For Now, Albert Is A Left Tackle

Before we dive into the chaos, let's clear up one thing: we have zero reason to believe that Chiefs' left tackle Branden Albert is switching to right tackle or even guard at this point. It's certainly possible, but to label it as "likely" is speculation at best and ignorance at worst.

Even so, that's what ESPN's Bill Williamson would have you believe. Last Friday, in his AFC West Blog, he presented the "likely" scenario that the Chiefs will draft a left tackle in the first round this April to replace Albert, who would then move to right tackle. Williamson's support for this idea is the notion that Albert has been slow to develop, and "scouts" believe he would be more effective at right tackle.

There's only one problem with that reasoning – it's wildly uninformed.

But that didn't stop people from eating it up like it was a hot story. Soon after Williamson's blog went live, the "news" that Albert was moving to right tackle spread across the internet like wildfire. It hit Yahoo! Sports, and then spread to rotoworld.com, which took the word "likely" and translated it into the idea that the Chiefs are now expected to move Albert to right tackle.

Obviously, fans across the internet reacted to this in the manner you would expect. There are now hundreds, if not thousands, of people who follow the Chiefs who believe that not only will Albert wind up playing right tackle this season, but Scott Pioli and Todd Haley will be picking a left tackle with the fifth pick in this year's draft.

Chaos has resulted from what is really nothing more than uninformed speculation on Williamson's behalf. And there is confusion about what ESPN is actually reporting at this juncture, because Albert is currently listed as a guard on their website. In any case, the reasoning that Albert has been "slow to develop" and would "be more effective at right tackle" is uninformed.

First, there's the issue of Albert's development. While it's true, from a 16-game standpoint, Albert had a disappointing 2009, it's only fair to point out that his rookie season was a success. Despite playing in two drastically different offensive systems and protecting multiple quarterbacks, Albert allowed only five sacks and had just one penalty. As a rookie, Albert's development was right on track.

The snag he hit in 2009 is a concern, but to label him as someone who now needs to switch positions smacks of ignorance. That's because by the end of 2009, Albert was showing improvement and playing at a much higher level.

This information has been presented before here on Warpaint Illustrated, but once again – the Chiefs averaged 416 yards per game and 25 points over the last month of the season. During that time frame, quarterback Matt Cassel was sacked only five times.

Not only did Kansas City's offense thrive as a whole, Albert's play improved, too. In fact, according to data compiled by ProFootballFocus.com, Albert went the entire month of December without allowing a sack. While he had five penalties, three occurred in one game against the Buffalo Bills. Perhaps even more impressive, Albert allowed only six pressures in four weeks (including just one in the season's final three games). His pass blocking and run blocking over this period rated out as season highs.

In his final game, against one of the league's top pass rushers, Albert was more than competent. Denver's Elvis Dumervil, who led the league in sacks, was shut out, and in fact didn't even hit Cassel once, and had just one solo tackle. Not only did Albert take out Dumervil in Week 17, he left Aaron Schobel and Kamerion Wimbley sackless in the season's final month, too.

In a nutshell, Albert was playing really good football in December 2009.

There's no question Albert's play improved after he learned how to block with new technique and adjusted to his new, lighter body. It took 17 weeks for him to make that adjustment, so we have to ask the question – why would the Chiefs even consider asking him to switch positions now after he made so much progress?

Albert's weight loss ties into the issue of him supposedly being more suited to play right tackle. It's not exactly a secret that your average NFL right tackle is a larger, stronger player who plays a key role in the running game. Because the Chiefs just had him lose about 40 pounds this past season, why would they want Albert, an extremely athletic player who now weighs in at just over 300 pounds, to play a position that is tailor made for a road grader?

It wouldn't make much sense. In fact, you really have to question the "scouts" that Williamson referenced in his AFC West blog. Are they boy scouts or do they actually follow the NFL?

The other issue with moving Albert to right tackle is that, well, he's never played that position. You could make a case that he might be better off at left guard, his college position (although his weight loss is an issue, again), but to suggest Albert could simply flip-flop sides and be better off is a stretch. The Chiefs attempted such a transition with their last left tackle (Damion McIntosh), and it had disastrous results.

The logic behind Albert's "likely" move to right tackle doesn't add up. Do we even really need to get too deep into the idea that anyone, let alone an ESPN Blogger, has an idea of what position the Chiefs are targeting in the draft this April? Such secrets are kept well under wraps at Arrowhead Stadium these days. And does it even make sense for the Chiefs to invest another first-round pick on the offensive line when they have so many question marks on defense? When you review Albert's play at the conclusion of 2009, not really.

In the end, you have to question if Bill Williamson (or anyone that referenced his report about Albert's incoming position switch) even watched the Chiefs, or Albert, extensively last season. The presentation of Albert isn't accurate. Of course, you might expect that from someone who once labeled Matt Cassel as an immobile quarterback.

Gee, between Cassel's apparently lead feet and Albert supposedly being more suited to play right tackle, no wonder the Chiefs allowed 45 sacks last season! You could believe that, or perhaps there is something to be said for actually knowing the facts.

Is it possible Albert is switching positions? Yes. Is it likely? Nothing at this juncture would indicate that, other than uninformed speculation.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories