It’s an occurrence that’s happened just once in the history of the NFL: a franchise selects a player in the first round from the same university, three years in a row. That’s the scenario the Kansas City Chiefs have found themselves in the last three years as they tapped into the LSU pipeline to construct a rebuilding project that brought them wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (23rd overall in 2007), defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey (5th overall in 2008) and defensive end Tyson Jackson (3rd overall in 2009). This blueprint probably wasn’t by design; it’s just how the organizational flow chart was mapped. And when you browse the prospect landscape in Kansas City, all three players play a huge role in the Chiefs rebirth, and all deserve to be featured in the top five.
Of the three, Bowe is the most explosive and the one that has the best chance to become the top player in the league at his position, which is why he’s unquestionably the top prospect in the organization. Bowe has been the Chiefs’ best offensive weapon, despite not having a bonafide starting quarterback throwing him the ball. Even though there hasn’t been an elite quarterback behind center, Bowe has managed to catch 156 passes for 2,017 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first two seasons. But for Bowe to stay consistent and fulfill his ultimate promise, it was a priority for the Chiefs front office to supply the offense with a quarterback the team can trust, and newly hired General Manager Scott Pioli, formerly of the New England Patriots, traded for his guy, Matt Cassel. Entering his third year, Bowe has gotten off to a slow start under new head coach Todd Haley. In training camp, Bowe was demoted to the second and third team offensive unit, but to expect him to stay there when the season starts is a stretch. This could be an attempt to motivate Bowe at a time where players are trying to stay fresh and healthy. With Cassel at the helm, Bowe could easily exceed the 86-catch, 1,022-yard, seven-touchdown performance he put together in ’08 this season.
Before analyzing the other two LSU standouts, the second rated prospect in the organization is also a former first round pick, offensive tackle Branden Albert. At 6-foot-5, 316 pounds, Albert was a three-year starter at Virginia before declaring for the draft following his junior season. A versatile lineman who can play inside or outside, Albert found a home at left tackle in his first year in the league. Albert started 15 games and was inactive for one game during his rookie year at left tackle, and was a solid performer allowing just 4.5 sacks. Starting as a rookie and performing well will benefit Albert as he enters his second season. Albert’s development is extremely important to the team in ’09 as it will have a direct reflection on how well Cassel performs on offense. In New England, Cassel was fortunate to have a solid veteran group protecting him, and even though there are a couple of veterans upfront for the Chiefs, Albert is the key to his success.
A key to the success of Dorsey, the third rated prospect in the organization, will be the presence of the fourth rated prospect, Jackson. The two former linemates at LSU had a lot of success together while battling in the trenches in the Bayou, and pairing them together in Kansas City should bring out the best in both players. Jackson had his best season with the Tigers as a sophomore when he recorded 10 sacks while playing next to Dorsey. And Dorsey was a dominant force in college who had his share of ups and downs as a first year player in the league by posting 46 tackles and just one sack. Being drafted with the third pick overall this past April was a shock to most people, including myself, but Jackson’s game will remind you of a player Pioli is familiar with, Patriots DE Richard Seymour. Jackson is a versatile defender who can play inside or outside on the defensive line. He has outstanding size and a quick burst off the line. He’s strong at the point of attack and sheds blocks cleanly to make plays in the backfield. He has the quickness to beat the opposition off the edge or to dominate with his strength and technique. He lacks fluidity and doesn’t possess a large repertoire of moves, but he’s extremely effective upfront. With Jackson at left defensive end and Dorsey moving from tackle to right end in the Chiefs new 3-4 structure, the potential they have together is limitless, and that’s the reason why the Chiefs reunited the pair.
When the Chiefs drafted Brandon Carr in the fifth round last year, I’m sure everyone in Kansas City was wondering, “Who is this 6-foot, 207-pound cornerback from Grand Valley State?” Well, if you read my analysis leading up to the ’08 draft, you would have been a little more familiar with the next star corner in the league, as he made my All-Sleeper Defensive Team. From obscure to starter, Carr was an outstanding selection, and he and fellow rookie Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs sixth rated prospect, had solid rookie years. But as a team, the Chiefs struggled in pass defense, allowing 234 YPG through the air, which ranked 28th in the league. Carr started all 16 games as a rookie and finished with 73 tackles and two interceptions. Entering his second year, Carr will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to elevate his play to another level. At his size, he’ll always be a threat to defend the run, but it’s his pass defense that has to improve for him to become a star.
Rounding out the top 10 are the aforementioned Flowers at No. 6, strong safety Bernard Pollard at No. 7, quarterback Tyler Thigpen at No. 8, running back Jamaal Charles at No. 9 and tight end Brad Cottam at No. 10. Just missing the cut were defensive tackle Tank Tyler, safety DaJuan Morgan, defensive end Turk McBride and defensive tackle Alex Magee.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: email@example.com.