Draft Grades: Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs gambled early and often in this class, focusing on players with high upside despite minimal on-field production in college. It’s a bold strategy, and Scott Pioli is putting his job on the line. If these draft classes don’t pan out, he’ll be on the hot seat in a year or two.

Dontari Poe is a classic boom-or-bust prospect. It’s impossible to overlook his measurables, but it’s equally tough to ignore his lack of production at Memphis. The Chiefs could prove to be an ideal landing spot for him though. Romeo Crennel has a strong track record developing nose tackles, working with Vince Wilfork in New England and Shaun Rogers in Cleveland. He’s a true player’s coach, and should be able to keep Poe motivated.

Jeff Allen was considered a 2nd-round pick by many, but it feels like a reach to me. He primarily played tackle at Illinois, rotating between left and right tackle in every game. That type of versatility is intriguing, but his athleticism is limited and he’ll be limited to right tackle or guard at the next level. I’d be more comfortable with the selection of Allen if he filled a need, but the Chiefs don’t appear to have any immediate openings on the offensive.

Donald Stephenson has the measurables to play left tackle in the pros but he, like Poe, showed limited production in college. Given his upside, the Chiefs will likely groom him behind Branden Albert. He may take a year or two to reach his full potential, but he does have a chance to take over a starting job down the road.

Devon Wylie is an elite deep threat, who was a solid value in the 4th round. He’s as fast and explosive as any receiver in this class and has the potential to make an impact in a limited role immediately, and potentially on special teams as well. However, Wylie also has an extensive injury history and has struggled to stay on the field.

De’Quan Menzie played corner at Alabama but is a candidate to shift to free safety in the pros. He lacks the speed to be consistently effective in coverage, but does have the size and ability in run support to play safety. However, the Chiefs secondary is crowded. He’ll need to prove his worth on special teams in order to win a roster spot.

The selection of Cyrus Gray was questionable, even the 6th round. While there’s no denying he was worthy of a 6th-round pick, it’s tough to see how he fits into the Chiefs plan. Peyton Hillis, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster are guaranteed roster spots, which makes Gray a long shot to make the final roster cut.

Jerome Long is a developmental prospect. He’ll likely be moved to to end in the Chiefs 3-4 defense but he’ll have to fight with Brandon Bair and others for a spot on the roster.

Junior Hemingway is a decent developmental prospect in the 7th round. He has the measurables and turned in some impressive workouts this offseason. He has limited experience in a pro-style offense, however, which limited his growth as a receiver. He’s definitely a candidate to be one of the steals from the 7th round.

Like their 1st-round pick, this was a boom-or-bust draft class for the Chiefs. Poe is the only prospect who will start immediately, and even he is developmental propsect who may struggle early on his career. While this draft class has the potential to produce three or four starters, there are no slam dunks. This could prove to be a critical draft class for Scott Piolo. Either he hits a home run and the Chiefs become serious contenders, or each of these prospects fails to live up their potential and Pioli finds himself on the hot seat.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chiefs, Draft Grades - 2012 1 Comment

Kansas City Chiefs select Jeff Allen, Grade D

This was a reach by the Kansas City Chiefs. They definitely needed to address the offensive line, but Jeff Allen is sloppy and makes far too many rookie mistakes for a guy who was a four-year starter.

Illinois used him in an odd role, shifting him between left and right tackle throughout the course of the game. Despite his experience at tackle, he lacks the athleticism to play tackle in the pros and should be shifted inside to guard. Regardless of where he plays, Allen needs time to develop and won’t be an impact player for the Chiefs in 2012.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off

Kansas City Chiefs select Dontari Poe, Grade B

The Kansas City Chiefs are rolling the dice on Dontari Poe, but I love the fit.

Poe didn’t play like a top-15 pick last year, but he absolutely has the size/athleticism combo to be a stud at nose tackle. While I wouldn’t be crazy about some other teams taking him this high, I trust Romeo Crennel to groom him into a quality nose tackle. Crennel worked with Vince Wilfork early in his career, and got briefly rejuvenated Shaun Rogers career by turning him into a nice tackle in Cleveland as well.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off

Draft Needs: Kansas City Chiefs

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs [full archive here].

Season Recap: The Kansas City Chiefs fielded a talented team in 2010, and expectations were high entering 2011. Within the first two weeks of the season, key players Jamal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moekai went on injured reserve, forcing less talented players into the lineup. The roster did not have enough depth to compensate for the losses, and finished the season 7-9. Romeo Crennel showed enough during his time as interim-Head Coach and was hired full-time this offseason. With the return of Charles, Berry, and Moekai, the Chiefs will be improved in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Nose Tackle: In the 3-4 defense having a significant presence at nose tackle is a must. Romeo Crennel coached Vince Wilfork in New England and will surely be looking for a player to replicate his impact. That won’t be easy, but Dontari Poe has all the tools to become a dominating defensive player in the NFL. There are questions about Poe’s limited production at Memphis, but a 6’4’’ 346lb player who ran a 4.98 40-yard dash and posted 44 bench reps, may be too valuable to pass up.

2. Inside Linebacker: The Chiefs have three starting linebackers in Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, and Justin Houston but are lacking a fourth. Luke Kuechly is the best LB in the draft and would be a no-brainer selection, but he may not be available. Bobby Wagner and Travis Lewis are players that will likely be available in rounds two and three.

3. Quarterback: The Chiefs signed Matt Cassel to a six-year $62.7 million contract in 2009, but Cassel has yet to show the “elite” talent, that now seems to be a must for teams looking to make a Super Bowl run. With Romeo Crennel taking over, there may be some members within the organization looking to find a new guy. Ryan Tannehill will be the third quarterback off the board, and the Chiefs could decide to trade up and grab him.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Chiefs, Draft Needs - 2012 2 Comments

5 teams that will draft a quarterback

1. Indianapolis Colts/Washington Redskins
This is a done deal, so I’ll group these teams together.  We know that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are headed to Indy and Washington, respectively. But I will add this, don’t be surprised if Colts draft another quarterback to compete for the backup job with Drew Stanton. They own six picks in the final three rounds of the draft, and could add a guy like Russell Wilson or B.J. Coleman late in the draft.

2. Miami Dolphins
I’m not convinced the Dolphins will take Ryan Tannehill, but they will draft someone to compete with Matt Moore for the starting job. If they pass on Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins could be options on Day Two.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are another candidate to land Tannehill. But even if they miss out on the Texas A&M signal caller, they’re likely to bring in someone to groom as Matt Cassel’s replacement in the 2nd or 3rd round.

4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns will have the first crack at Tannehill, but they’re unlikely to pull the trigger at No. 4. In fact, the Browns may simply chose to stick with McCoy and pass on most of the top signal callers in this draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find someone. Mike Holmgren is a quarterback guru, and is likely to pick out someone in the 3rd round or later that he would like to develop.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Obviously the Steelers aren’t in the Tannehill sweepstakes, but they’re also unlikely to enter the 2012 season with Jerrod Johnson and Troy Smith as Roethlisberger’s backups. Look for them to add a quarterback at some point, potentially as a early as the 3rd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Colts, Dolphins, Redskins, Steelers Comments Off

Chiefs likely to draft QB early

The Kansas City Chiefs paid good money to bring Matt Cassel into the fold in 2009, but three years into his tenure he’s shown limited improvement. Now, with three years and just over $21M remaining on his contract, the Chiefs are starting to look for his eventual replacement.

The Chiefs have already arranged visits with Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler, each of whom should come off the board no later than the 3rd round.

While I am generally against Ryan Tannehill going in the 1st round, the Chiefs would be a good fit. Tannehill is still learning the position and getting thrust into a starting role could be detrimental to his long-term development. In Kansas City, however, there will be no pressure to play right away. The Chiefs could stick with Cassel for at least one more year, if not longer.

Cousins and Osweiler are Day 2 prospects, who the Chiefs may consider in the early 2nd round. Cousins is more ready to play immediately, but Osweiler has the higher ceiling.

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Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off

2011 Draft Grades: Kansas City Chiefs

Maybe Scott Pioli had less of a say in the Patriots draft plans than we all assumed. In his first draft with the Kansas City Chiefs he selected safety in top 10 (very un-Belichick-like) and this year he reached for a receiver in the 1st round (even more un-Belichick-like).

The selection of Jonathan Baldwin was one of the most confusing of the 1st round. There’s no denying his talent, but I see no reason to spend a 1st-round pick on a player who only shows up when he wants to. If a guy has that type of attitude while playing in the Big East, what leads you to believe he’ll change in the NFL? Baldwin will make some big plays here and there, but he’ll also drive coaches and fans crazy by failing to show up in big moments.

Rodney Hudson was a much safer and much more Belichick-like pick in the 2nd round. If Rudy Niswanger is not re-signed, Hudson could start from day one at center.

Justin Houston was viewed as a potential 1st-round prospect but fell, in part, due to his positive marijuana test at the combine. Kansas City is truly the perfect fit for him. His defensive coordinator at Georgia, Todd Grantham, coached under his new defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel, in Cleveland. That connection undoubtedly played a role in this selection.

Allen Bailey is another talented but terribly inconsistent player. He has the potential to start at the next level, but he needs to show a more consistent effort on the field.

Jalil Brown is slightly overrated in my opinion, but I will say this: he’s battle tested. Opponents looked to avoid Jimmy Smith over the post few seasons and often threw in Brown’s direction. His upside may be limited, but he’s ready to contribute in some capacity as a rookie.

Ricky Stanzi is a nice developmental prospect for the Chiefs. Matt Cassel has been good but not great thus far in Kansas City, and the Chiefs are preparing for the possibility that they may be interested in an upgrade at the position in another year or two.

Gabe Miller is likely nothing more than a special teams player who was a reach in the 5th round. He’ll have to fight to make the final roster cut.

Jerrell Powe fell much further than I expected and is a great fit in Kansas City. Due simply to a lack of other options at the position, Powe could be in line for the starting job at nose tackle.

Shane Bannon will be given an opportunity to win the starting fullback job. If loses the battle, it’s unlikely that he’ll be kept on the roster.

This was a boom-or-bust draft class for the Chiefs. The only slam dunk pick was Rodney Hudson, who at worst should be an adequate starter on the offensive line. If everyone else plays up to their full potential, however, they could have as many as four long-term starters. But that’s a big if considering the question marks surrounding Baldwin, Houston and Bailey.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chiefs, Draft Grades - 2011 1 Comment

Top 10 Draft Day Decision Makers

10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)

9.  Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Titans 1 Comment

Will Rackley drawing interest from nine teams

Rackley is one of the top small-school prospects

According to Josh Buchanan of Lehigh offensive lineman Will Rackley is lining up a number of visits and private workouts.

He’ll be one of the busiest prospects over the next month, as he meets with the Browns, Cowboys, Rams, Chiefs, Dolphins, Lions, Jaguars, Patriots and Jets.

Rackley played left tackle in college but is probably best suited for guard at the next level. That said, his potential versatility certainly gives his stock an extra boost.

Based on the amount of interest in Rackley he is starting to look like a pretty safe bet to go in the first three rounds. A team like the Cleveland Browns, who could use help at both right guard and right tackle would be a good fit. The St. Louis Rams, who desperately need to upgrade their interior line would also make sense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Patriots, Rams Comments Off

Draft Needs: Kansas City Chiefs

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs [full archive here].

Season Recap – Similar to the Bucs, the Kansas City Chiefs had a much better season then most people predicted. After picking Eric Berry fifth overall in 2010, Scott Pioli showed many why he was such an important hire. Coming from New England, Pioli knows talent and is very successful at the draft. Matt Cassel had a pro-bowl season and Jamal Charles was second in the league in rushing yards. Losing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will hurt, but previous offensive line coach, Bill Muir, is a capable replacement.

1. Outside Linebacker
- AFC sack leader, Tamba Hali was scheduled for free agency, but was franchised. Hali has developed into one of the top 3-4 OLB’s but doesn’t have much help. Mike Vrabel failed to record a sack and at 35, along with becoming a free agent, it seems Kansas City will have a new starter in 2011. Justin Houston has been linked to the Chiefs in round one, but I don’t think he’ll be available. Brooks Reed would be a good fit. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Chiefs, Draft Needs - 2011 Comments Off