Think back a few weeks, to a point before free agency started. Can you imagine someone telling you…
Warpaint Roundtable - Offseason Edition IV
How will the Chiefs solve their pass-rushing woes?! Nick Athan: Sign Julius Peppers. Wait, the Bears did that? Rescind the trade with Minnesota that shipped off Jared Allen. Oops, can't do that, either. Select a dominating pass rusher with the fifth pick this year. That's not happening, either. Right now the Chiefs should expect little from their two starting defensive ends, Glenn Dorsey (who may be traded to Detroit or St. Louis) and Tyson Jackson. Neither is skilled enough at the moment to be a productive pass rusher. What the Chiefs really need to find is a third or fourth-round pick that is the second coming of Allen. Other than that, they'll need their linebackers to put up career-best numbers. Michael Ash: The Chiefs could still look at some of the options in free agency, like Jason Taylor. He wouldn't be my first choice, but the team clearly doesn't mind bringing in aging stop-gaps, so they could probably do worse than Taylor. Beyond that, we'll have to look at the draft. There are some solid outside linebacker prospects who should be available to the Chiefs in the second round, where they have two picks. Of course, there are going to be good players at several positions available in that round, so it all boils down to which players they have rated the highest. We also can't discount the impact of Romeo Crennel, who was often credited for his creativity when he was with the Patriots. Back when he signed with the Chiefs, I remember an article in New England referring to Crennel as the "Buddha of blitz packages." If the personnel still isn't where we'd like it to be, maybe a new coordinator can manufacture some pressure. C.E. Wendler: It's going to have to come from the draft, isn't it? At this point Tamba Hali is KC's only legit pass rusher. Mike Vrabel is a year older and a year slower, Andy Studebaker is a giant question mark, and anyone else is a big unknown. When you can only really count on one player to rush the passer, you have a big problem. The Chiefs need to identify at least one outside linebacker prospect with the potential to start, a replacement for Vrabel. Preferably, they'll be able to find two, because with Hali's injury history, he probably shouldn't be penciled in as a sure thing. I have a feeling the Chiefs would like to bring him in off the bench in an ideal defensive future, anyway. With the wide receiver problems Haley had last year, how soon in the draft do you see him picking one? Or can the Chiefs still keep looking in free agency? Nick Athan: I see the Chiefs plucking at least two receivers. This draft is five rounds deep at the position. In particular, there's some good talent available in the second round, where Kansas City has two picks. But if reports are true that last year's starter, Dwayne Bowe, is not going to attend offseason workouts without a contract, the team really has only one legit receiver in Chris Chambers. So don't be shocked if the Chiefs spend both second-round picks on receivers. Of course the Chiefs could go against conventional thinking and with the fifth pick take Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant. But I'm not a fan of taking a receiver that high. I can't remember the last one that panned out that was selected that high. Michael Ash: Other than Terrell Owens, who is obviously unlikely to be a Chief, the free agent well of impact receivers has dried up. But in the draft, depending on when teams start making a run on receivers, there may be nice options in rounds two and three. Do the Chiefs have a shot at Golden Tate?Jonathan Daniel - Getty Golden Tate has probably become a late first rounder after the 40 time he posted at the combine, so we can forget about him. But someone like USC's Damian Williams might be someone to consider at the top of the second, as it's doubtful he'd last to the Chiefs' next pick in that round. There's some speedy, smaller-framed slot receivers who will probably be available with the Chiefs' other pick in the second round. Then there's a possibility that someone like Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas might fall into the middle rounds, as he broke his foot before the combine. He would be a project given the offense he played in at Georgia Tech, but would be worth a shot if he actually fell to the fourth round. The Chiefs won't get an immediate contributor unless they draft a receiver with one of their first few picks, but there are intriguing prospects from around the middle of the second round on down who could definitely be productive if given the time to develop. C.E. Wendler: First, let's realize that Pioli will be the architect of this draft and any draft the Chiefs participate in over the next four years. So we have to consider Pioli's draft history – how high does he take wide receivers? In New England, the Patriots continually selected receivers in the second round, whether it was Deion Branch, Bethel Johnson or Chad Jackson. Because Charlie Weis has traditionally extracted the best from less-than-top-flight talent at the receiver position, we can come to a logical conclusion that the Chiefs probably won't be picking a receiver in the first round this year. The second round would seem like an ideal place for the Chiefs to pick a receiver, especially because they have a need at that position. Depending on how the Dwayne Bowe situation plays out, they may consider trading up to grab Golden Tate, if they are truly that desperate. There's a lot of familiarity and need there, with Weis coordinating the offense and KC's lack of a true deep threat. What are your thoughts on the Chiefs drafting Sam Young, Eric Olson or Mike Johnson in the middle rounds to build the offensive line? Two of the three have history with Charlie Weis. Nick Athan: Like the draft's depth at wide receiver, the Chiefs are in good position to rebuild their entire offensive line before they hit round five. Right now they still need a center and another starting tackle. The addition of Ryan Lilja at guard helps. All three of the players you mentioned have NFL starter potential. I would think Weis wouldn't mind taking Olsen, who he recruited at Notre Dame. I also know the Chiefs are high on Florida center Maurkice Pouncey in round two. They are hoping Casey Wiegmann can play one more season but, if Pouncey is on the board in round two, he should be the pick. Michael Ash: If it works out that those players are the best available options when the Chiefs pick, they would be solid additions. But I don't expect the team to target specific players in the middle rounds of the draft. Here in this roundtable we've talked of pass rushers and receivers the Chiefs could be looking at in the draft. There's also a definite need for depth on offensive line. That's the problem with having so many needs – it's like being in a candy store and your mom saying you can only pick one item. Which one do you take? Incidentally, we're getting to a point where the Notre Dame connection is being overstated. Just about every offensive player Charlie Weis coached is being linked to the Chiefs. By the end of the draft, I really wouldn't anticipate them ending up with more than one of Weis' old players. C.E. Wendler: As someone who doesn't follow college football that closely, I'm not interested in specific names right now. What I do know is this – the Chiefs need to find offensive line talent in this draft. It's been too long. The cupboard is bare. It needs to be stocked. Last year, in a draft loaded with quality offensive linemen, the Chiefs declined to take advantage of an opportunity. That isn't to suggest that the entire offensive line needs to be fixed by one draft. Far from it. But it would make things much easier on the franchise if one immediate starter and one prospect for the future came out of the 2010 draft. It honestly doesn't matter what position it's at, either. The Chiefs need a solution, and they need it now. Casey Wiegmann isn't a solution, and Ryan Lilja is almost as much of a question mark. With the focus in free agency on nose tackle, offensive line and running back, do you expect us to focus on linebacker, wide receiver and defensive back in the upcoming draft? If we stay at #5 do we take Berry? Nick Athan: They have to rebuild both lines, as the offensive line needs at least three new starters and the defensive line needs a pass rusher, as we've already touched on. But the linebacker corps is light, even if Derrick Johnson returns. So a player to keep an eye on is Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The secondary is solid enough for 2010. I'd pass on Eric Berry. I'm not a fan and I think the Chiefs would be making a huge mistake take a safety that high. They have far greater needs. Should the Chiefs take Eric Berry? Michael Ash: I don't expect them to focus on any specific positions in the draft. With the possible exception of Ryan Lilja, nobody the Chiefs have signed this offseason will actually be a long-term solution. It's not like the Chiefs don't need a nose tackle because they signed Shaun Smith, or that there's no need to draft a center now that Casey Wiegmann is back. Those positions still need to be addressed, particularly nose tackle. But because of the offseason signings the Chiefs made, the urgency isn't quite as drastic anymore. That's the good thing about adding stop-gaps – it puts the team in a position where they aren't forced to start drafting for need. Ultimately, they should be able to focus on drafting the best players they can, regardless of what position they play. As for Eric Berry, if he's there at #5, it would be almost impossible for the Chiefs to justify passing on him. There are only two scenarios I can think of where it would be excusable: if Jimmy Clausen was taken instead, or if the Chiefs received a ridiculous, absolutely insane offer to trade down. C.E. Wendler: If the Chiefs start drafting by need instead of taking the best player available, we're in real trouble. I don't even want to think about the scenarios where Scott Pioli thinks he needs to spend KC's top pick on Rolando McClain, and starts trading down in order to get better value. And as Michael said, the Chiefs still need better players on both lines. That means if Terrence Cody is sitting around in round two, there would be few reasons for a team that needs a nose tackle to pass on him. Drafting for need brought Kansas City Tyson Jackson a year ago. I don't think anyone wants a repeat of that mistake.
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