2016 NFL Offseason: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs (Last Year: 11-5)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Rod Streater, OT Mitchell Schwartz, DE/OLB Andy Mulumba, S Stevie Brown, S Jimmy Wilson.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/DT Chris Jones, CB KeiVarae Russell, OT/G Parker Ehinger, CB Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson. Chiefs Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Chase Daniel, OT Donald Stephenson, G Jeff Allen, G Ben Grubbs, DE/DT Mike DeVito, CB Sean Smith, S Husain Abdullah, S Tyvon Branch.

2016 Kansas City Chiefs Offense:
Eleven touchdown passes thrown to wide receivers is usually a typical month for some of the elite quarterbacks, but it took Alex Smith the entire 2015 campaign to do this. Of course, this was a marked improvement over the doughnut he posted in that category the year before. The league’s most mediocre quarterback hasn’t gotten better; rather, the talent level around him improved.

The main difference in 2015 was Jeremy Maclin, who was signed over from Philadelphia for a 5-year, $55 million contract, Maclin proved his worth by catching 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight of the 11 aforementioned touchdowns. He did this despite constantly seeing double teams, as Kansas City didn’t have any other aerial weapons aside from Travis Kelce. The dynamic tight end snatched 72 balls for 875 yards and five touchdowns. He hurt the Chiefs with some drops, but overall is worth the 5-year, $46 million haul he received this offseason.

Maclin and Kelce are great weapons to own in a passing offense, but the Chiefs needed to add someone else this offseason. They failed to accomplish this, only spending third-day choices on some receivers, including Demarcus Robinson. The pedestrian Albert Wilson and the raw Chris Conley will battle for the starting job across from Maclin as a consequence. Conley logged 17 receptions as a rookie, but has a chance to experience a big uptick in his second season. He lived and trained with Maclin during the offseason, which could really help the 2015 third-rounder put together a solid sophomore campaign.

Of course, much of Kansas City’s offensive production comes via the ground attack. That was put to the test when Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in October, but Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware proved to be viable replacements. Charles will be back in charge of the backfield, though it’s expected that West and Ware will eat into the workload. This is a good thing, as it’ll keep Charles fresh for a potential playoff run.

It’s not surprising that West and Ware rushed the ball so effectively, given that the offensive line was so forceful this past season. Guard Jeff Allen was mysteriously out of the lineup to begin the year, but Andy Reid was eventually forced to rectify that mistake. Allen was huge, performing as one of the top guards in the NFL. Rookie center Mitch Morse was also solid. However, Allen left via free agency – and understandably so, given how poorly he was treated – leaving a gaping void in the interior of the front. Fourth-round rookie Parker Ehinger could win the job, but it could also be Jarrod Pughsley, who barely played last year.

The tackle situation is at least better. It was a mess this past season, as Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson both struggled until Jah Reid took over for the latter and wasn’t any better. The Chiefs remedied this by signing Mitchell Schwartz away from the Browns. Schwartz has been one of the better right tackles in the NFL over the past couple of years, so he should help compensate for the loss of Allen.

2016 Kansas City Chiefs Defense:
It’s amazing that two stud players can make such a difference. The Chiefs were very porous against the run in 2014, but improved to sport one of the top all-around defenses this past season. Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry returning from various maladies did a great job of sparking Kansas City’s stop unit.

Berry’s return wasn’t expected by some, as he was fighting lymphoma. Most weren’t sure if he’d even be able to play this past year, but he was able to take the field and dominate. Berry was one of the league’s top safeties in 2015, which is truly remarkable after what he has endured. Berry and Husain Abdullah proved to be a dynamic tandem at the position, and throwing deep on the Chiefs was very difficult as a result. Abdullah, however, has retired after sustaining a string of concussions, so this looks to be a problem area. One of Jamell Fleming or Stevie Brown will have to step in as a replacement. Perhaps Brown can rekindle the magic he enjoyed with the Giants several seasons ago before injuries derailed his career.

Abdullah wasn’t the only departure in the secondary. Sean Smith, who performed remarkably last year, signed with the Raiders. The Chiefs still have Marcus Peters, who enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign in 2015, but it’s currently unclear who will start across from him. Phillip Gaines might be the leader in the clubhouse at this juncture, but he’s just mediocre. Rookies KeiVarae Russell and Eric Murray, chosen in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, will have a shot to win the job.

Moving on to Johnson, he was shockingly dynamic despite coming off a torn Achilles. It’s not normal that a 33-year-old performs that well coming off such a brutal injury, but he proved his doubters wrong. He’ll have to do that again, as he’ll turn 34 in November. He’ll regress at some point, but he could have another strong season or two left in the tank. Johnson will need to be great because the Chiefs don’t have much else at inside linebacker. This was a position they were expected to address this spring, but that never transpired.

Kansas City obviously has some new issues on this side of the ball, but the team is perfectly stable at outside linebacker and on the defensive line. The former is the strength of this defense, as Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are one of the top pass-rushing tandems in the NFL. Hali isn’t the player he used to be, but he’s still a very good edge rusher. Houston, on the other hand, is on a completely different level. He’s certainly one of the top five defenders in the league right now.

The defensive line, meanwhile, is stocked with several talented players, including Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard and Allen Bailey. Howard was one of the most-improved players on the roster, while Bailey offered some terrific support against the run. Poe is coming off a down year, perhaps because he was bothered by a back injury he sustained in the preseason. Poe is an extremely skilled nose tackle, so he should be able to rebound in 2016.


2016 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule and Intangibles:
The Chiefs needed to bring back the Arrowhead magic that existed prior to 2007. Since that year, Kansas City was a dreadful 20-37 as a host, heading into the 2014 campaign. However, Kansas City is now 12-4 at Arrowhead over the past couple of seasons.

Andy Reid had poor special-teams units in Philadelphia after John Harbaugh left for Baltimore. That was not the case the past three years for the Chiefs, as they’ve combined for six return touchdowns. They didn’t score any this past season, but they were about even with their opponents in terms of average.

Kicker Cairo Santos has proven to be a mediocre kicker. He was 30-of-37 in 2015, hitting on just 4-of-8 tries from 50-plus. He’s 50 percent from that range in his career. He also missed two extra points.

Pro Bowler Dustin Colquitt was 11th in net punting average in 2013 and moved up to eighth the season after. He held that spot in 2015, and he’s a master at pinning the opposition inside the 20.

“The Chiefs had an easy schedule during their stretch run last year. This season, they have an extremely tough road slate. There are no easy contests away from home, as Kansas City will have to battle the Texans, Steelers, Raiders, Colts, Panthers, Broncos, Falcons and Chargers. Luckily, Kansas City gets the Jets, Saints, Jaguars and Titans as hosts.

2016 Kansas City Chiefs Rookies:
Go here for the Chiefs Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2016 Kansas City Chiefs Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 Kansas City Chiefs Analysis: The Chiefs haven’t been able to wrestle the AFC West away from the Broncos in the Peyton Manning era, but things could change now. Manning is gone, and the Broncos lost some key personnel, so the window is open. Kansas City is considered the favorite to claim the division, but advancing deep into the playoffs with such a limited quarterback is a different story.

Projection: 10-6 (1st in AFC West)

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2016 NFL Season Previews

NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Chiefs have a loaded roster, save for a few spots. The one glaring hole is at quarterback, and it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if Paxton Lynch happened to be the pick at No. 28. Otherwise, Kansas City needs to focus on the trenches, as help is needed on both the offensive and defensive lines. A second receiver should be acquired as well, and it wouldn’t hurt if the Chiefs found someone to replace the departed Sean Smith.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: First and foremost, the Chiefs need to be commended for trading down twice and acquiring lots of extra resources in the process. Two other franchises were in desperate need of a third-round guard (on Thursday night) and a kicker on the following evening, and Kansas City was there to take advantage of all the stupid decisions.

So, how did the Chiefs make out with their actual picks? I’d say it was a mixed bag. Some of the better choices they made came early. Chris Jones, obtained at No. 37 overall, could’ve easily been taken in the first round, so he provided some value. Jones will fill the void left by the departed Mike DeVito. After that, KeiVarae Russell and Eric Murray will help replace Sean Smith. Russell has the best chance of starting, as he would’ve been chosen much earlier than No. 74 overall if it wasn’t for his character concerns.

Kansas City made some picks I disagreed with, however. Parker Ehinger was selected too early as a fourth-rounder, but there were two I have greater issues with. The first is Demarcus Robinson, who was suspended four times at Florida. I know that Andy Reid has gotten the most out of troublesome players, but Robinson was never even that great when he took the field. The second is Tyreek Hill; he was picked at No. 165 despite not being in my top 400.

Based solely on the players they acquired, I’d probably give the Chiefs a B-. However, their two great trades need to be taken into account. Thus, I’m bumping the grade up to a B+.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

37. Chris Jones, DE/DT, Mississippi State: A- Grade
Surprise, surprise, Andy Reid bolstered either the offensive or defensive line. Some things never change, apparently. In this case, however, it’s something Reid had to do. He lost Mike DeVito in free agency, so he had a hole at defensive end. Chris Jones will definitely fill that void, and he’s someone who could’ve been chosen at the end of the first round. In fact, had the Patriots owned the 29th pick, I think I would’ve mocked Jones to them.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

74. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame: B+ Grade
KeiVarae Russell is more talented than most third-round prospects, as he may have gone late one, early two if he didn’t come attached with character concerns. However, Marcus Peters also had similar issues, and he worked out, so I can’t blame the Chiefs for taking a chance. Kansas City needed a replacement for Sean Smith, and Russell should become a viable replacement.

105. Parker Ehinger, OT/G, Cincinnati: C+ Grade
Is anyone surprised that Andy Reid addressed his offensive line? It makes sense, as the Chiefs needed depth up front, but there were better linemen available. I’ve been mocking Ehinger (pronounced “Inger”) in and out of my fifth or sixth round, so I think this is a bit too early for him. Still, the selection makes sense, so I won’t be giving the Chiefs a bad grade.

106. Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota: B Grade
I like this pick better than No. 105. Eric Murray, unlike Parker Ehinger, fits the range as an early fourth-round pick. He’s the second cornerback the Chiefs have selected thus far in the 2016 NFL Draft, but depth was needed at the position, and it never hurts to have as many cornerbacks as possible. Murray is very athletic and has tons of upside, so he could start some day.

126. Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida: C- Grade
This is surprising, to say the least. We didn’t speak to one team that hadn’t removed Demarcus Robinson from their board. Robinson, of course, has some major character concerns. He was suspended four times at Florida and never took well to coaching. Making matters worse, he was just a mediocre tester at the Combine. Andy Reid has enjoyed success with poor-character guys, but he’ll need to put in a ton of work with Robinson.

162. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford: B Grade
I don’t have Charlie Campbell’s exact quote, but I remember him saying once that Kevin Hogan plays now like Andrew Luck will when he’s 38. Hogan doesn’t have what it takes to start, but he’s a smart guy and can learn any system to become a viable No. 2. This is when teams take backup quarterbacks, so the pick makes sense.

165. Tyreek Hill, WR, West Alabama: D Grade
Tyreek sounds like a character from Game of Thrones. Tyreek Lannister, perhaps? That’s the best analysis I have for Tyreek Hill, as he wasn’t in my top 400. He was kicked off Oklahoma State’s team for domestic violence. Didn’t the Chiefs already draft a receiver with character concerns?

178. D.J. White, CB, Georgia Tech: A- Grade
A third cornerback? Well, I can’t exactly blame the Chiefs, as they’re getting great value with D.J. White. Viewed as a fourth-round prospect, White is quite the bargain atop the sixth frame. He should be able to see some time in the slot in the near future.

203. Dadi Nicolas, LB, Virginia Tech: A- Grade
I just graded the Lions’ pick of Anthony Zettel and gave them an A-. I mention that because this is a very similar pick. Like Zettel, Dadi Nicolas was a productive player for his school and also showed off quality athleticism at the Combine. Unfortunately, Nicolas also has the same negative trait, which is that he’s undersized. At 6-3, 235, Nicolas is a small edge rusher. He could become a pass-rushing specialist, but he’ll probably never have a full-time role.

Season Summary:
The Chiefs began the year 1-5, but ripped off 11 consecutive victories to reach the divisional round of the playoffs, where they were outclassed by the Patriots. Kansas City’s winning streak was a mirage, thanks to a ridiculously easy schedule, and now the team will be dealing with lots of impending free agents they’ll need to re-sign.

Offseason Moves:
  • Chiefs announce retirement of DE/DT Mike DeVito
  • Chiefs sign DE/OLB Andy Mulumba
  • Chiefs sign S Stevie Brown
  • Chiefs sign S Jimmy Wilson
  • Chiefs announce retirement of S Husain Abdullah
  • Chiefs sign WR Rod Streater
  • Chiefs re-sign CB Jamell Fleming
  • Chiefs cut G Ben Grubbs
  • Chiefs sign OT Mitchell Schwartz
  • Chiefs re-sign DE/DT Jaye Howard
  • Chiefs re-sign DE/OLB Frank Zombo
  • Chiefs re-sign ILB Derrick Johnson
  • Chiefs re-sign DE/OLB Tamba Hali

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Safeties: Remember when I wrote that the Chiefs had a bunch of free agents to re-sign? All three of the team’s top safeties have expiring contracts, including Eric Berry. At least two of Berry, Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch need to be retained. Franchised Eric Berry

    2. Two Inside Linebackers: Derrick Johnson was great in his return from free agency. He’ll be hitting the open market come March, but even if he’s retained, Kansas City should look into using a second-day choice on someone to play next to him. Re-signed Derrick Johnson

    3. Two Offensive Tackles: I’m not sure why the Chiefs re-signed Jah Reid, as he’s not a good blocker in the slightest. Eric Fisher, meanwhile, is as mediocre as it gets. Andy Reid loves bolstering the trenches, so I’m sure he’ll add a tackle at some point this offseason. Signed Mitchell Schwartz

    4. Wide Receiver: Third-round rookie Chris Conley flashed, but the Chiefs don’t have a reliable receiver outside of Jeremy Maclin. A second-day selection could be used on a wideout again. Signed Rod Streater

    5. Defensive End: The Chiefs could address this position in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft if they lose Jaye Howard and Mike DeVito. They are impending free agents, and if they both leave, that would be a major blow. Re-signed Jaye Howard

    6. Guard: What Reid did with Jeff Allen earlier in the year was pretty disgraceful. Allen eventually started and was predictably dominant. However, he’ll be hitting the open market in March. Sorry, Andy, but he’s getting a big contract.

    7. Quarterback: Alex Smith won’t be able to lead a team deep into the playoffs because he’s just too limited. He’s not going anywhere, unfortunately, but the Chiefs can at least obtain a young quarterback to groom.

    8. Rush Linebacker Depth: Tamba Hali’s contract expires in March, so if he leaves, Dee Ford will take over as the starter. Once that happens, depth will be needed. Re-signed Tamba Hali

    9. Cornerback Depth: Another corner could be added if Sean Smith signs elsewhere.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Browns. Age: 27.
      Signed with Chiefs (5 years, $33 million)

      Mitchell Schwartz didn’t play very well in 2014, and there was even some speculation that he would be moved to guard. Schwartz silenced those criticis this past season, performing on a Pro Bowl level. Removed from Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme, Schwartz thrived, and should continue to do so in the right system.

    2. Rod Streater, WR, Raiders. Age: 28. — Signed with Chiefs
    3. Andy Mulumba (RFA), DE/OLB, Packers. Age: 26. — Signed with Chiefs

    Kansas City Chiefs Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs. Age: 27.
      Franchised by Chiefs

      Arguably the No. 1 overall free agent this spring, Eric Berry returned from cancer to serve as one of the top safeties in the NFL. He could be even better next year after having an entire offseason of practice time.

    2. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Chiefs (3 years)

      Tamba Hali is still one of the top edge rushers in the NFL, but he just turned 32. He should still have a strong season or two remaining, but he’s going to be slowing down soon.

    3. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Chiefs. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Chiefs (3 years, $21 million)

      Derrick Johnson made a terrific, unexpected return from a torn Achilles. No one would have been surprised had he been just solid, but Johnson was exceptional. Unfortunately, he’ll be 34 around this upcoming Thanksgiving, so he doesn’t have too many great years left in the tank.

    4. Jeff Allen, G, Chiefs. Age: 26.
      Signed with Texans (4 years, $28 million)

      It was absolutely ridiculous that Andy Reid didn’t use Jeff Allen in the first half of the season. It was completely unprofessional on his part. Allen is one of the better guards in the NFL.

    5. Sean Smith, CB, Chiefs. Age: 29.
      Signed with Raiders (4 years, $40 million)

      A big reason why Kansas City’s defense improved in the second half of the year was Sean Smith’s play down the stretch. Smith was suspended for three games to kick off the year and struggled in his return, but he was prolific during the team’s winning streak.

    6. Jaye Howard, DE/DT, Chiefs. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Chiefs (2 years, $12 million)

      Two years ago, Jaye Howard was claimed off waivers from the Seahawks. He has transformed into a solid 3-4 defensive end. He was particularly strong against the run but also generated a decent pass rush.

    7. Husain Abdullah, S, Chiefs. Age: 31.
      Announced retirement

      Husain Abdullah is on the wrong side of 30, but he had a strong year in 2015 – at least until Week 12, when he went out for the remainder of the regular season with a concussion.

    8. Tyvon Branch, S, Chiefs. Age: 29.
      Signed with Cardinals (2 years, $10 million)

      Tyvon Branch was the third safety on Kansas City’s roster, but he could’ve started on a full-time basis for most other teams. Branch saw extensive action in the wake of Husain Abdullah’s concussion.

    9. Mike DeVito, DE/DT, Chiefs. Age: 32.
      Announced retirement

      Mike DeVito doesn’t generate any pressure on the quarterback, but happens to be a stout run-defender in the 3-4. He turns 32 in June, so he could be slowing down soon.

    10. Ben Grubbs, G, Chiefs. Age: 32.
      The Chiefs cut Ben Grubbs on his birthday, which was a nice present, I’m sure. Grubbs played OK last year before sustaining a neck injury in the middle of the season. He failed his physical, meaning the injury might be serious. A hurt, 32-year-old isn’t very appealing, but Grubbs could be a nice buy-low option if he eventually checks out medically.

    11. Frank Zombo, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Chiefs (3 years, $3.6 million)
    12. Donald Stephenson, OT, Chiefs. Age: 27. — Signed with Broncos
    13. Chase Daniel, QB, Chiefs. Age: 29. — Signed with Eagles (3 years)
    14. Jason Avant, WR, Chiefs. Age: 33.
    15. Dezman Moses, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 27.
    16. Jamell Fleming, CB, Chiefs. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Chiefs
    17. Demetrius Harris (RFA), TE, Chiefs. Age: 25.
    18. Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Chiefs. Age: 26.
    19. Jordan Kovacs (RFA), S, Chiefs. Age: 26.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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