There's a good chance the Chiefs will have to find new starters at center and right guard before the 2008 season begins. Casey Wiegmann and John Welbourn do not appear to be in the mix for next season – we'll leave them out of the discussion entirely. What are the options?
Could the cupboard be any barer? With the likely departure of Wiegmann and Welbourn, not to mention Chris Bober (who sat out all of 2007 with a hip injury), the Chiefs have an extreme lack of depth along the interior offensive line. Look for the team to attack this major weakness on all fronts in the coming months.
Waters has been tabbed for a potential move to center, but we won't assume that's a lock at this point – we'll consider center candidates. Niswanger and Stallings both received limited snaps in 2007 at right guard, though both are actually listed on KC's roster at different positions (center and tackle).
Alan Faneca – Don't expect the Steelers to re-sign their perennial Pro-Bowl lineman, no matter how good he might be. The bridges between Faneca and the organization were burned in training camp last year when the two sides could not agree on a new contract. He'll likely get a big deal in free agency, but should it be from the Chiefs? At 31 years of age, Faneca is no spring chicken, and his play dropped in 2007 (6.25 sacks allowed).
Ryan Lilja – The Chiefs let Lilja escape a few years ago when they tried to sneak him onto their practice squad. It didn't work out as the Indianapolis Colts snapped him up and he blossomed into an All-Pro player, starting 43 games since 2004. Lilja is listed at only 290 pounds, but don't let that fool you – he's both an excellent pass blocker (only three sacks allowed last season, just seven for his career) and a strong run blocker.
The only red flag here might be some injury problems – Lilja missed a chunk of time in 2006 with a knee injury. Lilja's teammate, right guard Jake Scott, will also hit unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Jacob Bell – The Chiefs are trying to build a dominant ground game. Why not go after a guard who was part of one of the NFL's best rushing teams the last few years? Bell is young (26) and a big part of the reason why the Tennessee Titans ranked in the top five in rushing the last two years. He's also allowed just three sacks in his last 31 starts, and is capable of playing multiple positions along the offensive line, including right tackle.
Other 2007 unrestricted free agents – Ruben Brown, Justin Smiley, Jason Brown, Seth McKinney, Floyd Womack, Elton Brown, Chris Myers, Tyson Clabo, Montrae Holland, Fred Weary, Jason Whittle, Jake Scott, Chris Liwienski.
John Sullivan (Notre Dame) – The Chiefs passed on a couple of good centers a year ago in the draft (Samson Satele, Ryan Kalil), so now might be the perfect time to find one. If the goal in the running game is to dominate up front, Sullivan might be the best fit. He's one of those rare centers who tips the scales at over 300 pounds and can back that size up on the field by being stout at the point of attack.
He's not a great athlete, but carries the label of a leader and hard worker, traits Herm Edwards loves in any player. Best of all, he should be sitting on the board when the Chiefs draft in the middle rounds.
Roy Scheuning (Oregon St.) – Looking for a power guard? Scheuning might be the best fit. At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, the Oregon St. lineman looks the part and his play on the field didn't disappoint this season, as the Beavers rolled up over 170 rushing yards per game.
NFLDraftCountdown.com describes Scheuning as a player who will "engulf and dominate opponents" and compares him to Logan Mankins, the starting left guard for the New England Patriots. Scheuning also has four years of starting experience, definitely a plus, and he's not even the top rated guard on the board.
Fixing KC's Offensive Line - Part I
Fixing KC's Offensive Line – Part II
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