Chiefs Draft Gets A-
Round One – Safety Eric Berry (Tennessee)
I wasn't a big fan of Berry before the NFL Draft. I am of the belief that safeties drafted this high are huge risks. But this young man might be the exception. The Chiefs were slow at safety last year relying on veterans Mike Brown and Jon McGraw. But this pick makes sense especially when you consider their lack of pass rushing abilities as a team, Pioli knew the back end of this defense had to be fast.
New Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel and secondary coach Emmitt Thomas have a plethora of weapons at their disposal that could reshape the defense in 2010. There is no question as a whole this unit is the strongest part of the defense.
The credit for that belongs to Pioli and his personnel people. Generally you build a defense from the front to the back but this draft didn't yield the Chiefs that opportunity so they bucked a trend. In Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, third round pick Javier Arenas, fifth round pick safety Kendrick Lewis, Donald Washington and Maurice Leggett not to mention veteran Jarrad Page, all of a sudden the Chiefs have a might force in the defensive backfield.
And it all began because General Manager Scott Pioli took arguably the best safety prospect (Berry) to come out of college since Ed Reed. If he establishes himself as a leader in 2010, the rest of his unit has the potential to be the best in the AFC West this season.
Round Two – Wide Receiver Dexter McCluster & Cornerback Javier Arenas
McCluster will open the season as the Chiefs slot receiver when they use multiple receiver sets. Don't buy into the theory that his hands are too small or he's too frail to take the NFL pounding. Linebackers and safeties are going to fear that he's escaped into open spaces.
The Chiefs should not be tempted to give him too much as a runner or in the popular Wildcat formations that many NFL teams are copying these days. Right now he's the teams third best receiver and they should count their blessings they have him on the roster. He's going to be the Wes Welker of the Chiefs offense and if they expand his game than I'd rotate he and Charles in regards to returning kick-offs.
But what has me excited about the potential for that tandem is when Weis puts them both on the field at the same time. Imagine if he split them both out and into the slot on opposite sides. Opposing linebackers and safeties are going to be worried if one or the other gets free in the secondary - they'll create matchup nightmares for any opposing defense.
I'm just as excited about Arenas joining the Chiefs as I am about McCluster. The team can count on him to return punts this year and probably kick-offs. But he's an outstanding corner. He's basically Mark ‘Mighty Mouse' McMillan with better instincts and skills.
Sure his size is a concern. But the same was said about former Chief Kevin Ross and he turned out to be a solid corner. The good thing for his transition to the NFL is that he doesn't have to be a starter this year. So forget any talk right that he's going to challenge Carr for his starting job in 2010. Instead he can take on the dual role of special teams playmaker and nickel back without sacrificing the learning curve for either responsibility.
This round proves that Pioli was intent on adding difference makers at two positions where they lacked productivity to score points. And let's not forget that's the primary goal of every NFL team. Score more points than you're opponents.
Round Three - Guard John Asamoah & Tight End Tony Moeaki
The Chiefs were very fortunate to find Asamoah in the third round. I thought he was the second best Guard in this draft, behind Mike Iupati who was taken by San Francisco in the middle of the first round. If the Chiefs season began today, Asamoah could be the teams starting left Guard and it would allow Pioli and company to finally cut ties with veteran Brian Waters. There is talk the Chiefs may groom him at center but I hope they resist that temptation and start him at left guard this season. He will make Branden Albert a far better left tackle just by his presence on the Chiefs offensive line.
The pick of Moeaki wasn't really a surprise. Right now he's the teams best tight end. The Chiefs can plug him into the starters role right and be confident that this position will have far productivity than it did a year ago. Last year the Chiefs struggled at the position and only Leonard Pope did anything productive. But Pope is a solid back up and with Brad Cottom coming back from neck surgery; the drafting of Moeaki makes lot more sense. He can stretch the middle of the field, he has great hands, runs precise routes and can block with the best at his position. However, he had an injury-riddled career at Iowa and he must stay healthy. If he does, he should be able to get 35-40 catches and find the end zone five or six times in 2010.
Round Five - Safety Kendrick Lewis & Linebacker Cameron Sheffield
The addition of Lewis was pure genius by Pioli and company. The Chiefs had to draft a pair of young safeties this year because the jury is out on Jarrad Page and DaJuan Morgan. Page was in the doghouse a year ago and I don't even think Morgan will make the final 53. Lewis has solid instincts a nose for the ball and he runs well in open spaces. He could even eventually challenge for a starting spot opposite Berry at some point this season. He's an interesting find for the Chiefs because some scouting services had him ranked in the middle twenties but others had him in their top five. Either way the Chiefs found themselves a good football player.
The most intriguing pick is Sheffield where he dominating his league a year ago. He was a defensive end in college but he'll project as an outside linebacker in the NFL. He can rush the quarterback; make tackles behind the line of scrimmage and could someday start for this football team as an outside lineabacker. Now he needs some polishing and he'll get plenty of attention from Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel. Sheffield,in my opinion, has better pass rushing skills than Mike Vrabel, who isn't getting any younger. Still Sheffield needs time to develop. However something tells me this young man from Troy University is going to be a solid player for this football team.
Top Four - Undrafted Free Agents
1. Mike Johnson (OLB) – North Alabama
Keep an eye on the Gulf South Defensive player of the year. He could be a great find by the Chiefs. He had 113 tackles and five sacks last year and he has a motor and fire that never quits.
2. Andrew Lewis (G/C) – Oklahoma State
Why he wasn't' draft is a shocker to me. I think he could be the Chiefs starting center at some point. He can play Guard but is versatile enough for the Chiefs to experiment with him and eventually take over for Casey Wiegmann in 2011.
3. Garrett Brown (DT) – Minnesota
Even if the Chiefs sign free agent Defensive Tackle John Henderson this week, the signing of Brown might have been their best post draft decision. This young man is a beast in the middle. He takes up space and at 335 pounds still has enough agility to get into opposing backfields. He is also a high character guy that wanted to play for the Chiefs after going undrafted.
4. Rich Gunnell (WR) – Boston College
Like Lewis he wasn't drafted either and he fell into the waiting arms of the Chiefs. With so many question marks at this position for Kansas City, there isn't any question that new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who played B.C. every year at Notre Dame, pushed for this signing. He had 181 career receptions and 18 touchdowns and to me he could be the Chiefs fourth receiver in 2010.
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