I have to admit this is my favorite time of the year. It would be even better if I could sit in KC's war room on draft day before the 23rd pick, but that's not going to happen.
Last year the Chiefs didn't need anyone's help, as they plucked five potential 2007 starters. In the first round they drafted defensive end Tamba Hali, safety Bernard Pollard came in the second, quarterback Brodie Croyle in the third and wide receiver Jeff Webb in the sixth. They saved the best for last when they chose safety Jarrad Page in the seventh.
That's a successful draft. In fact, last year's class might go down as the best in team history. If you add in sixth-round pick Tre Stallings, who could eventually replace Will Shields, there aren't many other teams that can measure up.
As we head into the 2007 draft, the Chiefs have been active in free agency. To date they've added left tackle Damion McIntosh, linebackers Napoleon Harris and Donnie Edwards, defensive tackle Alphonso Boone and defensive back Jon McGraw.
On the other side of the ledger, they've booted safety Sammy Knight, defensive tackle James Reed, fullback Ronnie Cruz, tackle Jordan Black, defensive tackle John Browning and snap man Kendall Gammon.
Others will follow. Quarterback Trent Green, defensive end Eric hicks, defensive tackle Ryan Sims, safety William Bartee, return man Dante Hall and safety Greg Wesley will soon be gone. Shields has retired and center Casey Wiegmann may follow.
So what do the Chiefs do in the draft?
On offense they need to upgrade the line and add at least one downfield threat at wide receiver. The draft is loaded with both positions.
To re-tool their offensive line, the perfect scenario for the Chiefs would be to draft Auburn guard Ben Grubbs in the first round, right tackle Justin Blalock from Texas in the second and make a move up in the third round to draft Clemson center Dustin Fry. The Chiefs would love to grab Hawaii center Samson Satele, but he won't get out of the second round.
But if the above scenario worked out, the Chiefs would eventually become a dominating run-first, pass-second offense that would be hard to beat. You add those young, talented performers to a mix that features All-Pro guard Brian Waters and McIntosh, and oh baby, watch the Chiefs run.
Assuming for a minute the Chiefs receive a fourth-round pick in exchange for Green, they could be in a position to take Fresno State wide receiver Paul Williams or LSU's Dwayne Bowe on the second day. Granted, Bowe would be stroke of luck, and it's not probable he'll slide to day two, but if the Chiefs trade Hall and/or Wesley they could turn those picks into another first-day pick.
If they move Jared Allen, they could strike gold, but that's not on the horizon – at least not at this point.
On defense, the Chiefs have some gaping holes. They must find another pass rusher, another defensive tackle and get younger in the defensive backfield.
The cornerback position is deep this year, and if the Chiefs took one with their first pick they could land Aaron Ross from Texas or, my personal favorite, Arkansas corner Chris Houston. Of all the available corners I think Houston will make the biggest impact in 2007.
In the latter stages of the draft look for the Chiefs to give serious thought to UNLV corner Eric Wright, whom Herm Edwards has personally worked out. Kenny Scott from Georgia Tech is a sleeper. He's fast and a bit undersized at the moment, but he could bulk up.
Though the Chiefs have been aggressive in upgrading their defensive line they must find another interior lineman and have flirted with the Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, who is available by trade. But I'd like to see them find a gem in the draft.
The best player at the position is 19-year old phenom Amobi Okoye. He's a beast, and when he matures a few years from now could change the way the position is played in the NFL. Unfortunately, at the moment he's projected to go to the Washington Redskins, which will probably detour his development.
The other star is Michigan's Alan Branch, who is now sliding down draft charts and could be available for the Chiefs at #23. But after Chiefs defensive line coach Tim Krumrie exposed his flaws at Michigan's Pro Day, many feel he's not ready to be a huge contributor right away and that has damaged his stock. To me, either way, the Chiefs should pass on him.
The name to keep an eye on is DeMarcus ‘Tank' Tyler, who appears to be a player the Chiefs are targeting. President Carl Peterson was seen talking to him at North Carolina State's pro day. In my opinion, next to Okoye and Florida's Ray McDonald, Tyler has the most upside and potential.
But after that the class is weak, and the draft will eat up the top seven guys within the first three rounds, so Kansas City will probably have to be aggressive if they want to get an impact player. If they are looking for a sleeper in day two, I'd spend a second-day draft pick on Utah's Paul Soliai. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 344 pounds, he's short on talent but is a space eater and a good project.
It's far too early to really predict who the Chiefs will take, however. Over the next two weeks they'll run some of these players and many more through Arrowhead Stadium to throw off the scent as to who they might actually draft.
Peterson and Edwards have done a solid job in reshaping the roster. With another standout draft led by Vice President of Player Personal Bill Kuharich, with back-to-back solid drafts the Chiefs could inject much needed youth into a roster that was teetering on the edge of a retirement community.
In other Chiefs News:
Trent Green - The Dolphins and Chiefs continue trade talks as it appears inevitable Green will land in South Florida. Miami has really shot themselves in the foot now that word has leaked out that Daunte Culppeper is at least four to five months away from being ready to practice at 100 percent. The Chiefs can continue to put the squeeze on the Fish and not settle for a second-day draft choice. Look for this deal to come to an end with the Chiefs receiving a fourth-round pick sometime this week.
Also, don't rule out the possibility of the Cleveland Browns entering the mix again. Despite public reports to the contrary, they are still interested. Browns General Manager Phil Savage is not ready to tip his hand as to what they might be doing with the third pick in the draft later this month. They are interested in both JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.
Jared Allen - Despite what appears to be some very hard feelings from Jared Allen's camp, we've heard the young defensive end really wants to stay in Kansas City. He's been working very hard in Arizona to get in shape and has been dealing head on with the off-the-field issues that have the Chiefs hesitant to offer a long term contract.
The problem appears to be squarely on the shoulders of agent Ken Harris, who is far more concerned with making a name for himself in the business rather then trying to work out a reasonable deal with the Chiefs. In the end, I think the two sides will bridge the gap before training camp and come to some sort of reasonable parameters once the NFL hands down its inevitable suspension for Allen's DUI arrests.
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