Insider Blog: Pledge Your Allegiance

Posted Jun 5, 2010

Kansas City has made a commitment to Branden Albert as there are no more outside distractions involving a potential position change

When the Chiefs went on the clock April 22nd, most assumed that Kansas City’s selection came down to a two-horse race. There were a few third-party candidates receiving whispers, but when both Eric Berry and Russell Okung were available at number five, most thought it was going to be one or the other who ended the night in a Chiefs uniform. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.

The Chiefs obviously selected Berry with the fifth overall selection and, from what it sounds like, there wasn’t much debate once the clock started ticking.

“I think the problem was for us, we didn’t know how things were going to fall,” GM Scott Pioli said at the time. “Even when you’re that close, we had no idea what was going to happen ahead of us. You go through those couple of scenarios as to what might happen, what might not happen and we felt if (Eric) was the player that was there when we were getting ready to pick, (Eric) was the player we wanted and that we were going to go with.”

Even so, most still assume that the second player on the board outside Berry, at that time, was one of the offensive tackles – namely Okung or possibly Bryan Bulaga. Drafting an offensive tackle at number five was discussed for countless hours by those outside of the Chiefs organization leading up to draft day and each of those exchanges centered around a scenario that saw left tackle Branden Albert shifting to another position.

After hearing what head coach Todd Haley had to say about Albert earlier this week, it’s hard not to wonder if the general assumption that the Chiefs debated between Berry and Okung is completely false.

“I mean it is fun stuff to talk about in the off-season, but it is probably a little more for (the media) than all than us,” Haley said when asked if he debating switching Albert’s position this off-season. “I don’t want to insinuate in any way that I was down (on Branden).”

After suffering what many are dubbing a “sophomore slump” in 2009, the idea of switching Albert to the right edge, or possibly even inside to his college position of guard, were natural off-season topics. Albert’s sacks allowed total doubled from 4.5 in his rookie season to 9.0 a year ago.

“I think that he was like all the other guys – everything was new,” Haley said of Albert’s 2009 season. “He had a new position coach, he had a new coordinator, he had a new head coach. Everything was new, and by the way he happens to be going against some pretty big-time competition.”

While some thought that the Chiefs’ new staff might have lost confidence in Albert after one season in getting to know one another, the exact opposite occurred on draft day. Not only did the Chiefs pass on Okung at number five, but they also passed on the likes of 16 other tackles that were selected at picks 36 or later (the Chiefs first second-round pick was used on Dexter McCluster at number 36).

Utah’s Zane Beadles was chosen 45th overall - passed

USC’s Charles Brown was selected 64th overall – passed

Vlad Ducasse out of UMass at 61 –passed

The list goes on. By the end of the three-day draft, Kansas City had pledged their allegiance to Albert.

“He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do to be able to take that next step,” Haley said of Albert. “I think that’s where his eyes are – becoming a real good player and again, we’ll see. This is just the off-season but he has done everything to this point to continue to get better.”

The Chiefs offense needs big things out of Albert this season and they also need to him be healthy. A glimpse at the depth behind Albert and Ryan O’Callaghan is bleak when it comes to NFL experience.

Swing man Ikechuku Ndukwe offers experienced depth at both guard and tackle, but all of Kansas City’s “true tackles” behind Albert and O’Callaghan are developmental players. The time is now for Barry Richardson, a big-bodied prospect who has been part of the organization for two seasons without much game experience on the line. All of the other players competing for depth at tackle are either rookie free agents or first-year players who have never seen a regular season snap.

A commitment has been made to Branden Albert, both verbally and via off-season actions taken by the club. There are no distractions. All he has to focus on is being the best player possible in 2010.

“I’m expected big things out of Branden Albert,” Haley said.

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