As the last pick in the 2009 NFL draft – otherwise known as Mr. Irrelevant - most didn't expect much…
Training Camp Questions – Part II
Dorsey, the Chiefs' first-round pick from a year ago, seems to be something of an enigma. We know he has the appropriate demeanor and work ethic for the NFL, but people still compare him to legendary bust Ryan Sims, simply because of his disappointing rookie season. Some have sort of tossed Dorsey to the side this offseason, which is odd for a player picked so high just a year ago, but the Chiefs need him to produce.
Supposedly, Dorsey will line up as a starter at defensive end in KC's new 3-4 hybrid defense – at least that's where he was slotted at times during OTAs. You might think Dorsey has no business playing 3-4 defensive end, but we already know the Chiefs' 3-4 scheme isn't exactly run in the traditional style.
As WPI columnist Michael Ash pointed out this week in our roundtable, in Arizona, Clancy Pendergast's scheme called for a three-technique defensive lineman to play one-gap responsibility on the weakside, otherwise known as rushing up the field like a bat out of hell at the snap. The Cardinals used Darnell Dockett in this role last season. It's possible Dorsey, who has a similar skillset, would draw the same sort of assignment with the Chiefs.
Let's not forget that Dorsey is supposed to be the Chiefs' most talented defensive lineman (although Tyson Jackson might have something to say about that). He was the most highly-touted of all the Chiefs' young defensive linemen coming out of the draft, and there are no veteran linemen that qualify as anything more than journeymen at this point. Jackson and Alex Magee have potential, but are rookies, as Dorsey was a year ago.
If the Chiefs are going to do anything on defense this season, Dorsey probably needs to be a major contributor. Counting on rookies isn't the best recipe for success. Of course, if Dorsey is injured again, he won't be much help.
What exactly do the Chiefs have at wide receiver?
Despite the fact they traded Tony Gonzalez, you may have noticed the Chiefs weren't exactly in a rush to sign wide receivers this offseason. Fans have been clamoring for the team to trade for Anquan Boldin, or even to sign the prison-bound Plaxico Burress. But other than signing Bobby Engram and a few unaccomplished players like Terrance Copper, the Chiefs have been pretty quiet.
The message: Todd Haley is just fine with Dwayne Bowe, Mark Bradley, Engram, Devard Darling and a few no-names providing depth.
We may not find out for awhile if that group is enough for Haley's offense to produce at a competitive level. If you recall, last training camp Darling was impressive, and even Will Franklin of all people was productive in the preseason. When September rolled around it meant absolutely nothing and KC's passing offense was woeful until the implementation of the spread. While it's true the Chiefs couldn't pass protect, it's pretty clear the failures of Darling and Franklin didn't help.
Now the Chiefs are installing a new offense, and during OTAs there were reports that the passing game was struggling to gel. There's definitely reason for concern here, especially with an inexperienced quarterback. We don't even want to think about what happens if someone is injured.
Who's the kicker?
It's Ryan Succop against Connor Barth, and your guess is as good as mine. The real question is no matter who wins the battle, will the Chiefs come out of it with a reliable placekicker?
If it's Barth, great, but Succop should strike fear into every Chiefs fan after the Justin Medlock debacle. As Mr. Irrelevant, there's no question Succop wasn't nearly as accomplished a collegiate kicker as Medlock, who was drafted in the fifth round.
Of course we now know the Chiefs didn't do their homework on Medlock, so it wasn't surprising he flamed out so quickly. Essentially, we have to hope that Scott Pioli knew what he was doing taking a rookie kicker and ignoring veteran placekicking competition.
You might say, "come on, it's just a kicker," but given Matt Cassel's red zone struggles a year ago, it becomes doubly important. The Patriots settled for 40 field goal attempts last season. Only the accuracy of Stephen Gostkowski enabled them to convert 36 times. With a suspect defense, every point will count for the Chiefs this year.
Do the Chiefs have a return man? Can they stop other returners?
If KC's lack of action on the receiver front is any indication, their comparative abundance of movement on the kick returner front should tell us one thing: they're evidently concerned about the return game.
Between drafting Quinten Lawrence, signing Terrance Copper and Bobby Engram, and hanging on to Jeff Webb and Dantrell Savage, there are plenty of options for the Chiefs in the return game. Obviously, Pioli and company are hoping someone emerges.
And yes, even Engram might be involved in this question. He's old, but has punt return experience. His value to the Chiefs might not just come as a receiver – if the younger players falter, he provides a fairly decent "returner by default" option.
Clearly, the Chiefs studied last season's tapes and saw two things. According to Football Outsiders, Kansas City ranked 29th in average starting field position and 31st in opponent's average starting field position. Neither are glowing endorsements of any facet of the 2008 special teams, which points to signings like Corey Mays and Monty Beisel.
Steve Hoffman, KC's new special teams coach, was assistant special teams coach in Miami last year. The Dolphins ranked fourth in opponents' average starting field position, but curiously just 25th in their own average starting field position, despite Ted Ginn, Jr.
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