Filling Needs

With the start of free agency still a major question mark for all 32 NFL teams, the Kansas City Chiefs tackled the final day of the draft with the intent of filling a majority of their offseason needs.

In the aftermath of the first two days of the Chiefs draft, they netted three starters. In Day two the goal was to shore up some holes that might have been filled had the team been able to maneuver roster moves via free agency or through trades.

So as day three began, the Chiefs first pick on Saturday was a bit of a shock when they added to the strength of their team versus a weakness. By adding Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown to an already talented group of young players, he might not get a starting nod in 2011 but he'll add strength to the teams nickel package.

Currently the Chiefs boast a pair of young dynamic ascending corners in Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers. Each will be entering year four of their NFL careers. Last year the Chiefs drafted Javier Arenas and a year before that Donald Washington to fill out the secondary.

With Brown, some of those plans could change. At some point General Manager Scott Pioli will have to find the riches to sign either Flowers or Carr. By adding Arenas and now Brown, it appears the Chiefs General Manager has purchased some insurance.

It'll be interesting to see if Brown can push either Carr or Flowers for a starting role.
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Still at the moment, I can't see Brown ousting either Brandons. But he does bring a dimension to the defense that in particular Flowers struggles with game in and game out. Brown is very physical at the line of scrimmage and has solid tackling skills. His vigor and playmaking abilities should help the Chiefs secondary keep pace with some of the division best receivers.

Thanks to the Alex Magee trade to Tampa Bay last season and the tampering charge leveled at Detroit, Kansas City was able to secure a future starting quarterback and a back-up linebacker. So with the house money they were given, the Chiefs selected Iowa Quarterback Ricky Stanzi and Oregon State Outside Linebacker Gabe Miller.

Stanzi is certainly one of the most intriguing of all of the Chiefs draft selections. Personally I was not a big fan of Stanzi. But after reading up on him once he became a Chief, it was hard to deny the benefit and edge he might get on other quarterbacks for playing in a Pro Style offense at the collegiate level.

But in his four-year career, he took nearly 80% of his snaps under and in each season for the most part his statistics were better than the year before. And as a 5th year senior, Stanzi has the maturity and mental makeup to become Matt Cassel's primary back-up in 2011.

Until the lockout is lifted, it is unclear whether current backup Brodie Croyle will return to the Chiefs but this move seems to indicate to me that Croyle's days in Kansas City are over.

Still it remains to be seen whether or not Stanzi will ever be more than a backup quarterback but this is a relatively risk-less pick for the Chiefs.

The addition of Ricky Stanzi quite likely means that last years back-up Brodie Croyle might be out in KC.
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In the case of Gabe Miller, the Chiefs landed a project player that has a ton of athletic ability. Miller was a track star at Oregon State but an ankle injury forced him to redshirt in 2006. But make no mistake about it; Miller is not your typical track star turned NFL prospect. Miller is a true lunch pale worker and that's not just an overused cliche. At Oregon State, Miller majored in Construction Engineering so it's safe to say he'll be ready for whatever hits him at the NFL level.

Miller started his college career as a tight end but eventually moved to defensive end after the 2008 season. It was then that scouts began to notice and why at this level he'll likely play outside linebacker in the Chiefs base defense. Still at 6-3, 257 pounds he's ideal to play linebacker but I would not rule out seeing what he can do at defensive end. There was a reason the Chiefs took him two rounds than anyone had projected he'd go in this draft. So maybe they know something about his ability to add 20 pounds so he can remain at defensive end in the NFL.

But the pick is puzzling when you consider the day before the Chiefs added Justin Houston from Georgia. So it's safe to assume that Miller might have to earn his chops on special teams.

For my money however, the pick of the day by Kansas City came in the sixth round when they took space-eating nose tackle Jerrell Powe from Ole Miss. The Chiefs have a glaring hole in the middle of their defensive front three. But the fact they may have filled that gap in round six is even more amazing. Most experts had Powe going anywhere from round three to four.

The knock on Powe is his stamina and he's nowhere in the football shape that last years starting defensive end Ron Edwards was for the Chiefs. But it would be naïve to think the Chiefs aren't penciling him as Edwards' replacement.

Still there was a reason he slid. And most attribute that to his academic struggles. But where some view that as a detriment, the Chiefs look at as something positive. And the truth is this; the kid didn't come from the best mind-cultivating environment. The fact is he hunkered down and got himself through college is a testament to his mental toughness.

Powe's best attribute is he's a pure bull rusher. If he can comprehend basic gap assignments, which he is more than capable of doing, the Chiefs have landed an impact player with a low end 6th round compensatory pick. And that doesn't happen very often.

To that light, seventh round compensatory picks hold little value. But I am really excited about former Ivy League fullback Shane Bannon that the Chiefs snatched with their last pick of the day.

The exciting thing about Bannon is that he is a true fullback and he has little desire to do anything else at this level. And this Ivy Leaguer could be in line for a starting role next season. At the moment the Chiefs aren't high on either of last years fullbacks Mike Cox or Tim Castille. So Bannon, should be able to win the job in training camp. That is if, there is a training camp this year.

Anyway you look at day three Scott Pioli complemented last seasons draft class by adding nine new additions that will each have a shot at making the 2011 Chiefs roster. Last season it was about bringing in team oriented players and team captains. Though he added a few of those this year, Pioli knew that his own locker room had successfully weathered the change in organizational philosophies and for the first time in his tenure in Kansas City, he was able to broaden his net.

Which ultimately made the Chiefs a better team than the one that lost it's playoff game just four months ago.

Now that you know the draft class what will free agency bring to Kansas City?

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