2011 NFL Draft | Kansas City Chiefs Team Needs
The Kansas City Chiefs surprised a lot of people by going 10-6 and stealing the AFC West. However, they got rid of their offensive coordinator and found out in the playoffs that Matt Cassel may not be the long-term solution.
Cassel is still a guy the Chiefs can grow into a star quarterback, but he has had enough stinker games in his career to make you believe he’ll never fully put it all together. He’ll be there in 2011, but that doesn’t mean KC can’t start thinking toward the future. This team has a good amount of talent on both sides of the ball, but still has some holes to fill to become a consistent playoff contender.
With the Oakland Raiders on the rise and the San Diego Chargers likely to rebound in 2011, the Chiefs need to stay ahead of the curve with a good draft this year.
Biggest Needs: WR, OL, QB
You can gripe about Matt Cassel all you want, but the real problem may be that the Chiefs had only one truly reliable receiving option all season in 2010. Dwayne Bowe is a stud, but everyone else behind him just doesn’t scare the opposition.
If Cassel is their guy, the Chiefs need to do right by him and get another receiver that can take attention away from Bowe and really open up the passing game. Drafting Dexter McCluster to be a slot receiver didn’t really solve any problems, so KC needs to dream big and go after a really talented receiver this time around. They won’t spend their top pick on a skill player, but the second and third round both offer the opportunity to pick between a lot of talented options. Vincent Brown gives Cassel a speedy option opposite of Bowe in the second round, while Titus Young is another explosive option that could make an immediate impact. The Chiefs could also go for a bigger target to help in the red-zone and that can stretch the field, and Jonathan Baldwin makes perfect sense. If KC decides to wait until the third or fourth round, both Jeff Maehl and Austin Pettis could be available and would be excellent additions.
Before the Chiefs get Cassel and Bowe some help, they’ll need to make sure their current franchise passer is protected, first. That may mean taking an offensive tackle with their top pick. This is not a great class for elite tackles, but both Nate Solder and Derek Sherrod will be available when the Chiefs pick at 21, and both would serve as upgrades at either tackle position.
Another area that could be addressed, to a lesser degree, is running back. Jamaal Charles looks to be more than ready to take over as the lead back in 2011, but aging star Thomas Jones really fell apart down the stretch for the third straight season, and likely needs to be replaced. A power back like John Clay could be a nice addition in the middle rounds.
If the Chiefs have already decided Cassel isn’t the right guy, they could slow-play a passing of the torch and select their new passer in the second or third round. If a guy like Ryan Mallet or Jake Locker falls into the second, they may bite. If not, they can land a solid passer with great potential like Colin Kaepernick in the third round, or a safer option in Christian Ponder in the middle rounds.
Biggest Needs: OLB, FS, DT
Kansas City improved greatly on defense in 2011, but further improvement may hinge on retaining pass-rushing specialist Tamba Hali, as well as cover corner Brandon Carr. Even if the Chiefs to keep Hali around, they still need to upgrade over Mike Vrabel. If the Chiefs see this as more of a concern that addressing their offensive line early, Justin Houston seems to be a perfect fit for the outside of their 3-4. They could also wait until round two and nab Bruce Carter, or even round four, where the versatile Cliff Matthews could be available.
Free safety is another area of concern. While veteran Jon McGraw is a very safe and reliable option, he’s only getting older and is not an elite free safety. The Chiefs landed Eric Berry to shore up the strong safety position in 2010, and now need to find him a running mate. The Chiefs could reach for Rahim Moore to eradicate this need, but with bigger needs, they’ll likely aim for a better value pick in the middle rounds, where Robert Sands and Quinton Carter should be readily available.
Another position of need is at nose tackle in the 3-4, where Ron Edwards is solid, but not spectacular. Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson could be an excellent value pick in the third or fourth round, as he brings great versatility and excels against the run.
Overall, Kansas City is in pretty good shape, and simply needs to establish the direction they want to go. If they want to keep building with Matt Cassel, they need to address the offensive line and get him another receiving threat to help his growth. If not, they need to find their new passer in the second or third round and bolster their defense to aid the transition.