2008 Chiefs won't lack size

With training camp right around the corner, it's clear the 2008 Chiefs are a better football team, at least from a raw talent standpoint. What's also becoming obvious is that the 2008 Chiefs are a bigger football team.

In March, when we looked at KC's large wide receivers, it was a preview of things to come. It's clear now that Herm Edwards and new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey love big football players.

Edwards obviously wants to mold his football team in the same image that Jack Del Rio formed in Jacksonville over the past few seasons. The Jaguars have large wide receivers (Reggie Williams was mistaken for a tight end once), with several weighing in close to 220 pounds. Their tight ends are gargantuan, even by NFL standards – two standing 6-foot-6 and another pair measuring 6-foot-8, while six of them weigh at least 260.

The Jags have tanks in the backfield with Fred Taylor (228), Greg Jones (254) and even the diminutive Maurice Jones-Drew, who's small but plays big. They have giants on the defensive line and an offensive line that breaks the scales, with an average weight among the starters of almost 320 (and that's if you believe listed weights are 100 percent accurate).

Now let's take stock of what the Chiefs have done this offseason.

For starters, they dumped a handful of smaller/undersized players – Samie Parker, Benny Sapp, Kyle Turley, Chris Terry, Casey Wiegmann, Jimmy Wilkerson, Kris Wilson.

Via the draft, two massive offensive tackles (Branden Albert and Barry Richardson) arrived in tandem with a supersized tight end (Brad Cottam), another big wide receiver (Will Franklin), the largest corner on the roster (Brandon Carr) and a small-school defensive end with a freakish blend of size and speed (Brian Johnston).

Of course, KC's hunt for big boys began well before the 2008 draft. Last year's rookie class brought Dwayne Bowe, the aptly-named Tank Tyler and the stout Kolby Smith. Edwards' initial draft class contained two huge safeties (Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page) and another large wideout (Jeff Webb).


Branden Albert adds yet more size to KC's line.
Randy Litzinger

The sum total of these efforts has yielded a large lineup in several ways. The predicted 2008 starting offensive line (Albert/Waters/Niswanger/Jones/McIntosh) runs an average of 312 pounds. You can increase that figure if someone like Chris McDuffie, Tre Stallings or Richardson steals a starting spot.

As discussed in March, the Chiefs are large at wide receiver across the board. There is, of course, no lack of size among the tight ends, and Gailey has plenty of large running backs to choose from among Johnson, Smith and even a sleeper like Jackie Battle (no small player at 6-foot-2 and nearly 240 pounds).

Defensively, KC's size revolution is not as obvious. The Chiefs have no massive space eaters like Pat Williams or Ted Washington. The linebackers are fairly average-sized by NFL standards, and there's no corner in the secondary who will soon be compared to Dale Carter or Antonio Cromartie.

But compare Gunther Cunningham's unit to the other Cover Two defenses around the league, and it becomes a large group.

The Chiefs have no 245-pound defensive ends, ala Indy's Robert Mathis. There are no 285-pound pass-rushing defensive tackles like Tampa Bay's Jovan Haye. And you can forget about 5-foot-8 safeties (Bob Sanders) or 5-foot-11 linebackers (Gary Brackett).

Nope, the Chiefs are the largest defense in the league that bears the Cover Two label. Their defensive ends, across the board, are no smaller than Tamba Hali's 275 pounds (unless you're counting on one of the undrafted free agents making the team), with Alfonso Boone's move to left end maxing out the group. Save undrafted free agent Derek Lokey, every defensive tackle on the roster is listed over 300 pounds.

The Chiefs have big linebackers by Cover Two standards (Napoleon Harris, Derrick Johnson) and even bigger safeties (Page and Pollard).

Some might question the strategic value of using such large players in a Cover Two defense, but if you've watched the Chiefs on even a semi-regular basis over the last two seasons, it's obvious they don't run a pure Cover Two scheme. The blitz packages frequently used by Cunningham require bigger players from time to time (along the same lines, you don't see the Colts rush more than their front four all that often).

Heck, the Chiefs even have a big punter. Dustin Colquitt (a solid 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds) might moonlight as a safety if he attends speed camp next offseason.

So what does all this size mean? League history tells us that gargantuan teams can go far in the postseason.

The 1980s Redskins and 1990s Cowboys both won Super Bowls by dominating with huge offensive lines. The 1986 Giants, another Super Bowl champion, weren't particularly big on offense, but fielded a fairly sizable defense for the time, especially at linebacker.


The 1997 Chiefs used size to their advantage.
Brian Bahr

But here's the example I like best – the 1997 Chiefs. The best Chiefs team of the last 20 years (the 2003 Chiefs were half a team) was big pretty much everywhere. They had a 311-pound center (Tim Grunhard), quite uncommon in the league at the time, and destroyed teams between the tackles all season long to rank fifth in the league in rushing.

On defense, the '97 squad didn't field a single defensive lineman under 280. The linebackers, save Donnie Edwards, had plenty of size, and the secondary (Carter, James Hasty, Reggie Tongue, Jerome Woods) was enormous. The '97 Chiefs even had a tank of a kick returner in Tamarick Vanover, who was big enough at 220 pounds that KC's coaching staff experimented with him at running back.

It took one of the greatest running games of all time (Terrell Davis and the incredible 1997 Broncos offensive line) and an offense led by John Elway and Mike Shanahan to beat that season's Chiefs team in the playoffs. What Kansas City lacked was the right offensive coordinator (I don't need to tell Chiefs fans about Paul Hackett) and quarterback (and I don't need to remind anyone of Elvis Grbac/Rich Gannon). Those two elements were the downfall of the 1997 Chiefs.

The 2008 Chiefs clearly have the brawn. We'll find out if they have the brains (Chan Gailey and Brodie Croyle).

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories