Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition X

This week we discuss the Chiefs' running back situation, recently released linebacker Odell Thurman, Turk McBride, rookie contracts and rookie free agents.

What's your take on the Chiefs' three-headed running back monster? Will Jamaal Charles take away a considerable amount of Kolby Smith's carries and leave him the odd man out?

Nick Athan: I talked with Kolby Smith Thursday in the locker room and he's not going down without a fight. However, I believe the future is the rookie from Texas. Charles is the new NFL prototype running back. He's fast, quick and can catch the ball. Smith possesses some of those same qualities and will likely be number two on the depth chart behind Larry Johnson. But among all of the Chiefs coaches, scouts and executives that I talked with after the draft, outside of Glenn Dorsey, Charles was the guy they were most excited about in regards to potential and impact.

Michael Ash: The only thing that might keep Kolby Smith on the field this season is the fact he's easily the best pass blocker of the three. If the Chiefs want to avoid making it obvious that the offense is going to pass when Smith enters the game, he'll have to get a few carries now and then.

But Charles will almost surely be second on the depth chart, unless he has a poor camp and becomes fumble prone. The coaches seem to be pretty excited about him. Barring another injury to Johnson, I don't think Smith is going to see much action this year.

C.E. Wendler: Larry Johnson won't be able to carry the ball in every short-yardage and goal-line situation this year. I'm sure the Chiefs would like Kolby Smith's 220-pound frame in there for such duties, rather than Charles' comparatively slight build. Also, if you really want to get creative, put all three backs in the game at the same time in the Wishbone.

Why not make a run at former Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman? He'd bring some youth and much needed depth to the linebacker corps.

Nick Athan: Herm Edwards and I had a lengthy conversation in January about Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson. Edwards said he was OK with players who were potential problems. I can't see Thurman as an option for the Chiefs, however, mostly because I ran into Gunther Cunningham this week and he loves the new linebacker unit he's coaching this year. With the addition of DeMorrio Williams and the development of Nate Harris, the Chiefs have some depth capable of spelling the current three starting linebackers (Edwards, Harris and Derrick Johnson).

Would Odell Thurman have a future with the Chiefs?
Andy Lyons

Michael Ash: Provided they could sign him to a low-risk deal that contains plenty of clauses about his off-field behavior, I wouldn't object at all to the Chiefs taking a chance on Thurman. He's an extremely talented player and could be an ideal Cover 2 middle linebacker.

But aside from the rather glaring fact that he hasn't played football in two years, Thurman is probably one strike from never playing a snap in the NFL again. If the Chiefs were interested in taking that sort of chance, they would have looked at Koren Robinson by now. Then there's the comments Edwards made about Pacman Jones this offseason, that he'd never want a player like Pacman on his team. It's clear Edwards isn't interested in bringing troubled players here. I can't say I blame him.

C.E. Wendler: I don't see the timing being right on this one. The Chiefs want to give Napoleon Harris another chance to prove himself in the middle this season. If that doesn't work out, they'll obviously go after other options. Signing Thurman, just to stick him on the bench behind Harris, would seem counterproductive. Besides, didn't this team just dump the guy with off-the-field issues?

Why isn't Turk McBride projected as our starting left defensive end? Second-round picks should be starting in year two.

Nick Athan: I think this is a position that will be a work in progress. He's going to get a shot to beat out Alfonso Boone, who is the #1 guy at the moment. McBride was solid at Thursday's practice and he's definitely in better shape than he was a year ago. But keep an eye on seventh-round draft pick, Brian Johnston - Turk has his hands full in this competition. The good news is that the Chiefs will, if nothing else, have some depth at defensive end.

Michael Ash: I'm not really sure what's going on with the left end position. Maybe the talk of starting Boone outside is being used to motivate McBride, or maybe the Chiefs plan to use Turk's versatility the way the Giants used Justin Tuck last season. Tuck isn't a starter, but he's a major part of New York's defense, playing at defensive end, defensive tackle, and as a pass-rushing linebacker.

People tend to get caught up in the "starter" label, though. From everything I've heard, Turk is going to see plenty of action regardless of whether he's technically the starter. If Boone starts, it could be for no other reason than the Chiefs expect teams to come out running, and Boone's a big space-eater who plays the run well.

C.E. Wendler: McBride's future is inside as a pass-rushing defensive tackle. He doesn't fit the body-type you see in Cover 2 defensive ends across the league. Neither does Boone, but the Chiefs seem to have more confidence in him out there than McBride for whatever reason.

With Matt Ryan and Jake Long under contract do the Chiefs start negotiating with Glenn Dorsey and/or Branden Albert now?

How soon should the Chiefs get Glenn Dorsey signed?
Nick Laham

Nick Athan: My understanding is that preliminary talks have begun with both players. The Chiefs' front office has already allocated the dollars from Clark Hunt to sign all 12 picks, so I can't see any reason why these deals won't get done soon. The good news is that Dorsey's agent has a good relationship with the front office. Denny Thum will likely complete the deal before training camp.

However, I do expect that Albert, who has made it clear money does not motivate him, will likely be the first of KC's top picks to sign. His money is slotted.

Michael Ash: Matt Ryan signed for an extra year and got more guaranteed money than Jake Long did, so I could see the Chiefs waiting to see what kind of contract the Rams give defensive end Chris Long. Since he's also a defensive lineman, how the Rams deal with Long could determine Dorsey's deal in part.

C.E. Wendler: If history is any indicator, this process will be drawn out until training camp. I'm not trying to be negative, just stating the facts. Given the fact Ethan Lock is not involved this year, however, I suspect there will be less stress over the signing of Dorsey and Albert compare to what transpired with Dwayne Bowe a year ago. It would be an absolute travesty if Dorsey went down the same path Ryan Sims did as a rookie – holding out, showing up out of shape and getting injured.

How many rookie free agents do you anticipate making the team? Who are each of your top three URFA to make the team?

Nick: I think you'll see at least four or five make the roster. In no particular order at the moment, guard Chris McDuffie, defensive end Johnny Dingle, defensive tackle Derek Lokey and linebacker Steve Octavian are my favorites. Another guy who has an outside shot is running back Dantrelle Savage. He could be a practice squad guy for certain, but he has more of that coveted speed.

Michael Ash: If memory serves, I think only two undrafted rookies – Tyron Brackenridge and Nate Harris - made the team last season. But I wouldn't be surprised if four or five make it this year.

Picking three who I think the Chiefs would take, McDuffie, who is 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, has the kind of size Chan Gailey seems to like. Then Mike Cox, the fullback from Georgia Tech, who's obviously familiar with Gailey already. Last is wide receiver Luke Swan from Wisconsin, who got a full-court press from the Chiefs as soon as the draft was over.

C.E. Wendler: I think the 53-man roster will be mostly drafted players and veterans, though it'd be nice to see Connor Barth win the kicking job outright. You can bet the practice squad will have it's fair share of rookie free agents, however. Give me Barth, Cox (need a fullback) and Dingle (the Chiefs have poor defensive end depth).

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