FB Chris Manderino, WR Devard Darling, TE John Paul Foschi, OT Anthony Alabi, OT Ken Shackleford, G Wade Smith, OLB Demorrio Williams, CB Jason Horton, K Nick Novak, KR B.J. Sams.
RB Jamaal Charles, WR William Franklin, WR Kevin Robinson, TE Brad Cottam, TE Mike Merritt, OT Barry Richardson, G Branden Albert, DE Brian Johnston, DT Glenn Dorsey, CB Brandon Flowers, CB Brandon Carr, FS DaJuan Morgan.
QB David Greene, FB Boomer Grigsby, WR Eddie Kennison, WR Samie Parker, TE Kris Wilson, OT Adrian Jones, OT Chris Terry, OT Chris Bober, G John Welbourn, C Casey Wiegmann, DE Jared Allen, DE Jimmy Wilkerson, OLB Keyaron Fox, OLB Kendrell Bell, S Ty Law, S Greg Wesley, K Billy Cundiff.
2008 Kansas City Chiefs Offense:
Once upon a time, the Chiefs had the most dominant offensive line in pro football. Willie Roaf and John Tait were prolific bookend tackles; Will Shields was one of the top guards in the league; while Brian Waters and Casey Wiegmann were also exceptional at left guard and center, respectively. So, how did their offensive front go from being so dynamic to surrendering 55 sacks and failing to open up any running lanes (3.3 yards per carry)?
Carl Peterson is to blame. He watched Roaf retire. He was there when Shields called it quits the following year. He let Tait defect for Chicago in free agency. He saw Wiegmann rapidly age (now 35). Waters is the only player remaining from that group. Peterson hadn't done a single positive thing to replenish the offensive front until obtaining Branden Albert with his second first-round selection in April's draft.
Albert, a natural guard, will play left tackle next year. Never mind the position switch; Albert has no experience and could initially struggle to protect Brodie Croyle's blind side. And the sad thing is, besides Waters, Albert will likely be Kansas City's top offensive lineman in 2008. Rudy Niswanger is OK at center, but the right side of the front is an abomination. Right tackle Damion McIntosh, a Miami Dolphins reject, is absolutely horrific, but even he is better than right guard Adrian Jones, perhaps the worst starting offensive lineman in the entire league.
Of course, the guys the front will be blocking for won't make them look good either. The front office and coaching staff are high on Brodie Croyle, which shouldn't be too encouraging because Peterson is an inept general manager, while Herm Edwards is one of the worst Xs-and-Os coaches in league history (though no one can question his motivational skills). I'll be shocked if Croyle develops into a mediocre signal caller. In six career starts, Croyle has more picks (8) than touchdowns (6). His completion percentage is 56.3. He had four fumbles last year. And more importantly, he has no career victories. Even if Edwards and Peterson are right about Croyle, he won't have much time to throw behind a terrible offensive line. If and when Kansas City has to turn to Damon Huard or Tyler Thigpen, fans should just start preparing for 2009.
Croyle, once again, will have only two solid targets at his disposal. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is going to have to carry this offense again. He had the third-best year of his career in 2007, catching 99 passes for 1,172 yards. However, Gonzalez just turned 32. He won't be slowed down yet, but his decline is quickly approaching. Croyle's other potent target is Dwayne Bowe, who surprisingly turned out to be the top rookie receiver last year. Bowe had 70 receptions, 995 yards and five touchdowns, and didn't even get going until Week 3.
Unfortunately for Croyle and the rest of the team, there's no one else in the receiving corps. One of Peterson's "big" signings was Devard Darling, who has career highs of 18 receptions, 326 yards and three touchdowns. Whoop dee doo. Fourth-round rookie William Franklin will be asked to contribute right away. The odds that the Chiefs drafted two consecutive Dwayne Bowes is slim to none.
Remember when I bashed Edwards a few paragraphs ago? Well, one of the dumbest things I've ever seen him do is single-handedly ruin Larry Johnson's career by giving him 416 carries in 2006. Prior to last season, I wrote that you should avoid Johnson in your fantasy leagues at all cost. Johnson missed eight games, and even when he was in the lineup, he struggled, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. Thanks to Edwards' foolishness and the ineptness of the Chiefs' offensive line, it's very unlikely Johnson bounces back in 2008. There's just too much wear and tear. Is rookie Jamaal Charles the answer if Johnson gets hurt again? I'm not sure, but I'm confident we'll find out before Thanksgiving.
Kansas City's offense was 31st in the NFL, averaging a mere 14.1 points per game. As you can tell, I won't be too surprised if they get bumped down to dead last, though the 49ers have some say in that.
2008 Kansas City Chiefs Defense:
It's hard to score points when you're not on the field, and that's another obstacle Kansas City's offense will have to overcome. The stop unit somehow ranked 14th in points allowed, but was 28th versus the run. The Chiefs consequently spent the No. 5 overall pick in the draft on Glenn Dorsey, who will be a dominant force in their interior line if he can stay healthy. I don't see Kansas City matching its 14th defensive seeding in 2008, however, and it doesn't really have anything to do with the big IF I talked about regarding Dorsey.
Jared Allen is gone. Regarded by many as the premier defensive end in the NFL, Allen had 16 sacks in 2007. I have no idea how the Chiefs are going to pressure the quarterback. They'll still have Tamba Hali, who was second on the team with eight sacks. But with Allen gone, Hali will face more double teams, as there is no potent rusher across from him. Turk McBride, a converted under tackle, will be the guy to initially take over for Allen. McBride has one career start and one career sack. Seventh-round rookie Brian Johnston will have a chance to win the job, though I don't see him contributing much, as first-year defensive ends seldom thrive in the NFL.
Going from 37 team sacks to about 22 is going to put a lot more pressure on Kansas City's secondary, which is in a bit of a transition phase. Safety Ty Law (he's done playing corner in this league) is gone. Corner Patrick Surtain, 32, seriously struggled in 2007, as it was painfully obvious that his prolific career is quickly coming to an end. Rookie Brandon Flowers, chosen in the second round, will undoubtedly struggle until he becomes accustomed to the speed of the NFL. Fifth-round rookie Brandon Carr will likely be the nickel unless he can beat Surtain out of a job. Given that Herm Edwards seems willing to go with all of his young players, there's a good chance Carr will get a lot of playing time. I'm not so sure that's a good thing, despite the fact that Surtain isn't setting the league on fire anymore.
At the very least, Kansas City's secondary will have some stability at the safety position. Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page started all but one game in 2007 and combined for five interceptions. Both are 23 years old, and will be the most experienced defensive backs the Chiefs will have if Surtain is relegated to the bench. I like Pollard. Rookie DaJuan Morgan could push Page at free safety.
I've talked about how flawed the Chiefs' defensive line and secondary is, so it should come as no surprise that the linebacking corps is a mess as well. Actually, let's scratch that. The linebacking corps, save for Derrick Johnson, is a mess. Johnson struggled early in his career with injuries, but had an exceptional 2007 campaign. He has to emerge as the leader of this defense with Allen and Law gone, and Surtain on his way out.
I don't want to call the battle for the middle linebacker position a "competition." Let's refer to it as a "contest to see who sucks less." The challengers are the completely horrendous Napoleon Harris and 35-year-old Donnie Edwards. My money is on Edwards, which speaks volumes about how terrible Harris is. If Edwards wins the job, Atlanta Falcons reject Demorrio Williams will start at weakside linebacker. If Harris is the man in the middle, Edwards will stay on the weak side.
Either way, I wouldn't expect anything but a bottom-10 ranking from Kansas City's extremely young defense. The only thing Chiefs fans should look for is improvement toward the end of the season.
2008 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule and Intangibles:
Kansas City has the largest disparity of weather in the NFL. In September, it's scorching hot and dry, while in December, it's very cold and wet. These factors added up to an outstanding 71-25 home record between 1995 and 2006. That has all changed. Under Herm Edwards, the Jets always played better on the road and usually struggled as hosts. The Chiefs' 2-6 home record in 2007 would indicate how much he has influenced this team. But don't get too excited - Kansas City was also 2-6 on the road. Awesome job, Herm. Way to turn Arrowhead into some practice facility.
More Edwards Ineptness stats: The weather disparity in Kansas City was the reason the team was at its best in September and December (28-16 and 30-22 from 1995 to 2006, respectively). The Chiefs were 2-2 in September this season, but finished with an 0-5 December. In fact, Kansas City's final victory came on Oct. 21, a 12-10 thriller at Oakland.
When Carl Peterson traded Dante Hall to the Rams, I asked who would be the new return specialist. The answer? No one. Eddie Drummond, Benny Sapp, Jeff Webb and Eddie Kennison all failed. Peterson brought in B.J. Sams via free agency and Kevin Robinson in the draft. I'm not excited about either. Sams tore his ACL in September, while Robinson lasted until the sixth round.
Another Peterson folly was drafting Justin Medlock over Mason Crosby. Crosby was seen as a superior kicking prospect last year, but Peterson felt the need to take Medlock, who didn't last long in the NFL. The Chiefs are now paying the price, as the three guys competing for the job are Billy Cundiff (out of the league in 2007), Nick Novak (also out of the NFL) and Connor Barth (undrafted rookie).
At least the punter is OK. Dustin Colquitt averaged a 45.5 average and nailed 27 kicks inside the opposing 20. Colquitt somehow booted a punt of 81 yards against the Chargers.
The Chiefs will battle a few beatable opponents, which should save them from a possible 0-16 campaign. They'll have a chance against the Raiders (Weeks 2 and 13), Falcons (Week 3), Panthers (Week 5), Jets (Week 8), Dolphins (Week 16) and Bengals (Week 17). The Patriots, Broncos, Titans, Chargers, Saints and Bills are in a different league.
2008 Kansas City Chiefs Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2008 Kansas City Chiefs Analysis: The Chiefs are obviously going through a rebuilding phase. The defense is really young, the offensive line isn't going to be much better than last year's unit, Larry Johnson may never be 100 percent again, while Brodie Croyle probably won't emerge as a starting NFL-caliber quarterback.
Oh yeah - don't forget that the Chiefs will be handicapped by Herm Edwards' horrendous play-calling. This team could conceivably go winless.
Projection: 3-13 (4th in AFC West)
2008 Fantasy Football Rankings:
Brodie Croyle: If you're really a believer in Brodie Croyle, take him in the final round of your draft. I just don't see it. Tyler Thigpen could be this team's quarterback by season's end.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 2,500 passing yards. 13 passing TDs. 30 rushing yards. 0 rushing TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 206.
Larry Johnson: I labeled Larry Johnson as a bust last year. This is what I wrote: "As I mentioned above, running backs who carry the ball more than 390 times in a single season have a tendency to break down. If you draft Johnson, be careful and make sure you have solid depth on your team. Furthermore, Johnson's average yards per carry, which dropped a full yard in 2006, could go down even further without Will Shields."
A season later, I still wouldn't recommend drafting Johnson. Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson combined to ruin his career; Edwards gave him a ridiculous 416 carries two years ago, while Peterson failed to upgrade a decaying offensive line.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 875 rushing yards. 300 receiving yards. 9 total TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 171.
Tony Gonzalez: There's a lot of value with Tony Gonzalez. He's aging, so fantasy owners are likely to pass him over in favor of someone else. Gonzalez had 99 receptions, 1,172 yards and five touchdowns last year. It'll be sad to see Gonzalez, 32, entering the twilight of his career with a terrible team, but if you have him on your fantasy team, I'm sure you won't be as upset.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 950 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 119.
Dwayne Bowe: Four years ago, an LSU receiver had a prolific rookie campaign. He had 80 catches, 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns. In the three seasons since then, 1,029 yards and one score. I'm talking about Michael Clayton. Last season, Dwayne Bowe, also from LSU, notched 70 receptions, 995 yards and five touchdowns. Let's hope Bowe's career doesn't continue to mirror Clayton's. I'm not saying it will, though I will say Bowe's numbers won't reach their maximum potential until the Chiefs have a solid quarterback under center.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 1,050 receiving yards. 7 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 147.
Devard Darling: Slated to be Kansas City's No. 2 receiver, Devard Darling hadn't done much in the NFL prior to last season. Darling didn't see much action until Week 11. He had 300 yards and three touchdowns the final seven games of the year. Not much to get excited about.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 600 receiving yards. 3 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 78.
Connor Barth: Connor Barth will be battling Nick Novak and Billy Cundiff for the kicking job. Given that Herm Edwards wants to go young, I have my money on Barth. Neither should be on your fantasy team.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 17-25 FG (0-1 50+). 27 XP.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 82.
Kansas City Defense: Don't even bother; you won't even get Jared Allen's sacks this year.
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Bottom 10 Defense.
2008 NFL Draft Grade:
The Chiefs' draft is regarded as one of the league's best, and I couldn't agree more with that assessment. I can't believe Glenn Dorsey fell to them at No. 5. I've gone on record saying I wouldn't draft Dorsey in the top five because of injury risks, but he was undoubtedly the best player available for Kansas City at a huge position of need. Carl Peterson had to pull the trigger ... The Jared Allen trade - which may have netted Kansas City another first-round pick in the top-heavy 2009 Draft - allowed them to obtain Branden Albert at 15. Albert, along with Barry Richardson at No. 170, figure to be solid upgrades for a woeful offensive line.
Another weak point on Kansas City's roster, the cornerback position, was remedied by the acquisition of Brandon Flowers in the second round. Flowers, once considered a top-20 prospect, fits Herman Edwards' defense perfectly ... Speaking of Edwards, he destroyed Larry Johnson's career by giving him 416 carries in 2006. Jamaal Charles was a great pick because Johnson could be done ... Other mid-round picks I was a fan of were Brad Cottam (future replacement for Tony Gonzalez), DaJuan Morgan and William Franklin ... Brian Johnston's an intriguing seventh-round selection. It wouldn't surprise me if he started as a rookie.
The Chiefs had tons of holes on their roster last year and didn't make any moves in free agency, so don't expect them to improve overnight, though this draft is a great start ... I'm concerned about some of the positions that weren't addressed. Carl Peterson should have added another prospect or two to the offensive front. Even with the acquisitions of Branden Albert and Barry Richardson, I still think Brodie Croyle's going to have shaky protection next year ... No defensive end till the seventh round? I hope Peterson's lackeys updated the depth chart for him after the Allen trade ... Another upgrade at corner wouldn't have hurt.
Grade give on 4/29/08: A-
5. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
The FBI should check if the Chiefs sent a suitcase of unmarked bills to Atlanta's war room during Draft Day. Thanks to the Falcons foolishly passing on Glenn Dorsey (and Sedrick Ellis for that matter), the Chiefs were able to obtain someone who is considered the top prospect in this class by many. (Pick Grade: A)
15. Branden Albert, G/OT, Virginia
On my next flight, I expect to see monsters outside the airplane window. When I celebrate my 80th birthday, I'll become a kid again. And I'll be prepared to travel through other eras and experience racism first hand. That's because we've entered the Twilight Zone. The Chiefs had a good draft? How is this possible? (Pick Grade: A)
35. Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
Kansas City goes 3-for-3. The team addressed all of its needs while taking the best players available. I'm almost positive some 12-year-old brat has Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards trapped in his imagination house. (Pick Grade: A)
72. Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas
Apparently the aliens who abducted Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards haven't returned them yet. Another great player acquired by the Chiefs. Edwards ruined Johnson's career with the 416 carries in 2006, so Jamaal Charles should see a lot of playing time in the near future. (Pick Grade: A)
76. Brad Cottam, TE, Tennessee
I thought the Chiefs would spend a third-rounder on a tight end, but they already used a luxury pick on a running back. They need to start addressing their offensive and defensive lines, as well as their receiving corps. (Pick Grade: C)
82. DaJuan Morgan, FS, N.C. State
Give Kansas City tons of credit - DaJuan Morgan could be the best free safety in this draft. He's a steal at 82. (Pick Grade: A)
105. William Franklin, WR, Missouri
An early third-round prospect in the fourth at a position of need? Seriously, who kidnapped Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson? This excellent draft was completely unexpected. (Pick Grade: A)
140. Brandon Carr, CB, Grand Valley State
Sort of a reach; I had Brandon Carr in the seventh round. But we're in the fifth round now, so this isn't as bad as it would have been in the fourth. This is a position of need. (Pick Grade: C)
170. Barry Richardson, OT, Clemson
Great pick. The Chiefs obtained a need and a fourth-round prospect in the sixth. (Pick Grade: A)
182. Kevin Robinson, WR, Utah State
This was the time to go quarterback. Why not Andre' Woodson? Have fun with Brodie Croyle. (Pick Grade: D)
210. Brian Johnston, DE, Gardner-Webb
Good to see Kansas City's great draft has extended to Round 7. Brian Johnston is a major steal and a fourth-round prospect. (Pick Grade: A)
239. Mike Merritt, TE, Central Florida
Not on my board, but it's the seventh round. (Pick Grade: C)
It's hard to believe the Chiefs were 3-3 at one point during the season. Then again, I guess a 1-9 collapse is to be expected from a team with a clueless coach and an overwhelmed general manager, who for some reason has completely neglected to fix the offensive line despite all of the retirements the team has endured.
Chiefs cut K Jay Feely (make up your damn minds)
Chiefs sign K Jay Feely
Chiefs cut DE Trevor Johnson
Chiefs cut FB Oliver Hoyte
Chiefs cut K Billy Cundiff
Chiefs cut QB David Greene
Chiefs cut S Greg Wesley
Chiefs sign DE Trevor Johnson
Chiefs sign CB Jason Horton
Chiefs sign OT Ken Shackleford
Chiefs trade DE Jared Allen to the Vikings for pick Nos. 17, 73, 82 and an exchange of sixth-round selections
Chiefs sign G Wade Smith
Chiefs sign TE John Paul Foschi
Chiefs sign FB Chris Manderino
Chiefs sign CB/KR B.J. Sams
Chiefs sign WR Devard Darling
Chiefs sign FB Oliver Hoyte
Chiefs sign K Nick Novak
Chiefs sign OLB Demorrio Williams
Chiefs re-sign P Dustin Colquitt
Chiefs cut OT Chris Bober
Chiefs cut OLB Kendrell Bell
Chiefs cut WR Eddie Kennison
Chiefs franchise DE Jared Allen
Chiefs cut G John Welbourn
Chiefs sign OT Anthony Alabi
Two Offensive Tackles: Role play. You're a GM of an NFL team. Your Hall of Fame left tackle retires. What do you do: A) Spend a lot of your resources in an attempt to find a replacement at left tackle. B) Reach for crappy defensive tackles in the second and third rounds of the draft. C) Put tons of gel in your hair and make yourself look smart. D) Hire the worst Xs-and-Os coach in the NFL? The logical answer is A, but not in Kansas City. Jake Long could be theirs at No. 5 overall. Another tackle will come later. Drafted Barry Richardson; signed Ken Shackleford
Right Guard: Just repeat whatever I said in my previous write-up, replacing "left tackle" with "right guard." Drafted Branden Albert; signed Wade Smith
Defensive End: Jared Allen was traded, so Kansas City has to compensate with a draft choice. Drafted Brian Johnston; signed Trevor Johnson
Center: Surprise, surprise, the Chiefs need offensive line help here too. Mid-round draft pick.
Two Cornerbacks: Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are as good as gone, which will only worsen a miserable Kansas City defense. A cornerback like DeJuan Tribble or Dwight Lowery could be a nice addition in Round 3. Drafted Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr; signed Will Poole and Jason Horton
Wide Receiver: Take away Dwayne Bowe, and the Chiefs have soon-to-be-cut Eddie Kennison, Jeff Webb and Samie Parker at receiver. Give it up for Carl Peterson, collector of NFL garbage and retreads. Early Doucet could be available at the beginning of Round 2. Signed Devard Darling; drafted William Franklin and Kevin Robinson
Two Linebackers: Napoleon Harris, a journeyman retread, is part of the reason Kansas City was so inept versus the run in 2007. Donnie Edwards, meanwhile, turns 35 in April. I have no idea how the Chiefs are going to fix Carl Peterson's mess. Signed Demorrio Williams
Defensive Tackle: The Chiefs were ranked 28th versus the run. They have Tank Tyler waiting in the wings, but the fact that he couldn't breach the starting lineup is troubling. Drafted Glenn Dorsey
Kicker: When your starting kicker is 5,042 years old, changes have to be made. Way to pass on Mason Crosby in favor of Justin Medlock, Carl Peterson. Signed Nick Novak and Jay Feely
Return Specialist: Eddie Drummond was ineffective as a return specialist. Kansas City needs its next Dante Hall. Signed B.J. Sams
Quarterback: Brodie Croyle hasn't looked too impressive thus far. I know he's young; his offensive line has sucked (thanks, Carl Peterson); and the receiving corps, outside of Dwayne Bowe is dreadful, but I never liked Croyle to begin with. The Chiefs probably won't be looking for a quarterback this offseason, but if Matt Ryan or Brian Brohm falls to them atop the second round, they may not hesitate.
Kansas City Chiefs Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 23): $20.27 million
Jared Allen, DE. Age: 26. Chiefs franchise Jared Allen
Despite missing two games, Jared Allen still managed to lead the NFL in sacks (15.5). He'll only be 26 in April, so he deserves a huge contract. The Chiefs will likely franchise him.
Kris Wilson, FB/TE. Age: 27. - Signed with Eagles (3 years)
Rudy Niswanger (ERFA), C. Age: 25.
Keyaron Fox, OLB. Age: 26. - Signed with Steelers (1 year, $645,000)
Eddie Kennison, WR. Age: 35.
Boomer Grigsby (RFA), FB. Age: 26. - Signed with Dolphins
Adrian Jones, OT. Age: 27.
Samie Parker, WR. Age: 27. - Signed with Broncos (1 year, $645,000)
Jimmy Wilkerson, DE. Age: 27. - Signed with Buccaneers
Kendrell Bell, OLB. Age 30.
John Welbourn, G. Age: 32. - Signed with Patriots
Trevor Johnson, DE. Age: 27.
Chris Terry, OT. Age: 33.
Chris Bober, OT. Age: 31.
Casey Wiegmann, C. Age: 35. - Signed with Broncos (2 years)
Oliver Hoyte, FB. Age: 23.
Billy Cundiff, K. Age: 28.
Will Poole, CB. Age: 27.
David Greene, QB. Age: 26.
Divisional Rival History: Denver Broncos: The home team always wins. Well, almost always. The host has claimed 12 of the previous 14 contests. Oakland Raiders: Kansas City has dominated Oakland the past five years, claiming nine of the past 10 games. San Diego Chargers: Going into the 2007 season, the host had been victorious in 15 of the previous 18 battles, while eight of the last 11 had been decided by five points or less. So, you can say I was a bit shocked when each visitor blew out the host last year.