Obviously, they gave the job to Croyle. What sort of year does he need to retain the job in 2009?
Nick Athan: First and foremost, he has to win some goes. How many? I’d say he needs to win six to eight games. The good thing is that since the season ended he’s been the starter. There will be no competition and no matter what, even if he stinks in the preseason, he’s going to get 2008 to prove he’s the future.
The Chiefs didn’t draft another quarterback this year because they felt they owe Croyle and the organization a year to show what he can do. He has more weapons on offense and he also has Chan Gailey. That means an offense designed to enhance his strengths, not expose his weaknesses.
Michael Ash: At the moment, the 2009 quarterback draft class isn’t expected to be all that strong. So unless Croyle plays really poorly and the Chiefs pick near the top of the draft again next year, there may not be an option at quarterback that represents anything better than what the team already has.
Knowing that, if Croyle can keep the costly mistakes to a minimum, show the ability to lead the team to a last-minute victory once or twice, and – probably most important of all – avoid injury and stay on the field, I think he’s probably safe in 2009. Even if he doesn’t look all that impressive, he may keep the job just from a lack of better options.
C.E. Wendler: As I wrote earlier this week, Croyle’s got to show he can win in the NFL. It’s not like the Chiefs were blown out in every game he started last year. He had opportunities to win close games and didn’t get the job done.
From a statistical standpoint, I’d like to see Croyle come close to what Jay Cutler accomplished with the Broncos in 2007 – 3,497 yards, 20 touchdowns, 14 interceptions. If KC’s offensive line improves and the running game gets back on track, those are reasonable goals.
Does Brandon Albert have the potential to be a Pro Bowl left tackle, or are we just moving him there to fill a need? Should he be left at guard?
Nick Athan: He’s a left tackle, end of story. He was drafted to play that position, and I think he’s the most athletic lineman in this draft. He needs to improve his pass blocking, but after talking to Albert, he couldn’t care less where he plays on the line. But there is no doubt he’ll be the starting left tackle - the only thing that changes that plan is if he holds out. My guess is that he’ll be one of the first-round picks who signs early.
Michael Ash: He definitely has the potential. The reason Albert’s stock rose so much in the weeks leading up to the draft was because teams felt he could be a strong left tackle in the pros. The Chiefs should absolutely try him there, and the fact that he’ll probably have a Pro Bowl career at guard if things don’t work out at tackle is what makes him such a valuable addition.
Where does Albert fit on KC's offensive line?
Michael Conroy - AP
What if a guy like Ryan Clady doesn’t pan out at left tackle for the Broncos? Will they be able to salvage the kind of value out of him that the Chiefs can get from Albert by moving him inside to guard?
C.E. Wendler: You don’t spend a top 15 pick on a lineman and play him at guard. Considering that Albert’s entire college career was spent on the left side (tackle and guard), moving him to right tackle seems counterproductive. It’s not like the Chiefs are going anywhere this season, anyway. Stick Albert at left tackle from day one and let him grow into the position. If he struggles, no big deal. Let him get the growing pains out of the way sooner rather than later.
Realistically, will Brandon Carr be given a fair chance at winning the nickel-back job? I know Herm Edwards is a huge fan of drafting players from big schools because of the situations they've played in. I'd hate to see Carr at a disadvantage because of that.
Nick Athan: I think Carr has a shot at a higher spot on the depth chart. I had a conversation with Herm Edwards Thursday, and he’s pretty high on Carr, who he thinks can compete for a starting spot. Don’t be surprised if Carr starts alongside Brandon Flowers. Edwards told me two months ago that fans should not be shocked if there are two rookie corners starting come opening day.
Michael Ash: If Herm was going to hold Carr back because he lacks big-game experience, why draft him in the first place? The only way he’ll get over it is to play. Carr will be given every chance, and if anything, being a small-school cornerback who was overlooked by most of the league could work to Carr’s advantage. That’s a situation Edwards has some experience with.
C.E. Wendler: Between Tyron Brackenridge, Dimitri Patterson, Carr and fellow rookie Brandon Flowers, the competition is going to be at an all-time high in training camp. Just remember what Herm Edwards always says – the best players will play, period. Carr has as much of a shot as any of the other corners on the roster.
You're Bill Belichick, head coach for our first regular season opponent, the Patriots. As you prepare for the latest version of the Chiefs, what weak spots do you see that you may want to attack and take advantage of?
Nick Athan: I think the Patriots probably attack quarterback Brodie Croyle. What he does in the preseason will determine how aggressively defenses play against the Chiefs this year. On the other side of the ball, New England will likely go after KC’s young corners. Though I think the pass rush will improve with Glenn Dorsey in the middle alongside Tank Tyler, this will be a tough assignment for Kansas City’s young secondary.
Michael Ash: Until they prove otherwise, I would see an enormous weak spot in the line that’s supposed to protect Brodie Croyle. It’ll be difficult to put together a specific game plan for the Chiefs’ offense early on, since no one will know what Chan Gailey has in mind. So if I’m Belichick, I send pressure early and often until the offensive line shows they can handle it. If they can’t, it won’t really matter what Gailey calls.
Can the Chiefs stop Randy Moss?
Jim McIssacs - Getty
C.E. Wendler: The Chiefs have big-time questions at right tackle. If I was New England, I’d line Richard Seymour up at left defensive end and let him dominate whomever Kansas City starts at that position on opening day.
Offensively, it’s pretty simple. Randy Moss, everywhere. Send him into every area of the field on every conceivable route and see if the Chiefs have a single defender who has a prayer of stopping him. I’ll be absolutely shocked if KC’s defense has an answer for Moss this September.
Special teams was terrible last year. Was it addressed through the draft with some of the third round picks? Who would you have carrying the ball on the opening kickoff?
Nick Athan: I think there’s no question Kevin Robinson will be the guy come opening day. He was Mr. Everything at Utah State – their entire offense as a return man and a wide receiver. Look for DaJuan Morgan to be the guy who stands out on special teams. Inside the 50-yard line, he and Bernard Pollard will be the gunners.
Michael Ash: From watching the highlight clips of Jamaal Charles and the way he blows past everyone once he finds a hole, I think I’d give him a shot returning kickoffs. However, he didn’t do much of that in college, and sixth-round pick Kevin Robinson returned four kicks and four punts for touchdowns at Utah State, so I’d imagine that makes him the odds on favorite at the moment.
C.E. Wendler: The return game has been addressed in every way conceivable. The Chiefs signed former Raven B.J. Sams before the draft, and picked Robinson as Nick and Michael mentioned. Herm Edwards mentioned Charles may get an opportunity to return kickoffs, so if Kansas City has any luck at all, they’ll find a good return man.
Also, quietly, Mike Priefer’s coverage units did a decent job last season. With all the talent added via the draft, there’s going to be plenty of players willing to take someone’s head off on special teams this year. If he doesn’t win a job as a return man, Charles’ blazing speed could be a real asset covering kicks, especially if he can hit people as he hit former Ohio State Buckeye A.J. Hawk (now a Green Bay Packer) a few years ago, defending an interception return.