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.
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.
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.
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!
Tags: Kansas City Chiefs