After much debate, I've elected to break down the upcoming NFL Draft in a round-by-round basis. I have a lot of thoughts to try and formulate before the extravaganza begins, and have my own little war room set up to properly capture the atmosphere. The Draft is always so hard to predict or preview in any way due to the numerous variables. I will be trying to separate what I think we will do, what I think we should do, and what I wouldn't like to see us do.
Overall Draft Philosophy- Looking at what the Chiefs have going into next year, I will mostly be looking at the second half of the 2009 season. The offense was much improved once they gained comfort in the system, while the defense remained pretty porous throughout the year. This screams a lack of talent. On top of this, most of the free agents acquired this offseason were on the offensive side. The defense must be addressed in this draft. I believe three of the top four picks (Top 68 overall) need to be spent on defense. I also believe that the top four picks should all come from the following eight positions.
My Position Needs List:
1. Outside Linebacker- Most important position (in the 3-4) besides Quarterback. Need to find someone in the second round.
2. Safety- Jarrad Page (don't forget him) and nobody else. Could be Eric Berry in the first or someone else in the second round.
3. Wide Receiver (Returner)- A rookie combined with Free Agent Jerheme Urban would be sufficient. Second round is chalk full of receivers.
4. Nose Tackle- Free Agent Shaun Smith and Ron Edwards form a decent duo. Terrence Cody is the most likely potential draft pick in the second round.
5. Center- Not sold on Casey Wiegmann or Rudy Niswanger. Possibly Maurkice Pouncey if he slides to the second (which he shouldn't) but not too much else.
1. Middle Linebacker- Decent talent that could use upgrade, meaning draft someone if you like them.
2. Offensive Tackle- All comes down to Branden Albert decision (more on that later). Right Tackle could use an upgrade.
3. Tight End- Do we have one?
First Round Possibilities assuming first 4 picks go according to plan, like so: 1. Sam Bradford, 2. Ndamukong Suh (sorry KC Star), 3. Gerald McCoy, 4. Russell Okung:
Eric Berry- The best player filling the biggest need. Makes the most sense. Would take a disliking for his game, or a lack of appreciation for his position to not make him the selection. He is the only player that equals proper value and fits a top position of need. Could become the face of the defense. Great safeties and great defenses go hand and hand. The two best defensive teams of the last ten years have been the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The two best safeties of the last ten years are Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. Boom. Grade: A-
Bryan Bulaga- His name has come out of nowhere due to people being fond of a so-called Scott Pioli-Kirk Ferentz relationship. His late rising up draft boards discourages me. It almost seems similar to Tyson Jackson last year. I tend to like players that are rated highest at the conclusion of the season because that's when they're actually playing games. I'm not sure if the Offensive Tackle projectors see Branden Albert staying at Left Tackle or sliding over to Right Tackle, but that will be the biggest decision the Chiefs face this offseason, and we will know the answer immediately following the Draft. Grade: D
(Branden Albert)- Facts: Played mostly guard in college. Was very good Left Tackle his rookie season in 2008. Lost a lot of weight in 2009 Training Camp. Severely struggled the first half of 2009. His play improved as 2009 went on. I don't see enough there to warrant a position change. Neither does Brian Waters, "I think Branden's got the worst wrap out of anyone on our football team in the last two years," he said. "Without a shadow of a doubt he's a left tackle." I would trust Brian Waters. He is extremely smart and has been a major part of terrific offensive lines. The argument for sliding him over and drafting a new Left Tackle in the first round is that the offensive line, as a whole, would presumably become a strength. This is making assumptions that Albert would adjust to the right side, and that the draft pick would be better than Albert. It doesn't add up to me. Not when the team's other needs are so clearly defined.
Trent Williams- Much of the same argument for Bulaga applies to Williams, although I like Williams a little bit more. I feel like he will make a few Pro Bowls, while Baluga will be a bust, and Okung will be somewhere in the middle. And with nothing more interesting to say, a look at the NFL Lineman from Iowa and Oklahoma who played in the league last year:
G Robert Gallery, 1st Round, 75 Career Starts
G Seth Olsen, 4th Round, 0 Career Starts (2nd year)
G Eric Steinbach, 2nd Round, 92 Career Starts
C Casey Wiegmann- Undrafted, 168 Career Starts (Not under Kirk Ferentz- Erroneous)
G Marshal Yanda, 3rd Round, 26 Career Starts (4th year)
T Jammal Brown, 1st Round, 58 Career Starts, 2 Pro Bowls
C Chris Chester, 2nd Round, 9 Career Starts
G Davin Joseph, 1st Round, 54 Career Starts, 1 Pro Bowl
T Phil Loadholt, 2nd Round, 9 Career Starts (1st year)
G Duke Robinson, 5th Round, 0 Career Starts (2nd year)
Two things pop out at me from this list, both negatives about Iowa's history. Robert Gallery was a top pick and a bust, but has gone on to become a decent guard since. Also, there are no current NFL Tackles from Iowa. I have watched the potential linemen draftees play very little, so I'm going with what I do know, and that seems to favor Williams of the two. Grade: C+
Jimmer Clausen- If we pass on Clausen and are bad again this year, then we will have had four terrible seasons in a row with a new quarterback search likely under way. We will have had three Top 5 picks in a row, with no effort made at drafting a "Franchise Quarterback." Can we go on with never taking that chance? We'd be all but locked in to selecting one in the Top 5 next year, which isn't a terrible thing, but it does push you back yet another year. So, the question is how much do you trust Matt Cassel? I do, but (there's definitely a but) I wouldn't try to change Charlie Weis' mind if he was convinced. Grade: B-
What will happen- It seems to me the selection is Eric Berry unless we find someone aggressively trying to trade up, which is very possible. There are teams that will covet Berry and/or Clausen. With a trade down, almost anything is possible. We could go Rolando McClain (LB, Bama, Grade: A) or Dan Williams (NT, Tenn, Grade: C), both of whom I'd rather draft than a Tackle. Or you take Berry or Clausen if they remain, or even whatever Tackle is left. But, when it comes down to it, our card on the way up, the name on it will read Eric Berry. We know Knowshon is excited...