So far, I've spelled it all out and if Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards take my latest advice they can't miss. With the draft just three months away the fans may want an offensive tackle or a stud wide receiver, but I say forget those urges and draft defense, defense and more defense on the first day.
Last season Edwards did the unbelievable. He turned the Chiefs ‘32' defense into one that made plays, created turnovers and improved in every phase of the game. They ended up ranked 16th and, considering how far they've come, you have to wonder what Edwards can do with better, faster and more talented players.
Like I said in a previous column, Edwards improved this defense leaps and bounds by simply adding veteran Ty Law, two journeyman defensive tackles, a pair of young rookie safeties (who were mostly backups) and Tamba Hali.
Imagine what he can do with another solid draft?
To the Chiefs credit they weren't afraid to get some of their young defensive players action early and often throughout the season. That's a testament to Edwards and it was refreshing to see. It was in direct contrast to the philosophy of Dick Vermeil.
Edwards knows that you build a football team through the draft, and if you want to be a successful team in the playoffs you better draft playmakers.
Assuming for the moment that the Chiefs take my advice and sign veteran linebacker Donnie Edwards and defensive tackle Warren Sapp, they can shore up a few more holes to really make this defense downright special.
The biggest area of need is along the interior of the defensive line. This team has whiffed drafting at that position since Hank Stram was head coach.
The draft isn't deep in defensive tackles, although I imagine there will be a Jared Allen-like player somewhere in the middle rounds. At the top are Michigan's Alan Branch, Ohio State's Quinn Pitcock, North Carolina State's DeMarcus Tyler and a fast riser, Louisville's Amobi Okoye. That name might be familiar to Chiefs fans, but he's not related to former Kansas City running back Christian Okoye.
It's doubtful that Okoye or Branch will be sitting there toward the late part of the first round when the Chiefs are on the clock, but there are a number of other defensive tackle projects to be had in the later rounds. One of the sleepers might be Oklahoma State's Ryan McBean, who could be on the board in the second round when the Chiefs draft.
Even if the Chiefs sign Edwards, they still need to address their linebackers. Penn State boasts a pair of outstanding young players in Paul Posluszny (the top linebacker on the board) and Tim Shaw. Both play on the outside. Shaw could slip to the third round but he might be worth a look.
In case the Chiefs don't sign Edwards or resign Kawika Mitchell, they could use Patrick Willis from Ole Miss, but he won't last that late in the first round. My sleeper in the third or fourth round might be Oregon's Blair Phillips. He doesn't possess great speed, but amassed 105 tackles last year for the Ducks and he knows how to get to the quarterback. He just makes plays and sort of reminds me of Edwards.
In the secondary, the Chiefs are set with a rotation of Jarrad Page, Bernard Pollard and Sammy Knight. They need to draft a young cornerback and they've spent a lot of time with Tennessee's Jonathan Wade at the North-South game in Mobile this week. He's just a shade under six feet, but he's fast. His ability to play off a receiver and come up and break up passes is something that NFL teams using the Cover Two depend on.
He won't go in the first round and could fall all the way to third round, so the Chiefs should try to find a way to get him. He's one of those corners that can only play a certain style, so he's not for every NFL team but he's a player.
If the Chiefs want to do something drastic they could select Aaron Ross from Texas with their first pick, but that might be a reach.
Kansas City might want to consider trading out of the first round. After the top 10 guys it's all about who you fall in love with. Last year that theory worked very well for the Chiefs.
The bottom line is that Kansas City must stay aggressive on defense. At this point it's anyone's guess how they'll play in the free agent bonanza. At least they have some cap space.
Adding talented football players on defense who can make plays in every quarter should be the top priority for the Chiefs. If I were Kansas City I'd spend all three of my first day picks shoring up the defense.
Tomorrow: #10 Draft Offense
Move # 9 – Draft Defense
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