of them.

      • tm1946

        Not sure what the “minimal adjustment time” is but seems fair to say a number of regular season games will be included in that period. How many may tell the tale on this years Chiefs season or so it seems to me. Just a bad year to have no money to resign vets or find a legit gap filler.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Reid will just need to scheme around it. Max protect and maybe have a more run-heavy game plan against the teams with the best pass rush early in the year.

  • CaliChief57

    I think Jimmie Ward is in the same range as Ha HA and Pryor, but after that I feel all the 3rd to 5th round prospects are all about the same. In the later rounds I like Huff, Dowling and Dontae Johnson. Dowling and Dontae remind me of commings same bulid speed and size. But you have to wonder if they figured that Berry will play the single deep. They didn’t go for Clemons who is a rangier FS and instead they went for Danieal Manning who is a in the box SS.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Not sure how telling that is. They need depth at strong safety. Hard to read much else into that.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I don’t think Ward’s on par with either Clinton-Dix or Pryor. He’s in that second tier at his position.

      • CaliChief57

        Ward is faster and has better range than both Ha Ha and Pryor as a true single high safety that sutton runs

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Pryor and Clinton-Dix both have recent sub-4.6 times (4.58 to be exact). I’m pretty sure Ward ran a 4.6 in the 40.

          • CaliChief57

            Ward ran a 4.48 and is the third best safety in the draft. Don’t think he’ll last past the early 2nd.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            4.6 must’ve been his Combine time. Even if he goes in Round 2, I think that’ll be a clear indication that there’s a gap between he and the aforementioned two safeties.

          • mnelson52

            Sanders Commings is big, physical, 4.41 40 at combine, and played center field. I believe those are the reasons they feel he can transition from corner to safety rather easily. I don’t know if he is the answer or not, but with only 6 picks this year, I think they will go with him and use their minimal draft picks elsewhere. He may be as good or better than anyone in this class. You never know, but I do know Dorsey had a reason for drafting him.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I think he’ll be in the mix and get the chance to compete for the job.
            Right now he’ll have Abdullah to compete with. There’s a good chance a third player enters the fold come the second week in May.

    • cyberry

      Go watch some tape of Dontae Johnson, yes he is fast and athletic but he doesn’t have the instincts and seem’s shy’s away from contact.. Sander’s will knock the shit out of a player when the ball is on the other side field.. Just to let him know we is there. Just because a player has the same build,40 time and might be close as athletic as another player..no the same. Demp’s proved that last year. He was one of the most physically gifted players on the team..but all that speed could get himself in the right position on time because he couldn’t diagnosis a play quick enough or was fooled..where as Eric Berry reads and reacts so quick.. that’s why he lead the league in tackles behind the line of scrimmage for DB’s.. can’t teach that if a gift..

      • CaliChief57

        Demps was a pure safety that took bad angles. Dontae Johnson cover corner/ safety prospect probably gonna be moved to safety full time in the nfl, just like commings, so his cover skills as FS should be better than demps. Dontae Johnson is also 6’2 and just as fast as commings. So having two commings out there with berry wouldn’t be bad at all. Choosing Demps is a bad comparison.

        • mnelson52

          Johnson 6’2 200 lbs 4.45 40
          Commings 6’0 216 lbs 4.41 40
          I agree they would look good together, but they resigned Abdullah for a reason.

  • jesse

    All this off season has told me is that they are gonna pick the best player available. They like Jenkins and that young guard. They have commings and Kelce who they have said they expect big things from and don’t forget how they’ve been raving about catapano. This will be a surprise pick for all but the front office.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I’m not sure that this team’s in a position to take the best player available irrespective of positional value, scarcity, and need. The Chiefs have a few glaring needs.

      Let’s say for a second that the best player available is a runningback. Does anyone think they’d draft a runningback with clear holes at safety, guard, and wide receiver?

      • Calchiefsfan

        Is there a running back with a first round grade in this class? I wonder how much the need of a team plays into the BPA strategy. It’s hard to believe that it is a pure BPA strategy with player analysis being so subjective.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          That was just an example. A quick illustration of why I think pure BPA only exists for teams with loaded rosters and few, if any, glaring needs.

          • mnelson52

            I agree. I think if we have 4 or 5 needs they will take the player with the highest value of those needs.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Position scarcity matters too. I think people tend to forget that.

            Assume for a second that Brandin Cooks and Calvin Pryor are both there at 23.
            Both of them are starting-caliber players who would come in and compete for vacancies at their respective positions.

            WR is one of the deepest position groups in the draft class.
            S is one of the shallowest position groups in this draft class.

            Assuming you plan to draft a player from each, it would make more sense to take Pryor there if positional scarcity matters. The gap between him and the next safety is WIDE. The gap between Cooks and the next WR? Not so much.

  • Calchiefsfan

    The O line, pass rush and free safety play are the biggest issues for the Chiefs going into this season, imho. Yes we need to upgrade at WR but the way our offense was scoring at the end of the year, with the current roster of WRs (minus McCluster), I’m not overly concerned. Unless Dix or Pryor are available I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs go for a pass rushing DL in the first or trading down and getting someone like Truitt as Laddie suggested. They can get a quality guard or WR in the 3rd round, then Huff or Ward in the 4th. Let’s hope Commings stays healthy. He could go a long way in curing the defensive ills.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      With the signing of Walker, I think we’re better off with the pass rush than we were this time last year. We could stand to snag a passrushing OLB (to prepare for a potential Hali departure), but I don’t think we necessarily need anyone to contribute in that way right now.

  • Bosco Cletus

    I’m concerned about offensive line as well. I don’t think any team wants their QB running around for their life after letting key starters go. Picking up a Guard somewhere along in the draft seems like a good bet. If 72 cant cut it at LT we are in big big trouble.

    The Jenkins thing is a mystery, they see these guys every day, we only see them on sundays, so I cant say. I really feel like Alex needs his Vernon Davis swag back, that warm safety blanket that when everything breaks down, you know he’s probably open somewhere and can dump it off to him.

    The FS part, I still think an upgrade can some in the draft or from June 1st cuts. Abdullah was really great in the playoff game, but as the game wore on, it doesn’t take a genius to know we got beat as our secondary went to its backups because of injuries.

    Agree in whole, WR, G, FS are our biggest concerns.

  • Roger Mihalko

    Good points and agree for the most part.

    I actually think the O-line will come together with the players we have, but an additional tackle and guard couldn’t hurt.

    The What IFs:

    ……………. Commings, just doesn’t feel right and I wont be sold till I see it for myself. I guess I’m from Missouri…..Show me…. walk the walk. In that end… Abdullah is not a full time Free safety, he isn’t very fast, and is built more for Strong Safety which is what he is listed at on the roster. I do think resigning him was a good move as he is perfect for the third safety spot they use so much.

    ……………Kelce just doesn’t feel right and I wont be sold till I see it for myself. We have Fasano, If he can stay on the field for more than 8 games. McGrath is solid, just needs to be utilized more. Harris and gordon are on the roster too, sizable and should be tested in training camp.

    …………..Jenkins, just doesn’t feel right and I wont be sold till I see it for myself.

    ……………Catapano… he wasnt injured and has some snaps, so I have better feeling he can come in and do good things, but still developing.

    …………….Nico Johnson… got hurt a bit, played some, didn’t wow me. Same as catapano, hope he can develop and do good things.

    I would feel better with Veterans at this point to give these players time to get healthy and playtime to develop but that just no the case.

    Its gamble for sure, if everyone plugs in and plays to their ability it could be great.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Save Abdullah, none of the players on your list have shown us enough to think the problem at their positions have been solved. No question about that.

      • Roger Mihalko

        I am taking from context you agree with most of what I said which agrees with most of what the article said. Stephenson, Fisher, Allen, Linkenbaugh, Hudson, have significant snaps under there belts to make the oline. Watkins and Johnson are the what if’s.. along with a few others.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I tend to agree with most of what you said. Though I think Stephenson/Fisher got their fewest snaps at their new positions. They’ll need a little time.

  • Andy

    Thanks for the article. I agree the OL will take some time to gel.
    We didn’t make a splash at wr in fa, not because of high hopes on Jenkins. We were trying to get fa help, just didn’t pan out.
    My bet, knowing Reid draft history, OL will be our first choice.
    With the losses out weighing the gainsn in fa, we have to hit this draft.
    Bottom line, seems like Reid and Dorsey have the big picture in mind and won’t be swayed from it.
    I trust Reid and Dorsey, I trust Reid and Dorsey, I trust Reid and Dorsey….

  • Juiced

    Our offensive line last year was good because of AS11. Over 50 unblocked blitzes and only 5 sacks. Needless to say, as long as AS11 is under center we are fine with our Oline.

    We will address most of our concerns through the draft aka wr, safety, right guard, and obvious depth. We aren’t dealing with chumps anymore at GM/HC like in the Haley days. These guys know what their doing. Draft first mentality is what built the Eagles and Packers into playoff every year teams…NOT FREE AGENCY like so many of you believe. Our depth was just so piss poor last year that we had to resort to that.

    Just like someone else said earlier, we only see these guys on game day, but our coaches see them practically every day…trust in the system. Last year at this point we never saw a 9-0 start or and 11-5 playoff team that put up huge points in the last 5 or so games. We had the number one pick and we were the worst team in the league. Clearly everyone forgot that our turn around was because of Reid and Dorsey taking care of business. So let them!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Alex Smith is adept at avoiding pressure, but any time players come in unblocked, the level of risk goes up significantly. It gives Smith less time to throw, forces him to make a decision quicker than he may have wanted, or puts him on the move. I’m glad we have a quarterback who can scramble if necessary, but I’d like to have a line that can give him 3-4 seconds to throw fairly consistently.

      Both the Eagles and Packers benefitted from key free agent signings, but I do agree that the core of those teams were established in the draft. This team needs to take advantage of EVERY opportunity to improve. The NFL Draft, free agency, the supplemental draft, undrafted free agents, etc.

      No stone should be left unturned.

  • Stan Colbert

    I agree! There is no way that line will not be severely tested the first half season any way! They would have been tested with last year’s schedule!
    They may like Jenkins, but, they were sure upset about Sanders and I don’t think it was entirely because he signed with Denver.
    Commings and Abdullah may be the answer but they inquired about Bethea and Manning.
    I do think they are at a point where they can go into the draft saying there isn’t one position area we have to find a starter! It is also my fervent belief that the 2015 Chiefs will be better than the 2014 Chiefs! Both of those positions are fantastic IMO!