Nick Athan: It has to be wide receiver and defensive tackle. There isn't any question that had John Henderson held his word to visit the Chiefs, he'd be at the center of the Kansas City defense. But the Raiders are potentially going to pay him $10 million in 2010 if he reaches certain incentives. So the Chiefs were wise to pass on Henderson.
They also need another speed receiver and my guess is that they'll find one in August at some point. But they'll be on the hunt for a defensive tackle and Pioli, if he feels a top notch one is available, will ship off a draft pick to get it done.
Conner Crawford: Just like last season, I see the Chiefs stocking up on wide receivers late in the preseason. Since Todd Haley has a knack for wide receivers dating back to his days coaching the position, he'll be looking to give Matt Cassel as many weapons as possible. He's always been an offensive-minded coach, and he'll keep on being that way.
On the defensive side, there could very well be a bunch of movement at the linebacker position, but I expect Derrick Johnson to be in the mix.
Michael Ash: Receiver and nose tackle are pretty clear choices. They could also be on the lookout for some backup offensive linemen, since the depth there isn't all that impressive. And it seems like they're always bringing in a new tight end, so we could certainly see another addition there.
If Dwayne Bowe continues to drop passes during training camp, will the staff demote him to situational/possession duty?
Nick Athan: Actually, he's been pretty solid after a few bad outings to start OTA sessions. The Chiefs have no choice but to keep him because their lack of punch at the receiver position isn't all that enticing.
This is Bowe's year. He wanted a new contract. The Chiefs tried to move him via trade but found no takers in each of the last two NFL Drafts. I can't see any scenario at this point that has him on the bench. Charlie Weis needs him and so does Matt Cassel. My guess is that he grows up and plays like an All Pro.
Bowe has to hang onto the ball.
Conner Crawford: It's hard to say. Bowe showed consistency in OTAs, but non-mandatory practices aren't NFL games, and they won't make up for his mediocre past few seasons.
I think a big factor in Bowe's future will also be how he performs off the field. Todd Haley made it clear that he wants character players for his "right 53", but Bowe isn't helping his chances for a roster spot by still bringing up the ESPN "importing" controversy. Instead of saying silly things to the media, Bowe needs to make his hands do the talking.
Michael Ash: Given a story that broke on Thursday, there may be a bigger problem afoot than dropped passes during practice. If you missed it, a report from Larry Fitzgerald's receiver camp said that Bowe showed up unprepared for the conditioning work, having taken the last 12 days off from his workouts. Let's be honest -- if Bowe said it was 12 days, it's probably closer to 24. That would mean Bowe, once again, has been sitting around after OTAs, ignoring his workouts and putting on weight. Can you imagine Haley's reaction when he heard this? He was probably pulling out fistfuls of hair. Hopefully, participating in this receiver camp can get Bowe back on track. But if he shows up to training camp out of shape again, there's no telling what the reaction may be. I'd be surprised if Bowe was demoted, but I can't say I'd be shocked if Haley was fed up enough to do it.
Who do we say is most responsible if KC's sack totals rise from 22 to 36 this year?
Nick Athan: Romeo Crennel. He still doesn't have a true dominating pass rusher, so it's going to have to be done by committee. My guess is that it'll be the schemes he comes up with that maximize the potential of the talent he has at his disposal. I do think guys like Alex Magee and Tyson Jackson will eventually be the stars of the defensive line. But right now his biggest challenge will be to get Glenn Dorsey to a level where he can actually sack the quarterback. For now the linebackers, corners and safeties will have to pitch in. But by adding Crennel, there isn't any doubt that this team can get 35-40 sacks.
Jackson must be a sackmaster this season.
Conner Crawford: Without a question, it's Tamba Hali. He was fully deserving of a reserve spot in the Pro Bowl last season and he's definitely living up to expectations and shedding Jared Allen's shadow.
Michael Ash: Barring an unexpected breakout performance from a particular player, I'd say that Crennel – the "Buddha of blitz packages" – would be most responsible. In all likelihood, he's going to need to be creative and manufacture a pass rush, or teams will just focus their efforts on stopping Hali.
For example, I think we can expect a fair amount of blitzes from the secondary this year. In college, Javier Arenas was very impressive at getting after the QB, and Eric Berry wasn't too bad either. Crennel is known for mixing and matching his blitz packages to keep the offense off-guard, and he'll definitely need to keep that up this year.
What is Jon Asamoah's role going to be when the season begins?
Nick Athan: If I were Todd Haley, I'd start Asamoah over Waters. But that's not going to happen. Waters has done an about face and there is talk that Asamoah might be groomed to become the starting center in 2011. I don't want to see that at all.
I think if the Chiefs place him next to left tackle Branden Albert that the left side will be locked down for the next decade. I said at the draft that he was the second rated Guard on the board and the Chiefs stole him in round three ala Will Shields.
Guard in 2010 or Center in 2011?
Conner Crawford: Asamoah might not become a starter this season, but he's surely going to be in the team's plans for the future. Ryan Lilja and Brian Waters are all-star players, but they won't be playing for the Chiefs forever. Asamoah may very well be a great replacement as a guard, or he could even be a good player to experiment with and put him at another spot on the offensive line.
Michael Ash: Barring an injury to one of the starters, the best bet is that Asamoah will be on the bench when the season starts. If he was to earn a starting job, I imagine it would involve beating out Lilja as opposed to Waters. The issue has fallen to the wayside in recent months, but the Colts aren't in the habit of releasing productive 28 year-old starters, and we still don't know if Lilja is physically capable of playing at the level he used to. If there's a potential opening for Asamoah, it's at right guard – which, coincidentally, is where he lined up in college.
Will the Chiefs' special teams unit be one of the NFL's best in 2010?
Nick Athan: With the additions of Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster to go along with kicker Ryan Succup and punter Dustin Colquitt, the Chiefs are set. The issue will be how the kick-off and punt return teams play on the field. The main players are solid but at times last year the tackling on special teams were abominable.
But a solid special teams unit can mean one or three more victories, so my guess is based on the added speed that we're going to get more bang out of the unit.
Colquitt is still a great weapon for KC.
Conner Crawford: With Javier Arenas and/or Dexter McCluster expected to return kicks and punts, they'll be forces to reckon with. However, much like how Dante Hall thrived in the past, the return man will need solid blocking in order to blaze towards the end-zone. In recent years, with the success from Hall and other returners like Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs, I think teams are putting much more focus on how to cover kickoffs and punts. Meanwhile, Ryan Succop is the kicker Chiefs fans have been dreaming of for the past several years, and Dustin Colquitt will continue to impress on punts. If the offense under Matt Cassel thrives, we should be seeing Succop and Colquitt kick less and have more time to rest their legs.
Michael Ash: The Chiefs made a quantum leap on special teams a year ago, going from 29th to 12th in Rick Gosselin's annual rankings. I think jumping into the top 5 would allow us to label them as one of the NFL's best. But can they really go from the bottom of the league to the top in a span of just two years?
To make it possible, it's going to require three things. First, Succop and Colquitt have to continue performing at a high level. Second, the Chiefs will need a solid improvement in the return game, which is obviously possible with Arenas and McCluster in the mix. Third, they'll need to make strides in their kick coverage.
It's the third one that will probably hold back their chances of getting into the top 5. But as Scott Pioli has noted in the past, when the quality of a team's roster improves, the first place it's usually noticeable is on special teams. So they might not be there in 2010, but as the Chiefs continue to add talent, maybe in another year or two they'll have all the players they need for an elite special teams unit.