WPI NFL Draft Preview - DT, OT

Our preview of the 2010 NFL Draft kicks off with the players in the trenches.

Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy

Since the general consensus seems to overwhelmingly favor them as the top defensive line prospects in the draft, we'll start our analysis with Suh and McCoy. From a Chiefs' perspective, though, there's not a whole lot to talk about.

For starters, while it's hardly guaranteed, it's widely expected that both players will be off the board by the fifth pick. But even if one of the two (surely McCoy) did fall to the Chiefs' pick, it seems unlikely he'd be taken.

Neither player projects as a 3-4 nose tackle, which is the position along the defensive line the Chiefs most need to fill. However, because of the Dallas Cowboys' success with the un-prototypical Jay Ratliff at nose, there has been some speculation among fans that perhaps the Chiefs could put Suh or McCoy in the middle.

Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 303 pounds, Ratliff plays with more of a focus on penetrating into the backfield than typical space-eating nose tackles. Both Suh and McCoy are a hair under 6-foot-4 and a few pounds below 300, so at least in theory it does seem possible that a 3-4 team could attempt to utilize them in a similar manner.

But with the Chiefs already using Glenn Dorsey at defensive end – another case of a player not fitting the prototypical mold for his position – it's hard to imagine them trying to fit another square peg into a round hole along the defensive line.

What, if anything, happens with Dorsey this offseason should determine whether Suh or McCoy appear on the Chiefs' radar. Given the way KC's run defense collapsed without Dorsey late in the year, the odds of him being traded away seem slim. But with a new coordinator, nothing is certain.

Since many around the league don't view Dorsey as a fit in a 3-4 scheme, when they need to write about potential trade possibilities, his name will keep popping up whether there's any truth to the idea or not.

Among the defensive tackles, another name to watch as we head towards the draft is Tennessee's Dan Williams, who does fit the mold of a typical NFL nose tackle. Come April, if Williams' stock rises to the point where teams picking in the teens are considering him, he could end up the Chiefs' selection at #5.

Hey, you never know. They took Tyson Jackson.

Offensive Tackle: Russell Okung and Anthony Davis

Speculation about the Chiefs drafting a left tackle kicked into high gear just a few days after the end of the season. During Todd Haley's final press conference, when the head coach was asked about Branden Albert, Haley replied that Albert would be a core player for the Chiefs "in some fashion."

Will the Chiefs take a tackle like Anthony Davis?

Many immediately leapt onto Haley's quote as a suggestion that Albert's future may not be at left tackle.

Much less discussed, however, was the fact that Haley made the same comment about another Chief during his presser. When discussing Tamba Hali's transition to outside linebacker, Haley stated that Hali would be a core player for the Chiefs "in some capacity."

Certainly, no one is anticipating another position change for Hali this offseason. He was one of the few bright spots on the Chiefs' defense. So if Haley used that phrase in reference to a player whose position is set, is there really a hidden message to be found in what he said about Albert?

Since every mock draft in existence seems to have the Chiefs taking an offensive tackle with their first pick, the answer to that question is apparently "yes."

A year ago, I was completely against the idea of the Chiefs drafting a tackle with their first pick. If you're interested in reading more detailed arguments in support of that position – many of which are just as applicable today – feel free to check out the Warpaint archives for the series of 2009 draft columns.

However, I admittedly can't stand as firm on that position now because Albert's future at left tackle doesn't appear as iron-clad as it did a year ago.

Of course, unlike the people creating mock drafts, Chiefs fans know there are good reasons Albert struggled this year. For one, he played while adjusting to a 30-pound weight loss, forcing him to rely on techniques he was still learning rather than on strength and mass like he was used to. For another, he had to learn a ton of new blocking schemes when Haley overhauled the offense two weeks before the season.

When the 2010 campaign opens, those issues should be tiny dots in his rearview mirror. Give Albert another season at left tackle and I fully expect him back on track.

However, there's always the possibility that KC's offensive minds, now including Charlie Weis, don't think Albert is their ideal left tackle. That's alright, because when Albert was drafted, nearly every Chiefs fan in existence applauded the pick by pointing out he'd probably have a tremendous career at guard if he didn't pan out at tackle.

But even if the team has decided Albert isn't the long-term answer, it doesn't mean they have to run out and grab the first player they can to replace him. As numerous draftniks link Okung to the Chiefs, many of them also point out that he isn't quite on the same level as other tackles that have gone early in the draft in recent years.

Because there's a small cloud of doubt now lingering over Albert, if the Chiefs had a shot at drafting an elite left tackle prospect, it's harder to argue against the oft-mentioned scenario where the line is reshuffled, with Albert moving inside and Brian Waters possibly moving to center.

But is Okung – or Davis, who a small minority have rated as the top tackle – really the player that will make them pull the trigger on such a move?

I might be alone but I can't picture Weis and Haley watching Okung and viewing him as such an upgrade over Albert that he's worthy of being the Chiefs' first round pick. And that's exactly what they would have to conclude, because if Okung isn't a major upgrade, then what's the point of drafting him? To improve at guard by moving Albert?

If the Chiefs are going to use the #5 pick to upgrade themselves at guard, they could just pull off another big reach and draft Idaho's Mike Iupati.

Next time: safety, linebacker

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