Fixing KC's offensive line – Part I

OK, we can admit it. Warpaint Illustrated totally misjudged Kansas City's offensive line situation entering 2007. We recommended the same plan the Chiefs came up with – namely, sliding John Welbourn inside to right guard, starting Chris Terry and hoping.

It was May of 2007 when we boldly proclaimed "KC quarterbacks won't be sacked 41 times in 2007, and the Chiefs will average better than 4.18 yards per carry as a team." Oops. Kansas City's offense didn't come close to validating that prediction. Better luck next time.

Only this year, there won't be a next time. As the Chiefs begin the rebuild of their offensive line entering the offseason, we offer no predictions. Only options.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Current players:

Damion McIntosh
Adrian Jones
Will Svitek
Herb Taylor
Travis Leffew

With the departure of Chris Terry (released late in 2007) and Kyle Turley (retired), the Chiefs are left without an experienced right tackle who started a game in 2007. Youngster Will Svitek, a failed left tackle project, started a few times on the right side late last season, but hasn't locked down the job entering 2008. You can bet the Chiefs will be looking for a new starter.

It might come from the other side of the line. Rumors from multiple sources this offseason have Damion McIntosh switching from left tackle to right. In that event, the Chiefs would be left with a gaping hole at left tackle, which would be filled either via free agency or the NFL draft. Here are the options for both right and left tackle.

FREE AGENCY

Jordan Gross – A dependable player, Gross has started 80 straight games for the Carolina Panthers since he was drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft. He's an attractive option when you consider he gave up just three sacks last year and is only 27. The only negative here is that Gross is an unrestricted free agent who will likely command a huge contract in free agency this offseason.

Flozell Adams - At 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, Adams is an elite run blocker. But he's also 32 years old and like Gross, will probably garner big dollars this offseason. Making matters worse is the fact Adams was penalized 14 times last year.

Sean Locklear – Staying healthy was important for Locklear in 2007 after he missed a few starts due to a sprained ankle in 2006. He's only 26 years old and gave up three sacks last season (and committed only two penalties), making him a top free agent target for many teams. His only weakness is he isn't a great run blocker.

Other 2007 unrestricted free agents – Maurice Williams, Travelle Wharton, Stacy Andrews, Kwame Harris, Max Starks, Mike Rosenthal.

NFL DRAFT

Jake Long (Michigan) – The Chiefs will have a shot at drafting the top offensive tackle prospect this year as they'll pick either fourth or fifth, depending on a coin flip. Long is a devastating run blocker at the point of attack, but isn't quite the player in pass protection last year's top tackle, Joe Thomas, was. There are questions about whether Long is a left or right tackle in the NFL.

Ryan Clady (Boise State) – Probably the most athletic tackle coming out this year, Clady is projected as a mid-round pick in the first round. He started his final two years at Boise State all at left tackle (played right tackle as a freshman), helping the Broncos rank fifth in the country in scoring. One knock on Clady is that he only has three years of starting college experience as an offensive linemen – he started on the defensive line in high school.

Gosder Cherilus (Boston College) – A massive man at 6-foot-7 and 318 pounds, it's unsure whether Cherilus can play the left side in the pros. He's a strong run blocker, but struggled with athletic defensive ends in college. He started just one year on the left side at Boston College.

Other top rookie tackles – Chris Williams (Vanderbilt), Sam Baker (USC), Jeff Otah (Pittsburgh), Carl Nicks (Nebraska), Anthony Collins (Kansas).


Next week: Part II - Interior line.

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