Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition XI

This week we tackle wide receivers, Herm Edwards' job security, the offensive line, rookies and Will Svitek.

How many games does Herm need to win to keep his job? I know Nick continues to insist he will be around no matter what, but that's not the way the NFL works!

Nick Athan: I don't think wins or losses are really going to matter this year. Clark Hunt signed off on the youth movement, changes in the offensive coaching staff and the trading of All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen. That means Edwards has a better chance of getting a contract extension than he does to get fired.

I doubt Edwards would have pushed this hard to rid the franchise of its stopgap practices if he didn't feel strongly that he'll get the three years required to make this team an AFC power. As I look at it now, this team will win at least six to eight games. That's more than enough to validate Edwards' plan.

Michael Ash: I don't think he's in any danger of losing his job this year. I suppose if Herm made grievous coaching errors that cost the team games, and the Chiefs finished worse than 4-12, and Arrowhead was nearly empty for the games in December, then perhaps Clark Hunt would replace both Edwards and Carl Peterson in an effort to avoid alienating the fanbase. But I'd consider that a pretty unlikely scenario.

C.E. Wendler: Edwards might as well be untouchable this year. The Chiefs could go 2-14 and he'd keep his job. Why? If the team is that bad, it's probably because of quarterback play, which means Brodie Croyle would be a convenient scapegoat for a bad season. Enter the draft, a new franchise quarterback (hopefully – no one wants Chad Pennington starting) and another chance for Edwards to do his thing.

Herm has stated he would like to have the offensive line intact before training camp. Do you guys feel that with this amount of playing time coupled with the level of talent will improve the line enough to give Brodie Croyle and Larry Johnson an opportunity to be productive?

Nick Athan: This line already is better. It's bigger, more athletic and will have youth up and down the line. Rudy Niswanger has been solid at center while veterans Damion McIntosh and Brian Waters add senior leadership. Branden Albert is the best left tackle the Chiefs have had since Willie Roaf, so the only decision is at right guard, where Adrian Jones has the job currently.

Croyle is already benefiting from more time to throw the ball and Johnson, who is 100 percent, is darting, weaving and running like he did two years ago. Some of that is talent, the other is the fact both playmakers have some daylight in front of them.

Michael Ash: After the horrible state of last year's line, the only major addition the Chiefs made was Branden Albert. They're crossing their fingers that all the things you mentioned in the question will produce a more capable offensive line.

If everything goes as planned, I think the line will be better than last year, just because it's hard to imagine brand new players at center, right guard, and right tackle still playing as poorly as the previous starters. But being better than last year doesn't necessarily mean it'll be good enough to let Croyle and Johnson do what they need to do.

C.E. Wendler: I'm going to go out on that limb like I did last year and make a prediction. I think the line will be infinitely improved from a pass-blocking standpoint with Albert and McIntosh at tackle (provided Mac can stay healthy). What's a concern is the running game.

I don't see the Chiefs running to the right with much success this year. That's going to be the weak side of their line, because McIntosh and Jones just aren't road graders. The left side, with Albert and Brian Waters, should produce plenty of space for Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. We'll see how Chan Gailey handles this. Vermeil's Chiefs had their problems running to the right, also.

Which WR besides Bowe will have the best year?

Will Jeff Webb flourish in '08?
Thomas E. Witte

Nick Athan: Rookie Will Franklin from Missouri. The reports coming from those who followed him at Missouri said he was not a good practice player, but thus far that hasn't been true. He's caught virtually every ball thrown his way in OTAs. Thursday he didn't get a lot of looks when the team was in 11-on-11 drills, but he seems to have a feel for the offense.

What I like about him is the way he runs routes and gets down the field. He can stretch a defense and it's good to know the Chiefs are willing to use those talents on offense. Right now he's the second-best receiver behind Dwayne Bowe.

Michael Ash: I'll go out on a limb and say Will Franklin will win the #2 job, which would obviously give him the inside track at having the best season other than Bowe.

C.E. Wendler: Jeff Webb, simply because he's been in the league two years now. Like I said a few weeks ago, it's just too difficult for a rookie receiver to come in and immediately flourish. Even Calvin Johnson had trouble a year ago. Franklin is a fourth-rounder coming from a spread offense. Thirty catches would be an incredible success for his rookie season.

Why are Brian Johnston, Tank Tyler and Barry Richardson not projected as starters? I would like to see us start as many young players as possible, so this season can be a learning experience.

Nick Athan: They could all could end up in the starting lineup before the season ends, and in fact I expect that. Johnston has been the best pass rusher to date. Tyler is number two behind Glenn Dorsey on the depth chart. I'm not sure why he's not starting ahead of Ron Edwards, who has looked pretty good thus far in OTAs, but Tank hasn't been a slouch out there. He looks far more sure of himself than he did as a wide-eyed rookie a year ago.

I think Richardson was the best late-round pick of the bunch. He can start at right tackle this year and may end up the guy if the Chiefs move McIntosh inside to guard.

Michael Ash: Being a sixth or seventh-round pick isn't going to give anyone a clear shot to the top of the depth chart, especially on the offensive line, where the Chiefs will surely want to line up the best five players they possibly can. Unless Richardson clearly demonstrates he's capable of holding down the right tackle position, KC's coaches aren't going to risk Brodie Croyle's health by starting a rookie simply so he can learn.

I'd rather see Brian Johnston at defensive end than Alfonso Boone, but that's because I have no interest in seeing Boone move outside. But to be projected as the starter, Johnston would have to beat out Turk McBride, too. As a second-round pick, McBride should certainly be starting over Johnston.

That's the troubling aspect of this year's team: with a young, rebuilding team, you would assume that last year's second and third-round picks should become starters. Pollard and Page moved into the starting lineup in their second year, and that was before the Chiefs had actually committed to a rebuild. So where are Tank and Turk?

I made the point in last week's roundtable that it becomes less important as to who gets labeled a "starter" on the defensive line, since there's so much rotation. But even with that in mind, it is alarming that Tank – in the midst of a rebuild – is playing with the backups while Ron Edwards is the one lining up next to Glenn Dorsey.

C.E. Wendler: Welcome to the Herm Edwards era. Starting jobs aren't handed out like party favors. They are earned. Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page both had to bide their time. Heck, forget the Herm Edwards era – the same was true for Larry Johnson. Johnston, Tyler and Richardson will get their opportunity. First they have to prove themselves.

Have we officially given up on Will Svitek? I don't see his name in the Mini Camp reports. Who in the Chiefs organization has this affinity to try and convert guys to new positions anyway? It's been happening for years, it worked out with Brian Waters, but he's clearly the exception.

Has Will Svitek reached the end of the line?
Jamie Squire

Nick Athan: This is it for Svitek. He's been nursing a leg injury so he's been limited to non-contact drills thus far in OTAs. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and he told me he was finally healthy. He's really battled the injury bug but I think he can be a solid back-up. I think the Chiefs will carry five tackles this year partly due to the inexperience and the fact they have some young talent on the roster.

To your other point about conversion, Waters and even Tony Richardson were wonderful exceptions. But it never worked with numerous other players. You could say the Boomer Grigsby experiment had some moderate success but I believe going forward we won't see any offense to defense switches anytime soon.

Michael Ash: The Chiefs have definitely given up on Svitek as the "left tackle of the future," which he was pegged as back before Willie Roaf retired. I wouldn't say they've given up on him entirely, but since he hasn't been practicing due to a bad shoulder, it's going to be harder for him to compete for a backup job with several healthy guys out there already.

As far as the conversion experiments, it's been going on over several head coaches now, so the only real constant is Carl Peterson. But I think that's more of a coaching decision than anything, and every case is unique. I think it's probably just a coincidence.

C.E. Wendler: Last year was Svitek's chance, and I can't help but feel he blew it, especially since he's not even being considered as a starting right tackle this offseason.

As for the efforts to convert players, it's not unique to the Chiefs. There's no one to "blame," so to speak. It goes on around the entire NFL, with hit-or-miss results everywhere. John Lynch – converted linebacker. Several teams wanted Rich Gannon to play cornerback before he became a Pro Bowl quarterback. Don't impugn the Chiefs for copying the rest of the league (it's not like William Bartee was any good at safety, anyway).

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