Chiefs Post-Draft Needs

Posted May 7, 2011

The Chiefs have several needs to fill as we wait for the next phase of the off-season to begin

Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli left last weekend’s draft confident that the team had addressed several “musts.”  With nine picks, five defensive and four offensive, the Chiefs attacked position needs across the board.

Reinforcements were added to the pass rush, along the interior offensive line and in the receiving game. Kansas City’s special teams unit got better as a whole and an investment was made to draft and develop a rookie quarterback.

So, what’s next?

Other than the waiting game that has become of the NFL’s labor unrest, free agency is next. Eventually.

“We still have a number of moves to make before we can fill an 80-man training camp roster,” Pioli said as he walked away following his post-draft press conference.

Last year, 13 veteran players who were either signed or re-signed in 2010 took the field for the Chiefs first summer practice in St. Joseph. Of those 13, seven went on to start games for the Chiefs in 2010 – Jackie Bates, Chris Chambers, Terrance Cooper, Thomas Jones, Ryan Lilja, Shaun Smith and Casey Wiegmann

That’s just one part of free agency. College free agents make up another part of the pie.

The Chiefs went to training camp last season with 12 undrafted rookies. The year before that, 12 rookie free agents began Kansas City’s final training camp in River Falls, Wisconsin. Players like Jovan Belcher, a 100-tackle performer last season, once entered the scene as a faceless player to most of Chiefs Nation.

Even though the draft addressed a number of needs, the Chiefs still have a long way to go in building a 2011 roster.

“We still need to keep getting better,” Pioli said. “We got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs so we have a ton of needs and we have a lot of needs to get better. Did we fill every need this draft? Absolutely not.”

The Chiefs still have several needs. Some of those needs are more pressing than others. Here are some of the positions the Chiefs might choose to address whenever free agency opens.

Offensive Tackle

Both starters from 2010 – Branden Albert and Barry Richardson – are expected to return, but reinforcements are scarce. Converted defensive lineman Bobby Greenwood is the only other tackle currently under contract, and he spent all of last season on the practice squad.

Ryan O’Callaghan, who started 12 games at right tackle in 2009, is currently without a contract. He is scheduled to become restricted free agent under 2010 free agency rules. It’s unclear if the Chiefs plan to re-sign O’Callaghan.

Nose Tackle

Sixth-round draft pick Jerrell Powe has an opportunity to challenge for playing time right away. He joins Anothony Toribio as the only other nose tackle on the Chiefs roster.

The Chiefs may opt to re-sign veteran starter Ron Edwards and/or Shaun Smith to provide stability at the position. It would be hard to see the Chiefs heading into 2011 with such little experience in the middle of the defensive front.

This time of year, Glenn Dorsey’s name always gets thrown around as a candidate to move inside. We’ll have to see how free agency pans out before assessing how legitimate that option might be.

Slot Receiver

The Chiefs addressed wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft by selecting Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin 26th overall. Baldwin will play outside, as will the majority of the Chiefs wide receivers currently under contract. The depth alongside Dexter McCluster at the slot position is a question heading into the next portion of the off-season.

Under 2010 free agency guidelines, Terrance Cooper and Kevin Curtis will hit unrestricted free agency.

Running Back

Jackie Battle spent the 2010 season as the Chiefs third running back behind Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. He’ll hit restricted free agency under last season’s rules, but the Chiefs may look at bringing in competition regardless of Battle’s future in Kansas City.

With Jones turning 33 years old in August, this might be a year that the Chiefs take a peek at several undrafted runners. A handful of veteran backs are expected to hit free agency as well.

Tight End

Pass catchers are abound, but where’s that sixth offensive lineman? That big-bodied tight end that stays home, but can also slip out the back door as an emergency outlet? It’s difficult to recall a time when Kansas City didn’t have a towering tight end on its roster – Jason Dunn, Brad Cottam and Leonard Pope take us back over a decade.

Under 2010 free agency rules, both Leonard Pope and Brad Cottam are slated to become restricted free agents. It’s conceivable, however, that both could be back.


What will the Chiefs decide to do with free agent to be Jon McGraw? Is a young group of safeties ready to move forward without a guiding veteran presence? If not, McGraw or a veteran free agent could join the Chiefs group of safeties in 2011.

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