Reviewing KC's offensive line

After discussing what the Chiefs aren't doing with the offensive line last week, it's only fair to take a look at the other side of the coin. Many of the linemen already with the team will be competing for starting jobs next season, so we'll evaluate those currently on the roster.

OT Anthony Alabi

Alabi played his college ball at TCU and was taken in the fifth round of the 2005 draft by Miami, back during the Dolphins' brief Nick Saban era. Coincidentally, the pick used to take Alabi originally belonged to the Chiefs, with the two teams swapping fifth-rounders that year as part of the Patrick Surtain trade.

Alabi played 13 games in three years at Miami and was among their many cuts this offseason. He was claimed off waivers by four clubs, but with the worst record of the bunch, the Chiefs snagged him.

He might be an unknown, but Alabi will be in the mix this year for the starting right tackle spot.

OT Adrian Jones

Herm Edwards drafted this former Jayhawk with the Jets back in 2004. He started every game during Edwards' final year in New York, but his playing time dropped off dramatically after that season and he was ultimately released late in 2007.

The Chiefs claimed Jones off waivers, but don't have any grand expectations for him. He'll compete for a backup spot during camp.

OT Travis Leffew

The undrafted free agent has bounced from team to team since coming into the league in 2006. The Chiefs signed him off Atlanta's practice squad late last season and he'll be one of many linemen trying to earn a roster spot this offseason.

OT Damion McIntosh

He isn't the long-term answer at left tackle, but McIntosh held down the fort reasonably well in his first season as a Chief. Although he'll remain a starter in 2008, where exactly he'll line up seems up in the air at the moment.

If the Chiefs can find a new left tackle in the draft, McIntosh is the obvious candidate to move to the opposite side of the line. But if the team can add two new tackles, or someone already on the roster steps up to fill the right tackle spot, McIntosh may be a consideration at guard.

It would be a gamble, however, considering he's only played two games at guard in his career. He also didn't appear to be a particularly strong run blocker last season.

C Rudy Niswanger


Will Niswanger be KC's starting center in 2008?
Brian Bahr - Getty

Considered by many to be a key part of the future of KC's line, Niswanger looked promising in limited duty as a guard in 2007. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the season and was forced to undergo surgery.

The good news is that he's ahead of schedule in his recovery and should be ready for mini-camp. During Monday's press conference, Herm Edwards said Niswanger would be the center if the season started today, so an issue that has been speculated about all offseason appears to have been resolved. This will allow Brian Waters to remain at guard and returns Niswanger to the position he played at LSU.

G Tre Stallings

A sixth-round pick in 2006, Stallings has been working with Will Shields to help improve his game. He appears capable athletically, but has apparently had trouble learning the playbook. Having already used up his practice squad eligibility, and with the Chiefs likely to bring in plenty of linemen before training camp, this will be an important offseason for Stallings as he fights to stay on the roster.

OT Will Svitek

Once considered KC's left tackle of the future, it seems those hopes were set a little too high. But Svitek showed promise at right tackle late last season and should be in the mix for that spot in 2008.

OT Herb Taylor

The Chiefs are high on Taylor, who was nothing short of dominant in college at TCU. He briefly filled in at left tackle against the Detroit Lions and looked solid. The team is hoping to see him step up to the next level this offseason and he's another player who will be in consideration for a starting role at right tackle. Depending on the other options, Taylor could also have an opportunity at guard.

G Brian Waters

It's fair to say Waters didn't have his best season in 2007. Let's be honest, though - one man can only hold the wall up for so long before the entire dam finally breaks. There's been a lot of speculation as to which position he'll line up at next year, but that subject appears to have been put to rest with the announcement of Rudy Niswanger at center.

The linchpin of the Chiefs' line and one of the team's most vocal leaders, Waters will be relied on heavily as the reconstruction of the offensive line gets underway. Incidentally, it seems he may be looking for a new contract.

Evaluation

Only two spots along the line appear set at this point: Brian Waters at left guard and Rudy Niswanger at center. The most anticipated scenario is that left tackle will be manned by a rookie from the first or second round of the draft, but that's certainly not a guarantee. There are a host of potential candidates for right tackle already on the roster.

The biggest hole may be at right guard, where the Chiefs don't appear to have an obvious solution at the moment. Moving Damion McIntosh inside is only an option if both tackle positions are already set, and even then it may not be an ideal fit. Guard is yet another position the Chiefs may need to target early on in the draft.

That brings us back to the overall problem the Chiefs are facing. Many seem to expect them to focus heavily on offensive linemen with their first few draft picks, if not throughout the entire draft itself. But that's not a realistic solution for a team needing help in so many areas. Should Kansas City pass on talented corners and receivers just to stock up on linemen?

There's no doubt the Chiefs have holes and question marks all over the offensive line. At this point, the best hope is that they find a few talented players in the draft while this year's plan works out better than last year's.