It seems a little odd that one of the most valuable and necessary positions on a 3-4 defense has for the most part been overlooked since Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel arrived in Kansas City.
Stopgap players like Ron Edwards, Anthony Toribio, Amon Gordon, and Kelly Gregg have put a band aid on the bleeding hole up the middle but no serious attempts have been made in either free agency or the draft prior to this year to fill the position long term.
Kansas City Chiefs General Scott Pioli has so far proven unwilling to overpay for a true 3-4 NT and if continues with this pattern you can count out players like Dontari Poe and Alameda Ta'amu are sure to go in the first two days.
But Pioli has shown interest in spending late round picks on project D-lineman like he did in 2011 with 6th round pick Jerrell Powe. Nicolas Jean-Baptiste fits the same mold.
Jean-Baptiste is a bowling ball type of Nose Tackle who is strong enough in his lower body to dominate his competition at times but many question his conditioning and technique. Though he would be a project player and not an instant impact guy, Jean-Baptiste has a fierce motor and unrelenting perseverance.
He joined the Bears as a walk-on but finished with 21 starts, 12.5 QB hurries, and 5 sacks. Though he tended to wear down late, Jean-Baptiste played his best against the best competition he faced in 2011 as a senior.
His 6'1", 330-pound frame is not prototypical but when mixed with his off the charts lower body strength Jean-Baptiste becomes a boulder.
At this point, the Chiefs primary NT is Kelly Gregg, And nearly everyone, besides Romeo Crennel, believes will retire prior to the start of training camp. Outside of Gregg the Chiefs have journeyman Anthony Toribio and Amon Gordon who can both play the interior position. Although both players show promise, neither has ever carried the load as a full time starter.
Although you could write Powe off after never seeing the field in 2011 you could also argue that the lack of off-season inhibited his learning (something he may already struggle with). If Crennel didn't believe Powe could improve he would not have occupied a precious roster spot for the entire season.
Nose tackles take time to develop and rarely make an instant impact. Investing huge dollars and valuable high-round picks on the position is just too risky. But taking a flyer on a guy like Jean-Baptiste, and letting him grow into the position could pay dividends for KC.
Though some have questioned his conditioning, this won't be a problem for Jean-Baptiste in KC as he would be a rotational player at best in year one. Jean-Baptiste is a known hard worker and will catch up fast.
If he can log any playing time in 2012, his never-ending motor and his unique gifts of size and strength - could develop him into a monster defensive tackle for the Chiefs.
Round 6: QB B.J. Coleman
Round 7: C Garth Gerhart
Round 7: T Chandler Burton
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Should the Chiefs take another flyer on a DT on day three of the draft?
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