Ten To Watch in 2007

We learned quite a bit about the Chiefs in their 20-9 win over the Raiders. Perhaps for some it was an uninspiring victory, while for others it was par for the course in KC's dominance of Oakland, but there were positives. It's clear that a changing of the guard might be coming to Kansas City next year. There are some players who could be leaders on and off the field.

Here are ten players that will revamp the personality of this football team in 2007.

1. LG Brian Waters - His Saturday night pre-game speech was a thing of beauty. His development into the NFL's premier guard has been nothing short of sensational. The fact that he started his career as a fullback and blossomed into a perennial pro bowler means good things for the future of this offensive line. With Will Shields on the verge of retiring, Waters might be the only survivor on the line. He needs to take charge and lead his teammates. He appears ready to do just that.

2. S Jarrad Page - I've never been more excited about one single player on this defense in a long time. Page's two interceptions highlighted a night that also saw him record his first career sack, but more importantly he proved he's a player for this defense next season. Page will start, and that makes Greg Wesley expendable. With a strong offseason he and fellow rookie Bernard Pollard could quickly become the fastest and most feared safety tandem in the NFL.

3. S Sammy Knight - There is little doubt he can still play this game at a high level, but what might be even more valuable is his willingness to work with the young safeties. You can never take for granted a player who respects the word ‘team.' The Chiefs must keep him on the roster next season. They need his leadership on and off the field. He's probably one of the classiest guys on the team and this defense needs high character guys who believe in the system.

4. DE Tamba Hali - What impressed me most about Hali this season is the fact he hit the NFL Rookie Wall in Week 10, but with hard work and determination he busted down the door to finish strong. His motor is something every Chiefs player should try to emulate.

5. DE Jared Allen - Wow. He might be the league's best young pass rusher. After hitting a lull, Allen has been a man among boys lately. He's one of those players that has heart and passion that enjoys playing the game. That can't be said for every NFL player. Allen is playing like an All-Pro. He's due for a big raise this offseason and he's worthy of a long-term deal. Next year he could team with Hali to form a pass rushing combination reminiscent of Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith.

6. WR Jeff Webb - He was my sleeper pick in last year's draft. With a wide receiving corps that is really made up of two players (Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker), there is room for another receiver to step up. That could be Webb, who will certainly handle some of the return duties in 2007 with the expected departure of Dante Hall. Webb possesses both the speed and size needed to beat opposing secondaries. He has amazing hands, but lacks NFL experience. He could be headed to NFL Europe, but I hope the Chiefs keep him in Kansas City this offseason. He has skills and this team needs them on Sundays next year.

7. WR Chris Hannon - Never heard of him? You will next year. This former Tennessee Vols receiver has been placed in the Chiefs' Player Protection Program (PPP), and according to one of the executives I spoke with last week, Hannon is going to be a player. He's been compared in his route-running skills to former Michigan State and NFL standout Andre Rison. That's high praise. He's another candidate for NFL Europe, but like Webb I'd like to see him stay in Kansas City.

8. P Dustin Colquitt - In the first quarter of the season, Colquitt was the team's MVP, but this second-year punter has been lights out all season long. His mammoth 72-yard punt against the Raiders showcased his unlimited potential. He'll be an All-Pro next season and he's a weapon the Chiefs haven't had since the late Jerrell Wilson.

9. TE Kris Wilson - You never wish injury on another player, but sometimes that opens up an opportunity for another player. When Ronnie Cruz went down for the season the Chiefs were forced to play Kris Wilson at fullback. What they found out is that he could be the lead blocker for Larry Johnson while catching the ball out of the backfield and providing a red-zone threat. He gives the Chiefs options that should allow offensive coordinator Mike Solari to be far more creative in his sophomore season. Wilson might be the most unsung hero on the offense and I expect him to have a breakout season in 2007.

10. HC Herm Edwards - You think Edwards wasn't putting on his best recruiting face when he chatted with Oakland defensive tackle Warren Sapp the other night? What Edwards did this season was nothing short of amazing. I don't think people realize how old this football team was entering the 2006 season. What Edwards has done is plug some holes, but he has an eye on what needs to be done to make this team a playoff team in 2007. A guy like Sapp would be a welcome addition, along with a few other players on offense and defense. This will be a challenging offseason for Edwards with major question marks at quarterback, linebacker, defensive line, offensive line and cornerback. He and the personnel staff will have to make some difficult decisions. But I have zero doubt that Edwards is up to the task. This team, regardless of their final 2006 record, is better than the one that finished 10-6 a year ago.

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