RB Thomas Jones, WR Jerheme Urban, G Ryan Lilja, C Casey Wiegmann, NT Shaun Smith.
Early Draft Picks:
S Eric Berry, WR/KR Dexter McCluster, CB/KR Javier Arenas, G Jos Asamoah, TE Tony Moeaki, FS Kendrick Lewis, DE/OLB Cameron Sheffield.
RB Kolby Smith, WR Bobby Wade, G Mike Goff, G Andy Alleman, G/C Wade Smith.
2010 Kansas City Chiefs Offense:
Just because someone coaches or works for an NFL team doesn't mean that he has the slightest clue. The Chiefs had a special player in Jamaal Charles last season, yet Todd Haley stubbornly and foolishly refused to utilize him. A thesis was written on this Web site about how effective Kansas City's offense when Charles was on the field in one particular game. Haley finally gave in on Dec. 13, when Charles touched the ball more than 25 times in a contest for the first time all year.
In his final four games, Charles totaled 658 rushing yards (on a 7.0 YPC average), 13 receptions, 79 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Haley should have been fired for his poor decision-making (among other things). Seriously, how could it take him so long to realize how great of a weapon he had at his disposal when it was so painfully obvious to everyone else?
Kansas City's offense was undoubtedly better with Charles; Matt Cassel took just five sacks in those four contests, compared to 37 sacks in his previous 12 games. The Chiefs tallied 44 and 34 points in two of those four weeks.
Is this cause for optimism for the 2010 season? Unfortunately for the Kansas City fan base, no. The Chiefs' 34- and 44-point outputs came against the Browns and a Broncos team running on fumes. In the other two weeks, they scored just 20 total points versus Buffalo and Cincinnati. Kansas City's offense still has way too many holes.
The greatest void is at quarterback. Cassel is a fine backup-caliber player, but he is not a legitimate starting quarterback in this league. He has absolutely no arm strength, so opposing defenses don't have to respect the pass or cover all the areas of the football field. Furthermore, Cassel is not accurate (55.0 completion percentage in 2009) and takes too many sacks. He does have some positive traits, but they are vastly outweighed by the negatives.
Kansas City will never have an elite offense with the vastly overpaid Cassel at the helm. And it doesn't help that Cassel isn't protected well. Branden Albert is a pedestrian left tackle who commits way too many penalties and doesn't do a good job of keeping pass-rushers out of the backfield. Albert surrendered all seven of his sacks in the first 11 weeks of the season, but still gave up tons of pressures late in the year when the coaching staff forced Cassel to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. As a result, Cassel tossed 10 of his 16 interceptions in the final seven games. Albert's sack rate dropped, but at what cost?
Left guard Brian Waters is the Chiefs' best only good offensive lineman, and he's 33 so there's even some concern there. Center Rudy Niswanger isn't terrible, but right tackle Ryan O'Callaghan is a sieve as a pass-blocker. Right guard will be occupied by Ryan Lilja, who was waived by Indianapolis for health reasons (knee, back). Lilja is a good lineman, but the Colts aren't stupid; they got rid of him for a reason. It's reasonable to expect Lilja to suffer an injury early in the 2010 season, which would force rookie Jon Asamoah into the lineup.
Aside from Charles and Waters, the only solid player on Kansas City's offense is Dwayne Bowe, who appears to be working hard to offset his poor 2009 season. Bowe should rebound. He'll be joined in a receiving corps comprised of Chris Chambers and rookie Dexter McCluster. Little should be expected from the oft-lethargic Chambers because he just received a $12 million contract. McCluster, on the other hand, will be fun to watch. He's a versatile player who will line up all over the place (primarily in the slot).
Rookie tight end Tony Moeaki also has promise. Moeaki is very skilled and has impressed in minicamp, but he was always hurt at Iowa. The Chiefs likely won't be able to count on him.
2010 Kansas City Chiefs Defense:
It's pretty humorous that the Chiefs more than doubled their 2008 sack total in 2009, and yet only finished with 22 sacks last year. They once again had major issues getting to the quarterback; aside from Tamba Hali (8.5 sacks), no other Chief had the pleasure of knowing what the opposing signal-caller looked like.
The 2010 campaign won't be any different. Hali could flirt with double-digit sacks, but who else is going to apply consistent pressure on the quarterback? The ancient Mike Vrabel? Andy Studebaker? Perhaps Cameron Sheffield is the most optimistic option, but he's just a fifth-round rookie.
It's a shame the Chiefs continue to boast a horrific pass rush because the secondary is quite good. Corners Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr are a terrific tandem. Rookie strong safety Eric Berry projects as a Pro Bowl talent. Free safety Jarrad Page is the weakest link, but only because he's coming off a season-ending calf injury; he's a good player otherwise. Secondary depth will be an issue though, unless rookie Javier Arenas can step up.
Kansas City's defensive backfield is easily the team's greatest strength. The linebackers are mediocre, but the line is truly an abomination. The Chiefs continue to lack a legitimate nose tackle; Ron Edwards is undersized and weak against the run, while the newly signed Shaun Smith is a fat, lazy sloth.
Tyson Jackson, selected No. 3 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, was easily the league's worst starting defensive lineman last year. He can't possibly be worse in 2010, but he looked like a helpless child as a rookie. The other end, Glenn Dorsey, also struggled. Dorsey is simply too short to play in the 3-4, so his pedestrian output can be attributed to the coaching staff's inability to adapt a scheme to their players' strengths.
Speaking of which, bravo to Todd Haley for keeping his best interior linebacker, Derrick Johnson, on the bench all year. Despite playing well while being utilized, Johnson wasn't on the field for half the team's weekly defensive snaps until the finale, when he recorded two pick-sixes.
Common sense suggests that Johnson will actually play in 2010, but he is once again practicing with the second team during minicamp. If Haley decides to use the mediocre Demorrio Williams and downright horrific Corey Mays over Johnson this season, he should be deported.
2010 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule and Intangibles:
The Chiefs' personnel isn't much better this year, but one positive thing the front office did this offseason was bring in Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel as the offensive and defensive coordinators. Will they be enough to offset the horribly inept Todd Haley? Maybe just a little bit.
What happened to Arrowhead? Kansas City had an outstanding 71-25 home record between 1995 and 2006. However, under Herm Edwards and Haley, the Chiefs are 4-20 as hosts the past three years.
More Edwards and Haley Ineptness stats: Under the two coaches, the Chiefs are just 1-13 in their previous three Decembers. Hey Herm (and Haley), I thought you play to win the game? Hello!?
Jamaal Charles provided the Chiefs with their only return touchdown last season, but he likely will relinquish those duties to Dexter McCluster, who should be able to score once on special teams. Kansas City surrendered two return scores in 2009, so that needs to be fixed as well.
The 2009 NFL Draft's Mr. Irrelevant, Ryan Succop, failed to live up to his nickname, drilling 25-of-29 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 50-plus as a rookie. Punter Dustin Colquitt was also very good, maintaining a 45.4 average with 41-of-96 boots inside the 20.
Besides the Broncos and maybe Raiders, the Chiefs have a chance of beating: Cleveland (Week 2), Jacksonville (Week 7), Buffalo (Week 8), Arizona (Week 11), Seattle (Week 12) and St. Louis (Week 15).
2010 Kansas City Chiefs Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2010 Kansas City Chiefs Analysis: The Chiefs have no sense of direction right now. Their overpaid quarterback is terrible; the offensive line can't block; the defensive line is the league's worst; the pass rush doesn't exist; and the head coach is mind-numbingly clueless. Kansas City is easily one of the worst teams in the NFL, and because general manager Scott Pioli has dug this franchise into such a deep hole, it doesn't look like things will improve anytime soon.
To win consistently in the NFL, you need to have a quarterback, you need to protect your quarterback and you need to get to the other quarterback. Going into the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chiefs were 0-of-3 in those departments. Exiting the 2010 NFL Draft, they're still 0-of-3.
Sure, Scott Pioli obtained talented players. Eric Berry figures to be a Pro Bowl safety for years to come. Dexter McCluster will be an intriguing weapon on offense. Javier Arenas can return kicks. Tony Moeaki and Jon Asamoah were very good selections as well.
Unfortunately, the fact remains that the Chiefs still have no talent at the most important positions in football. I won't give them a terrible grade because they acquired talent, but they didn't really improve themselves much either.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: C+
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
5. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Eric Berry's probably going to be a stud, but taking a safety in the top five is a very questionable move. (Pick Grade: B)
36. Dexter McCluster, RB/WR/KR, Ole Miss
Dexter McCluster is a luxury pick. If some team with few needs wanted to take him in Round 2, that would have been fine. The Chiefs don't have that luxury because of all of their primary needs. (Pick Grade: C)
50. Javier Arenas, CB/KR, Alabama
The Chiefs just drafted a nickel corner and kick returner when they still have issues with quarterback protection and pass rush. Not a good weekend to be a Chiefs fan. (Pick Grade: C)
68. Jon Asamoah, G, Illinois
I'm going to ignore the whole Branden Albert issue here because Jon Asamoah is a skilled second-round prospect. Many had him as the No. 2 guard. The Chiefs had to improve the offensive line. (Pick Grade: A)
93. Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa
I'm a big Tony Moeaki fan - as long as he stays healthy. It always seemed like he was injured at Iowa. If he can stay on the field, he should be a great weapon for Matt Cassel. (Pick Grade: B)
136. Kendrick Lewis, FS, Ole Miss
A reach, but that doesn't matter much in Round 5. Kendrick Lewis fills a need, so this makes sense. (Pick Grade: C)
142. Cameron Sheffield, DE/OLB, Troy
Cameron Sheffield is a quality value here and fills a major position of need. The Chiefs have not been able to get to the quarterback for years. (Pick Grade: B)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Nathan Ivey, NT, Maryland
Bill Stull, QB, Pittsburgh
I think most of us can now confirm that handing out $63 million to noodle-armed quarterbacks doesn't work. Sadly, there are some who will still argue this. But just imagine if the Chiefs just selected Mark Sanchez at No. 3 overall and used their second-round choice on someone like Ziggy Hood (would have to trade up a few spots) or Rey Maualuga. You can say hindsight is 20-20, but several people actually mocked these players to Kansas City back in January.
Broncos claim RB Kolby Smith
Chiefs waive RB Kolby Smith
Chiefs waive QB Matt Gutierrez
Chiefs re-sign ILB Corey Mays
Chiefs re-sign QB Brodie Croyle
Chiefs re-sign OT Ryan O'Callaghan
Chiefs re-sign C Rudy Niswanger
Chiefs re-sign OT Barry Richardson
Chiefs re-sign CB Maurice Leggett
Chiefs re-sign FB Mike Cox
Chiefs re-sign ILB Derrick Johnson
Chiefs announce retirement of QB Quinn Gray
Chiefs sign G Ryan Lilja
Chiefs sign C Casey Wiegmann
Chiefs sign WR Jerheme Urban
Texans sign G/C Wade Smith
Chiefs sign DE/DT Shaun Smith
Chiefs sign RB Thomas Jones
Chiefs re-sign WR Chris Chambers
Colts sign G/C Andy Alleman
Chiefs tender RB Jackie Battle
Chiefs tender S Jarrad Page
Chiefs re-sign DE/OLB Mike Vrabel
Chiefs cut G Mike Goff
Left Tackle: Branden Albert didn't allow a sack in his final six games, so one would think that he really improved toward the end of the season. However, that's an incorrect assumption. Albert still allowed lots of pressures; his sack total was simply down because Matt Cassel released the ball quicker or just handed it off to Jamaal Charles. The left tackle position is still in desperate need of an upgrade, so Russell Okung is the likely pick at No. 5. Albert would then play guard, which would give the Chiefs two upgrades for the price of one.
Quarterback: This need obviously won't be addressed anytime soon because Matt Cassel is somehow the third-highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Think about that one for a second.
Nose Tackle: Ron Edwards is not a starting-caliber nose tackle. Terrence Cody and Cam Thomas will be considered atop Round 2 of the 2010 NFL Draft. Signed Shaun Smith
Rush Linebacker: The Chiefs had just 22 sacks in 2009, and 8.5 of them came from Tamba Hali. A pass-rusher might be added in the early rounds this April.
Center: Even when Kansas City's offensive line improved toward the end of the 2009 season, the center position was still a glaring weakness. An early pick will be used to upgrade Rudy Niswanger. Also, the addition of Russell Okung would push Brian Waters from guard to center. Make that three upgrades for the price of one. The No. 5 overall selection must be Okung. Signed Casey Wiegmann
No. 2 Wide Receiver: Chris Chambers was impressive last year since joining the Chiefs, but was likely just playing for a contract. I would not feel comfortable with Chambers as my No. 2 wideout. A receiver could be drafted in Rounds 3-4 this April. Re-signed Chris Chambers
Strong Safety: It was imperative that the Chiefs cut Bernard Pollard; he was too talented for their defense and room had to be made for veteran Mike Brown.
Free Safety: Can the Chiefs really go with the tandem of Jon McGraw, Jarrad Page and DaJuan Morgan at free safety again in 2010? Drafted Eric Berry
Defensive End: Despite all of the resources the Chiefs have used to upgrade their defensive line, they are still really hurting up front. Glenn Dorsey is a poor fit for the 3-4; Tyson Jackson had a horrible rookie campaign; and Alex Magee barely played. Kansas City will likely allow Dorsey, Jackson and Magee to grow together for another year, but it's not looking good at the moment.
Inside Linebacker: Position No. 439,129,695,238 that needs to be upgraded. Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays starting over Derrick Johnson? Seriously?
Right Guard: If the Chiefs take Russell Okung, they can move Branden Albert into this position (though he'll probably go to left guard, and Brian Waters would move to center). Drafted Jon Asamoah; signed Ryan Lilja
Slot Receiver: Lance Long and Bobby Wade aren't the answer in the slot. Drafted Dexter McCluster; signed Jerheme Urban
Return Specialist: Jamaal Charles won't be returning kicks anymore. Bobby Wade also needs to be upgraded as the punt-returner. Drafted Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster
Cornerback Depth: Yep, this is needed too. Drafted Javier Arenas
Power Running Back: Someone to complement the electrifying Jamaal Charles could be taken in the later rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. Signed Thomas Jones
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets. Age: 32. Signed with Chiefs (2 years, $5 million)
Thomas Jones would be a quality signing for one year. However, he's 32 and wore down at the end of last season. The tank is nearing empty.
Ryan Lilja, G, Colts. Age: 28. -- Signed with Chiefs (3 years)
Casey Wiegmann, C, Broncos. Age: 37. -- Signed with Chiefs (1 year)
Jerheme Urban (RFA), WR, Cardinals. Age: 29. -- Signed with Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Jan. 16): No cap.
Derrick Johnson (RFA), ILB, Chiefs. Age: 27. Re-signed with Chiefs (1 year, $2.6 million)
Derrick Johnson started only three games in 2009 because he was too talented for Todd Haley's defense. Johnson has absolutely no chance of starting in 2010 after his two pick-sixes against the Broncos in the season finale.
Ryan O'Callaghan (RFA), OT, Chiefs. Age: 27. Re-signed with Chiefs (1 year, $1.7 million)
Ryan O'Callaghan played very well down the stretch, but I'm not overly confident that he's the long-term answer at right tackle for the Chiefs.
Chris Chambers, WR, Chiefs. Age: 32. Re-signed with Chiefs (3 years, $15 million; $5.9 million guaranteed)
Being cut by the Chargers served as a wake-up call for Chris Chambers, who eclipsed the 70-yard barrier five times in nine games with the Chiefs. Having said that, I wouldn't be able to trust Chambers with a new contract.
Divisional Rival History: Denver Broncos: The home team always wins. Well, almost always. The host has claimed 14 of the previous 18 matchups. Oddly enough, the visitor won both contests in 2009. Oakland Raiders: Kansas City has dominated Oakland the past six years, claiming 11 of the past 14 games. Also note that the road team has won the previous seven meetings. San Diego Chargers: The host has been victorious in 17 of the previous 24 battles. San Diego has won the past five matchups.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)