The Kansas City Chiefs improved from 4-12 to 10-6 and won the AFC West. That's progress, but there are still a lot of issues.
• Lack of speed opposite receiver Dwayne Bowe.
• Lack of a speed pass rusher to go with Tamba Hali.
• A so-so offensive line.
• Underachieving defensive linemen.
• A quarterback who had his best season, yet fizzled in the playoffs.
Aside from that, things are good.
Second-year coach Todd Haley did a nice job getting the Chiefs into the playoffs. They won the AFC West, but lost twice to the Raiders, once to the Chargers and once to the Broncos for a 2-4 record in the division.
That means they are far from having a stronghold on the division.
General manager Scott Pioli comes from the New England Patriots tree and has proven to be a solid talent evaluator, and his 2010 draft was a big reason why the Chiefs made the playoffs.
|Five possibilities: Chiefs|
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: The left tackle position has been a trouble spot for a while. Carimi could step in and fix it. |
Anthony Castonzo, OG, Boston College: He could play both guard spots and has been quality left tackle in college.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland: They need to get some help outside for their passing game. Smith can run.
Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor: He is the best pure nose tackle in this draft. Smith and Edwards aren't long for the job with the Chiefs.
Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky: If they go offensive line in the first round, they could come back and get a player like Cobb in the second.
Brinson: Chiefs offseason checkup
Team Needs: All 32 teams
Several rookies contributed in a big way. But Pioli needs to get more from his 2009 class that has produced just two starters, one of whom is underachieving defensive end Tyson Jackson.
The one thing Pioli has done is improve the overall team speed. Look for him to try to do more of that in this year's draft.
"We needed to upgrade our team speed because I think when we first got there it was certainly the slowest football team I've been a part of," Pioli said. "Not just on offense, not just on defense but on special teams."
The Chiefs made progress in 2010. But to continue that progress, Pioli needs another top-notch draft to go with the one he had last year.
QB: Matt Cassel played well for much of the season, but he didn't play well in the playoff loss to the Ravens. He doesn't have a great arm to drive the football, and that shows up at times. He needs to improve his deep-ball throws. Tyler Palko will be the backup if Brodie Croyle isn't re-signed. They could use a veteran here to help back up.
RB: Jamaal Charles emerged as the big-play runner. He is an explosive player who needs to get more touches. I know he's not big, but he needs to have the ball more. Backs with his home-run ability are rare. Thomas Jones is a tough runner, but he doesn't scare like Charles does. The Chiefs have said he will be back. Mike Cox is a solid fullback to go with Tim Castille. They could use another young back.
WR: Bowe is a big, strong receiver who can stretch the field. But he needs help. He draws way too many double teams. Chris Chambers wasn't the answer. They need to get a player opposite Bowe to help take doubles away. Dexter McCluster will be fine in the slot on third downs, but they need another threat. Verran Tucker has some talent, but he's raw. Jerheme Urban will be in the mix as well. A lack of speed shows up here in a big way.
TE: Tony Moeaki was impressive as a rookie. He can catch the football, but he's also a quality blocker. With another year, he could be a 75-catch player. Leonard Pope is a capable backup, but he's not really a receiving threat. Jake O'Connell is also just a blocker. They could use some help here.
OL: The best lineman last season was right guard Ryan Lilja, who signed as a free agent. The rest of the line was just OK. Left tackle Branden Albert played better than he did as a rookie, but still not to the level the team expects. Left guard Brian Waters can still be a decent player, but not what he once was. Center Casey Wiegmann struggled at times with big people on his nose. Right tackle Barry Richardson could be replaced. They do like second-year guard Jon Asamoah. I think he could be a right tackle if they don't draft one.
DL: They have some early-round picks playing here, but none has lived up to the hype. Glenn Dorsey is adequate as a 3-4 end, but is he worth the fifth overall pick? Tyson Jackson certainly hasn't shown he's worth the third overall pick. That's for sure. Shaun Smith played well at nose tackle and end, but he's just a guy. Ron Edwards is a steady veteran at nose. They need more from this group.
LB: Hali was sensational last season, emerging as a pass-rush force. He is an explosive edge player you must have in a 3-4 scheme. Mike Vrabel isn't much on the other side. It would be a shock if he were not replaced. He can't run at all. They need speed over there opposite Hali. Derrick Johnson played well at inside linebacker, but they could use an upgrade over Jovan Belcher at the other spot. Cory Greenwood might be that player.
DB: Cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr are a good, young tandem. Both excel playing man coverage. Flowers has more talent, but Carr played better late last season. He might be a free agent. Javier Arenas is a good nickel corner. Eric Berry started every game as a rookie and made some good plays, but he also got lost in coverage at times. Several players handled the other safety spot, but the team has high hopes for second-year player Kendrick Lewis, who started some as a rookie.
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