Nick Athan: On offense, Matt Cassel. If the Chiefs are going to score points he'll need to be All-World to overcome the issues on the offensive line and in the receiver corps. There has been debate over Cassel and some think he was a flash in the pan, but he has the intangibles to lead an offense outside of New England.
On defense, Tyson Jackson. It's just a hunch, but this team is due for some good fortune on the defensive line, especially from a first-round pick. He's all business, has a solid work ethic and expects not only to start this year but to be a man who makes plays. He also has a slight chip on his shoulder because many felt the Chiefs reached with the third overall pick.
Michael Ash: Whether it's by design or the result of playing from behind, the Chiefs will probably be throwing the ball around quite a bit. So Matt Cassel seems like the best bet for offensive MVP.
On defense, there might not even be one -- it could be like asking who the MVP was of last year's squad. An already-woeful unit undergoing a scheme change is not the best recipe for success. But if I had to pick someone it would be Derrick Johnson. How he plays at inside linebacker could be a barometer for how the defense plays as a whole.
C.E. Wendler: I don't necessarily agree with the Cassel selection, mostly because from what we've seen thus far in OTAs, the passing game is going to take some time before it's running smoothly. Combine that with Todd Haley's comments about utilizing the running game, and Larry Johnson seems like a possible offensive MVP. If the Chiefs run a balanced offense this season and Johnson puts up 1,300 yards or better, he'd certainly qualify.
Defensively, this is going way out there, but if he can stay healthy, Mike Brown. Throughout his career he's had an impact in both pass defense and run defense, and his ability to raise the play of others around him is well documented. If the Chiefs have a better year on defense than most are anticipating, I'm positive Brown will be at the center of it.
Of the unknown players currently on the roster which ones have the best chance to start?
Nick Athan: He's not all that unknown, but wide receiver Jeff Webb. He looked good in practice sessions and is a little leaner and faster than last season. He does posses some skill at the position. The Chiefs did tender him and are committed to paying him over $1 million.
Since this team needs another receiver to step up and I'm not a fan of the Bobby Engram signing (the jury is still out on Mark Bradley), if Webb can step up, he might be a sleeper candidate to start this season.
Does Leggett have a chance to start?
Jed Jacobsohn - Getty
Defensively, there are a few unknowns – Bobby Greenwood, Corey Mays, Derek Lokey, Pierre Walters – who were reportedly running with the second team at various points during OTAs. That's mainly due to the fact that Glenn Dorsey didn't practice much, Mike Vrabel was absent, and things of that nature.
That forced some backups to play with the starters, and then the backups' backups became second-teamers. But if there were a rash of injuries during camp, those players may find themselves in the mix.
C.E. Wendler: He's not exactly an unknown, but to a casual fan Maurice Leggett certainly isn't a player who is instantly recognizable. Because he performed so well out of nowhere for the Chiefs last season, and performed well in OTAs this Spring (intercepted Matt Cassel at least twice according to reports), you'd definitely think he has a chance to start.
Compounding this fact is the reality that the Chiefs have no accomplished veteran cornerbacks. And we can't forget that Brandon Carr didn't perform nearly as well as his rookie classmate, Brandon Flowers. Leggett might surprise some people.
Do you think this team is ahead of where last year's team was heading into training camp?
Nick Athan: They are miles ahead of where they were a year ago at any point. In fact, I'll go as far as saying they are ahead of where they were at any point the last two years. They certainly are in better shape and Haley has a lot of the players staying in Kansas City before they head to River Falls to continue their workouts. I also think this is a more disciplined team than at any point over the last two years.
As far as the units on the field, the defense is ahead of the offense and they won the battle in OTAs and Mini-Camp. The defense is quicker to the ball, more active and the leadership of Zach Thomas has shown up. Offensively the Chiefs are behind because of a new quarterback and scheme, but I expect they'll catch up at some point in August.
Michael Ash: It's definitely a stronger team, but that's only natural since last year's plan was to go heavy with rookies and other young players. In terms of specific areas where the team has gotten stronger, start with the front office, but your question likely refers to the players.
There's definite improvement at quarterback. The wide receiver corps is stronger with the additions of Mark Bradley and Bobby Engram. A year ago at this time, Devard Darling was the #2 opposite Dwayne Bowe. The offensive line has improved with Mike Goff, though that will be completely negated if something happens with Brian Waters. Obviously, the Chiefs are weaker at tight end.
Defensively, there's not a big difference. The defensive line is a big question mark, so we can't really judge that. The linebacker corps seems stronger, but we don't know how Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali will fare in a new scheme or how well Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas will hold up. The secondary is stronger with Flowers and Carr having a year of experience under their belts, plus Mike Brown joining the rotation at safety.
C.E. Wendler: It's hard to say, really. There is undeniably more talent on the 2009 Chiefs, simply by way of veteran additions. But there is less continuity and less familiarity throughout the organization. People are still learning how their co-workers think and act on a daily basis, whether it's in the front office or on the playing field. Those relationships are obviously critical to success.
But we might have to give this year's edition of the Chiefs the edge simply because of the quarterback position. Matt Cassel has at least accomplished a little something in the NFL entering this season, which couldn't be said about any quarterback on the Chiefs' roster a year ago, and certainly not Brodie Croyle. Based on that fact alone, there's no question the 2009 Chiefs would thump the 2008 squad.
What are your top picks to show up to training camp out of shape?
Nick Athan: If anyone shows up out of shape, they'll be cut! Seriously, I can't see anyone reporting in lousy shape, because the lengths some of these players have traveled from the first voluntary workout to now have been impressive. If Haley catches any players slacking, it could be ugly.
But how about Brian Waters? He doesn't like to workout in the offseason and uses training camp to get in shape. The other would be Glenn Dorsey, who is battling injuries and might not be in shape come late July.
Will Waters show up in shape?
Jamie Squire - Getty
C.E. Wendler: No one. Seriously. Todd Haley has every member of the Kansas City Chiefs scared straight. They all saw what happened to Will Franklin, and that was at the beginning of offseason workouts. Not only was Franklin cut from the Chiefs, the Lions dumped him, too.
That should have sent a clear message to the Chiefs players – if you're in lousy shape, not only can you not play in Kansas City, you might not be able to play anywhere in the NFL. I have a strong feeling that when River Falls opens, the entire team will be in fantastic shape.