The Chiefs insured an impact this year by acquiring Patrick Surtain for this year's 2nd round pick. Surtain is a true shutdown corner with ball hawking skills. He brings instant credibility to a defense desperate for leadership and playmakers.
Let's put this acquisition into perspective. After nearly a month of rumors and innuendo, the Chiefs' went against their pattern and were aggressive in pursuing a high-level player and did so amongst public scrutiny for not already obtaining a corner, i.e. Samari Rolle. Carl Peterson took a step towards competing for a championship. By putting the financial risk on the back burner and placing potential victories at the forefront, Peterson acted like a fan as opposed to a stock holder. The Chiefs now have a cornerstone corner to lean on to cover true number one receivers.
This signing will move Eric Warfield to the number two corner position. Warfield's experience covering the opposition's best wide out as a number one corner will only help as he covers less talented players and he should see his production increase. This move also will take Dexter McCleon and put him where he is designed to play, the nickel back. McCleon struggled as a starter in 2004, but now as a nickel, this same trickle down effect should result in a positive for the Chiefs secondary.
Teaming with former Dolphin safety Sammy Knight gives Surtain some familiarity and a step towards already understanding what his teammates can give in form of on-field support. Knight and Surtain will lead the defensive unit, something the defense has lacked since the loss of Derrick Thomas.
The improvement in the secondary can only help the defensive front seven. By providing blanket coverage, the defensive line and linebackers will gain an additional one or two seconds to attack the backfield in passing situations. This should lead to more sacks and forced throws that oftentimes lead to interceptions. But realize a consistent pass rush will do more for the secondary than what the secondary can do for a pass rush. They both compliment one another and regardless of how well one unit plays, the defense is only as good as its weakest unit.
Johnson will affect a defense in dire need of more linebacker depth. He is a true outside linebacker in the NFL. His speed and instincts will propel this unit to more sacks and tackles at the point of attack. In a division with solid ground games and a tight end like Antonio Gates in San Diego, the Chiefs now have a player who can defend the pass and rush the quarterback.
At Texas, Johnson was constantly making plays and finding himself around the ball. His speed allows for attacking the gaps and making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Many "experts" felt Johnson's draft value was in the top ten, and as he slipped the Chiefs acquired the best pure linebacker in this year's draft. His sideline-to-sideline ability is uncanny and as a Chiefs fan, he will constantly be around the ball. His instincts put him in the right place at the right time and coupled with an aggressive defensive scheme, Johnson should impact this defense quickly.
Team Johnson with Fujita and Kendrell Bell, and the Chiefs have solidified a unit that struggled with injuries and under production. Plus, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham did a fantastic job in developing linebacker Keith Bulluck in Tennessee and should do similar things scheme wise with Derrick Johnson. His upside is tremendous regardless of pundits' claims of his shyness to take on blockers. He was strictly playing to his strengths. This is a fantastic selection that will prove a first-round success story, the first in quite a few seasons.
At Texas, Johnson was a two-time consensus first-team All-American, three-time first-team All-Big 12 pick and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He also was awarded the 2004 Butkus Award for the nation's top linebacker and received the Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player. In his senior season at Texas, he recorded 130 tackles, including 19 tackles for a loss, 10 QB pressures and a NCAA single-season record nine forced fumbles in 2004. His resume is filled with accolades and accomplishments, and it should translate to success on the field for the Kansas City Chiefs as Derrick Johnson jerseys will liter Arrowhead Stadium on Sundays.
Prepare yourselves Kansas City, the Chiefs' defense is improving right before our eyes, and the additions of Surtain and Johnson will only sweeten the success as the Chiefs make a push for the post season and an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.