Warpaint Roundtable - Offseason Edition III

This week we discuss trading out of the first round, nose tackles, the focus of the draft and Jimmy Clausen vs. Matt Cassel.

What is the most likely scenario for getting a dominant nose tackle?

Nick Athan: Alabama's Terrence Cody will likely be available at the top of the second round, as the first round will be filled with runs at the quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle and secondary positions this year. Cody may be the most NFL ready nose tackle coming out this year, but even so, his stock is falling. That's good news for the Chiefs, who can't enter 2010 with Ron Edwards as a starter.

Any football team is only as good as the lines they build on offense and defense. You can have shortcomings at other positions, but not up front. Right now the Chiefs really don't have three solid starters up front, so for my money, Cody is the guy the Chiefs can't afford to pass up if he's there in the second round.

Michael Ash: The most likely scenario, and probably the only one, is finding a nose tackle in the draft. Just by looking around the league, we can see that solid tackles have become as valuable as any commodity in the NFL. The Patriots, Packers, and 49ers all franchised their tackles, and Pittsburgh has signed theirs to a new contract. Teams are not going to let these players hit the open market.

Likewise, the price to trade for a dominant nose tackle would be enormously steep. And even if the Chiefs were willing to trade for one, they would be getting a player who's already been in the league for at least four or five seasons, meaning they'd miss out on some of his peak years.

A trade scenario that's more likely would be to bring in a decent stop-gap until a home-grown player is found. But it all comes down to the draft at the end. Much like a great quarterback, once a team has a dominant nose tackle they aren't going to let him go until he starts to decline. The only way to get one is to draft him.

C.E. Wendler: While Nick believes the Chiefs must take Cody in the second round, it may not be that simple. For one thing, the St. Louis Rams may have their eye on Cody after fielding one of the NFL's worst run defenses a year ago. And we have to consider that the San Diego Chargers, who are in dire need of a young nose tackle, could take Cody with the 28th pick in the first round.

So where does that leave the Chiefs? Well, it's important to note that you don't necessarily have to draft a nose tackle high to get a good one. Dallas' Jay Ratliff was a seventh round pick. The Jets' Sione Pouha, the best defensive tackle nobody knows about, was a third-round pick. San Francisco's Aubrayo Franklin was a fifth-round pick (though he was drafted by Baltimore).

Bottom line: if Scott Pioli is who we think he is, he'll be able to find a solid nose tackle outside the first or second round this year.


What should the focus be during the draft? Offense or defense?

Nick Athan: The Chiefs must select at least three offensive linemen. They need to find a starting center, starting guard and a left tackle. I'm not sold on Branden Albert at left tackle any longer, and I think he'll shift to right tackle, where he'll blossom. He's a bargain for the Chiefs right now because he's only going to earn about $3 million the next three years of his rookie contract, so the Chiefs can take a player like Rutgers tackle Anthony Davis in round one and pick up a center and guard in rounds two and three.

After that, they can find two more receivers a couple of linebackers and address their defensive line. The good news for the Chiefs is those are the most talent rich areas in this draft. They can find starters in the fifth and sixth rounds.


How badly do the Chiefs need a player like Eric Berry?
Getty

Michael Ash: Like every year, the focus should be on adding the best possible players to the football team. If you go in looking to draft for a certain side of the ball, it will inevitably lead to situations where you pass over better players to reach for someone who fits your pre-defined plan.

This year's draft is said to be heavy on defensive talent. But last year's draft was heavy on offensive linemen and that didn't seem to matter to the Chiefs' decision makers. Presumably, they went with their board. That's always a sound strategy – we just have to hope their evaluations are correct.

C.E. Wendler: Michael has the right idea, but if we had to pick a side, wouldn't it be the defense? Honestly, the Chiefs are starving for defensive talent. They have no nose tackle. They have no viable long-term starters at three linebacker positions. They have nothing at safety, unless you count Jarrad Page, who is a big question mark.

There are obvious playmakers on offense – Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers. The Chiefs need to focus on finding two or three real defensive studs this April. That doesn't mean they should ignore offense or draft all defense. That would be lunacy. But it's fairly obvious an influx of defensive talent is badly needed, and sooner rather than later.


With the possibility of a rookie cap next year in the NFL, what do you think about the Chiefs trading their first-round pick this year to save money, receiving a first-round pick next year in return? For example, the rumor is that the Ravens are willing to trade their first-round pick this year. Next year, the Ravens would have two first-round picks within the rookie cap, saving money.

Nick Athan: The Chiefs do not have money problems. They need to spend right now. Even so, I feel strongly that general manager Scott Pioli will deal the fifth overall pick. But the Chiefs don't need to stockpile picks for 2011. They need to find as many as they can in this draft, because it's deep.

You're assuming that we'll see a rookie pay scale, but that will be the item the union will protest the most. If there is a scale, it'll only serve to insure some deserving veterans get more money in their second contract. But don't be misled one bit by some notion that the Chiefs need to save money. If they have to overpay a player to lure him to Kansas City, they need to do it.

Michael Ash: It's a smart move if a team can pull it off. Once a rookie cap is in place, first-round draft picks will be even more valuable than they currently are because the picks won't come with such a hefty financial burden. If a team can stockpile those picks, it will be a huge advantage.

But a team has to be in the right position for that strategy to pay off. Coming off two straight playoff appearances, a team picking low in the draft like Baltimore can afford to sacrifice their first-rounder this year. The Chiefs, on the other hand, need all the help they can get, so they can't really afford to trade away a top-five pick for future considerations. They would also be criticized for being cheap.

C.E. Wendler: Considering that this is supposedly one of the deepest defensive drafts in years, the idea that the Chiefs would not only trade their first-round pick, but trade it for considerations in next year's draft strikes me as completely insane. We just watched KC's defense get destroyed for two years in a row, and now people want to pass on top defensive talent? No way.

I can see the Chiefs trading their top choice for more picks in later rounds this year. That would be a terrific way to take advantage of the aforementioned defensive talent that's available. But otherwise, trading the pick seems like a foolish thing to do, regardless of money.


If you had a gun to your head and had to pick one quarterback for the Chiefs, would it be Jimmy Clausen or Matt Cassel?

Nick Athan: I'd take the bullet and pick Sam Bradford. An NFL scout I spoke with Friday compared Bradford to Joe Montana. He can make all the throws, is intelligent, has perfect arm motion and is a natural born leader. And he makes plays in the clutch. Right now he's a lock to go to the Rams, unfortunately.

To answer your question, I'm not sold on Clausen, but the Chiefs' new offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, is. A reliable team source has informed me that Weis wants to bring in another quarterback and is not sold on Cassel. That's why we keep hearing rumors that Browns quarterback Brady Quinn could be traded to the Chiefs. But if I had to choose between Clausen and Cassel, I'd pick Cassel.


Clausen or Cassel?
Kevin C. Cox - Getty

Michael Ash: Right now, I'd say Cassel. There are some issues surrounding Clausen that haven't been settled yet – questions about attitude and immaturity, that sort of thing. The Chiefs don't need to risk drafting a player like Jay Cutler, or worse, Ryan Leaf. That seems to be the biggest knock on Clausen, and is why Sam Bradford – a quarterback from a spread offense who's coming off a serious shoulder injury – is considered the better prospect among many evaluators.

Obviously, the Chiefs have the benefit of Charlie Weis being on staff, as he should be able to evaluate Clausen better than anyone. But you also have to wonder if someone who's been so heavily invested in Clausen might have on blinders to some of his faults.

C.E. Wendler: If I had to pick, it'd be Cassel, because he's actually had success in the NFL at this point. But why not both? That's the question the Chiefs are hopefully asking themselves at this point. Why can't we have both Jimmy Clausen and Matt Cassel on our roster this season?

If the Chiefs pick Clausen, this debate can be worked out via competition, which makes a heck of a lot more sense than just choosing one before Clausen has thrown a single NFL pass. But what has Cassel truly proven at this point that he should prevent the Chiefs from drafting Clausen? The search for a franchise quarterback shouldn't end just because you're paying a player like he's a franchise quarterback.

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