For years, the Detroit Lions have invested heavily in marquee positions such as wide receiver and quarterback while ignoring the foundation of their team, leading to years of disappointing draft picks and embarrassing play.
Former Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Carl Peterson was steadfast in the "build your foundation" philosophy. Much of Peterson's success was due to the investments made in the offensive line. Investing in players such as Will Shields, Willie Roaf, Tim Grunhard, and John Tait solidified the offensive line. With the foundation set, Peterson was free to add marquee players like Tony Gonzalez and Joe Montana.
There isn't much left from the Carl Peterson era in KC.
The Chiefs have invested significantly in marquee positions on the offensive side of the ball over the past two seasons with Matt Cassel, Thomas Jones, Chris Chambers, and even Charlie Weis. This leaves no questions about which side of the ball Scott Pioli and Todd Haley think will lead this team out of obscurity and into the playoffs. As Haley and Pioli know, however, this offense will not function without solid offensive line play.
In a draft that was widely considered the deepest for offensive lineman in years, the Chiefs opted to use their multiple high round picks (3 in the top 50) on marquee positions. With the selections of Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, and Javier Arenas, the Chiefs made a statement about their feeling towards the offensive line. By adding play-makers and ignoring foundational picks on the offensive line the Chiefs brass must believe this O-line unit is farther along them they displayed in ‘09.
But could this offensive line be that much improved from the cathartic line from last season?
Second tour of duty for Center Casey Wiegmann and the Chiefs.
The Chiefs added a major free agent lineman in Ryan Lilja and a very reliable veteran in Casey Wiegmann. With the returning Branden Albert and Brian Waters, and some young up-and-coming big men like Barry Richardson and Colin Brown, the Chiefs may have the beginnings of a solid foundation.
In my opinion, this is why the Chiefs put up with the malcontent Waters after his open display of frustration towards Pioli and Haley last offseason. With Waters, the Chiefs still have questions, but have a legitimate shot at some significant improvement on the line. Without him, they are doomed.
Placing bets on the rookie guard Jon Asamoah is just too risky for Pioli and Haley after investing so much in marquee players. Asamoah will be the starting right guard for the Chiefs at some point in the future. But for now, the one player that can take this young group from a terrible offensive line to a contending offensive line is NFL Man of the Year Brian Waters.