In trading a fifth-round pick this year and a third-rounder in 2005 for Philadelphia lineman John Welbourn, the Chiefs acquired a versatile veteran who could help them at several spots in '04. Among the possibilities, the chance that Welbourn -- a starter at left guard for four seasons -- can move into the right tackle spot vacated by the free agent departure of John Tait.
The opportunity to land immediate offensive line help could make Welbourn Kansas City's best move of the '04 -- at least on a short-term basis.
The Chiefs' offensive line was the rock-solid foundation of the league's top-scoring offense in each of the past two seasons. Intact for 33 consecutive games from 2003-04, KC line opened the way for Priest Holmes and kept Trent Green injury-free for three straight years in KC.
So, yeah, there was considerable concern when Chicago rang the money bell and Tait heard the siren call of a $14 million signing bonus. Kansas City moved to address the opening by the free-agent signing of Chris Bober, a solid but unspectacular tackle candidate. But even as he signed on the line, the Chiefs discussed Bober in terms of a contender for the position, not a favorite to win it.
They tried the same talk upon getting Welbourn in a draft-day trade Sunday, but the tone was different even as the words sounded the same. Welbourn had played in three straight NFC Championship Games with the Eagles. He had done more than just hold his own in the rugged NFC East, and even though he'd talk his way out of Philly just two years after signing a big-bucks deal, this was a proven player the Chiefs knew was worth the gamble, his disgruntlement with the Eagles notwithstanding.
"It's a tremendous security blanket, tremendous," Coach Dick Vermeil said of having Welbourn available for either backup duty at guard or a starting role at right tackle.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
The Chiefs are catching considerable heat from Kansas City talk shows and some of their fans for not drafting Iowa kicker Nick Kaeding with their 61st pick in the second round.
The Chiefs worried that 43-year-old kicker Morten Andersen has lost both range and accuracy on longer kicks, talked about it seriously, but decided that a Round 2 pick was too expensive for a kicker.
Instead, they drafted a tight end, Kris Wilson of Pittsburgh. They don't exactly need a tight end -- not with Pro Bowl star Tony Gonzalez and big Jason Dunn around -- but they hope to add some new wrinkles to their offense with an H-back type who can block like a fullback and run patterns like an oversized wide receiver.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"If we're right in regard to Junior -- and it's always if you're right -- we have a guy who projects to be the kind of player years from now people will wish they had drafted with the first or second pick of the draft." -- Coach Dick Vermeil, who while downplaying talks that No. 1 pick Junior Siavii can contribute immediately at defensive tackle nonetheless, believes the Chiefs, got a big-time difference maker.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Chiefs quickly signed 11 undrafted college free agents within days of the draft.
Other rookie free agents include S Scott Connot of Division II South Dakota State, WR Zach Fletcher of Alabama, WR Travis Garvin of West Virginia (via Missouri), C Ryan Lilja of Kansas State, G Matt Miller of Division III Louisiana College, CB Benny Sapp of Iowa (and Northern Iowa), C Jonathan Smith of Washington State, CB Sean Weston of Texas A&M, CB Marvin Jackson of Division II Chadron State and LB Rich Scanlon of Syracuse.