The Monroe Doctrine

Kevin C. Cox/Getty

In 1823, the United States of America introduced a new policy. The Monroe Doctrine (named for President James Monroe) stated, essentially, that any further interference by European powers in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere would be interpreted as acts of aggression.

What does this have to do with the Kansas City Chiefs? Really, nothing, because any parallels one might draw between a 200-year old political policy and modern professional sports is a reach, at best. However, it is worth noting that the Monroe Doctrine served a worthwhile purpose in helping a fledgling nation of the west establish itself against powers to the east – Spain, Britain, France.

To that end, Kansas City needs its own Monroe Doctrine. Here we have a fledgling football franchise of the AFC West, struggling to establish itself against the NFL's powers to the east – New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh.

If the Chiefs are to compete with these franchises, they must build through the draft. With the third overall pick, this year there is an opportunity to do just that.

So why waste it on Eugene Monroe?

Monroe, of course, is arguably the premier offensive tackle of this April's draft class. He's been compared to Seattle's Walter Jones, a nine-time Pro Bowler who has manned the left tackle spot for the Seahawks for 12 seasons.

There's no question Monroe has the potential to be a great NFL left tackle. He's worthy of a high draft choice. Most likely, he will be picked with one of the first five selections. But that doesn't mean the Chiefs should draft him.

We know the Chiefs already have a great, young left tackle on their hands in Branden Albert, the 15th overall pick in last year's draft. Despite injuries during training camp and the regular season, Albert was arguably KC's best offensive lineman, even as a rookie, allowing only 4.5 sacks and committing only one penalty all year.

But despite Albert's clear success, there are Chiefs fans who want to replace him with Monroe, and stick Albert at right tackle. They claim this will give Kansas City an offensive line to be reckoned with, ushering in a glorious new era of scoring that might rival the days when Willie Roaf and Will Shields blocked for Priest Holmes and Trent Green.

Certainly, there is at least some merit to this desire. If Monroe is who scouts believe him to be, and Albert can make a successful transition to right tackle, the Chiefs would obviously have a pair of bookends the envy of the entire league. Forget Dwayne Bowe, Bobby Engram and Tony Gonzalez. Matt Cassel could set records throwing to Sean LaChappelle, Snoop Minnis and Devard Darling with that sort of protection.


Would James Monroe have drafted Eugene Monroe?
Gilbert Stuart

Unfortunately, a fruitless experience with Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders appears to have convinced legions of Chiefs fans that you absolutely, positively must have the league's most dominant offensive line to win a Super Bowl. The engine that drove the Greatest Show on Grass (Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Shields, John Tait) has all but vanished, and by Jove, the Chiefs have to get it back. It's the only way to win a Lombardi Trophy, and it starts with Monroe in red and gold, allowing Albert to take over at right tackle.

That might be true if Carl Peterson were still running the show at Arrowhead. We know that after Tait left for Chicago, the Chiefs never could find another right tackle to solidify the line. They went through John Welbourn, Kevin Sampson, Jordan Black, Kyle Turley, Chris Terry and Damion McIntosh, and none of them stuck.

Peterson failed horribly, wasting draft picks on Welbourn, Sampson and Black, and free-agent dollars on Turley, Terry and McIntosh. All were a gigantic waste of time and resources, save a handful of quality games from Welbourn.

But, as we will see, good general managers and head coaches can find a right tackle anywhere. They know that committing too many resources to a complementary position means neglecting other, more important positions. And let's be honest, the Chiefs have neglected a lot of important positions over the years. Currently, with the likely implementation of a 3-4 defensive scheme, the front seven rests in tatters. It's so bad that Monty Beisel may be playing the Shawne Merriman role this year.

Is neglecting all of that really worth having the best offensive tackle tandem in the league? Not if Scott Pioli can find Albert's bookend under a rotten log in the fifth round, or in free agency, or via trade. If Pioli is the GM Clark Hunt believes him to be, that's what he'll do.

That's exactly what legendary general manager Bill Polian did in Buffalo over 20 years ago. He found right tackle Howard Ballard in the 11th round of the 1987 draft. A rotten log, indeed. Ballard started every game for five consecutive seasons with the Bills.

Polian did it again years later, in Indianapolis. Did Peyton Manning require a swarm of first-rounders in front of him? Not remotely. Ryan Diem, a fourth-round pick in 2001, has protected Manning from the right tackle position for six straight seasons. Guess what? He started out as a guard.

Do you think Mike Holmgren knows a few things about offense? As Seahawks coach, he located himself a fine right tackle in Sean Locklear via the third round of the 2004 draft. Years earlier, in Green Bay, Holmgren protected Brett Favre with another third-rounder – Earl Dotson, good enough to start 15 games at right tackle for the 1996 Super Bowl Champions.

Heck, arguably the greatest passing offense of all time featured a fifth-round pick at right tackle. Fred Miller, another converted guard, started all 16 games for the 1999 St. Louis Rams. Dick Vermeil knew where to locate a competent right tackle. He was already on the roster. There were no thoughts of moving Orlando Pace to right tackle, no need to go hunting for another tackle in the draft, especially not in the first round.


Would Eugene Monroe have voted for James Monroe?
Kevin C. Cox - Getty

Here's the real kicker – we already know Scott Pioli can grab a right tackle without overpaying for one, or blowing a first-round pick. In New England, he picked up Nick Kaczur in the third round of the 2005 draft, who later would start 15 games at right tackle for arguably the greatest offense in NFL history with the 2007 Patriots. Maybe you want to credit Bill Belichick instead of Pioli, but all that does is make for a stronger point.

What do Ballard, Diem, Locklear, Dotson, Miller and Kaczur all have in common?

They all started either 15 or 16 games for top-ranked scoring offenses at some point throughout their careers. They all played in, or won, the Super Bowl.

They were good enough in pass protection for great quarterbacks, and in some cases, Hall of Fame quarterbacks: Jim Kelly, Peyton Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and Tom Brady.

They were good enough in the running game for great running backs, and in some cases, Hall of Fame running backs: Thurman Thomas, Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander, Dorsey Levens, Marshall Faulk and Corey Dillon.

They were also, for the most part, completely overshadowed by their left tackle counterparts: Will Wolford, Tarik Glenn, Walter Jones, Ross Verba, Orlando Pace, Matt Light.

They were comparative afterthoughts amongst lethal offensive arsenals. They combined for two Pro Bowl appearances. Their jerseys did not sell. They did not earn record-setting contracts. They did not make commercials, hold press conferences, or even throw helmets.

What held true for Polian with the Bills and Colts still holds true in 2009. Look at the top 10 offenses from last season. Their right tackles came far and wide from everywhere but the first round, save two instances.

From the Falcons (10th) to the Saints (1st), the following were featured at right tackle: a converted guard, a free-agent right tackle, a third-round pick, a first-round pick, a free-agent right tackle, a seventh-round pick, a first-round pick, a third-round pick, a sixth-round pick, and a second-round pick (For the sake of this argument, we should note that one of those first-round right tackles, Levi Brown, was picked to be the left-handed Matt Leinart's blindside protection).

Clearly, history says you can find a right tackle anywhere if your personnel department is up to the task. The third overall pick in the draft is not required, and a $50 million contract is just absurd (almost as absurd as producing a 1,490-word policy concerning NFL right tackles). It's simply not good football sense, particularly when you have major problems elsewhere, and you're trying to compete with powers to the east.

Just say no, to Eugene Monroe.

That is Kansas City's Monroe Doctrine. It was good enough for the United States of America as it developed into the most powerful nation in the world. It makes an immense amount of sense for the Chiefs as they attempt to become the most powerful football franchise in the world.

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