“For all these guys, what I’m preaching all the time is the more you can do, the more you can do the better; regardless. It’s always good for everybody involved.”
- Todd Haley, 2010 Training Camp
Position versatility has become commonplace across the Chiefs roster. Few players, outside of quarterbacks and kickers, line up at just one position. For reserves, position flexibility is becoming a mandatory part of the job description.
Whether it’s a tight end that can play h-back, or a guard that can play center, the Chiefs are becoming a plug-and-play team. Game plans are constantly evolving and position demands increasing. As long as gameday rosters remain at 45 players, those that are active must be versatile.
“We love versatility,” General Manager Scott Pioli said after selecting a handful of position flexible players in this year’s draft. “We love players that can do multiple things for a couple of different reasons. You have an opportunity for a player to make it in more than one way on your football team and the other thing you have, if he’s a backup, he gives you an opportunity to manage your roster far better.”
The more you can do philosophy held true during the 2011 NFL Draft when the Chiefs used six of their nine picks on players that played multiple positions in college.
A quick de-briefing…
Rodney Hudson –Will begin his Chiefs career at center, but was an All-America selection at left guard for Florida State.
Justin Houston – Played two seasons as a 4-3 defensive end prior to a production-filled move to outside linebacker in 2010. He might just play both in Kansas City. Don’t’ be surprised when Houston aligns on the line of scrimmage when the Chiefs go with four defensive linemen in sub-package sets.
Allen Bailey – Played all across the defensive line, as well as at inside linebacker, while at Miami. Will begin his NFL career at defensive end, but offers the flexibility along the interior line in sub-packages. Depending on his playing weight, may even be able to fill in at outside (or inside) linebacker in a pinch.
Jalil Brown – Hybrid defensive back played both cornerback and safety in college. Listed as a cornerback, but is a prime candidate to play in dime and nickel packages as well.
Gabe Miller – Played tight end for two seasons before switching to defensive end at Oregon State. He’ll play outside linebacker in Kansas City, but the Chiefs also worked him out on the offensive side of the football. If Mike Vrabel returns, Miller will have a good mentor should the rookie also become a red zone receiving threat.
Shane Bannon –Lined up as a traditional fullback, as an h-back and on the line of scrimmage at Yale.
When rookie free agency rolls around, more versatile athletes are sure to be added.
Even the Chiefs most prominent, veteran, play-makers have been on the move to some degree. Jamaal Charles will often motion out of the backfield and into space, while Dwayne Bowe has caught passes from an interior alignment.
Defining versatility goes as far as you want to take it. Technically, an example can be made of nearly everyone on the roster (i.e. Matt Cassel lines up as a wide receiver in Wildcat sets).
We’ve scanned every player currently listed on the Chiefs roster and thrown away the outliers (such as Cassel lining up at wide receiver). When all is said and done, both the Chiefs roster is filled with multi-dimensional players on both sides of the football.
Let’s have a look…
Branden Albert – Has started 29 games at left tackle for the Chiefs, but was a standout guard in college.
Jon Asamoah – Has taken practice reps at center. Played both guard posts as a rookie in 2010.
Bobby Greenwood – Converted college defensive end made the switch to offensive tackle during the 2010 training camp.
Darryl Harris – Played all five offensive line positions in college. Primary position with the Chiefs has been guard, but has also practiced at center.
Ryan Lilja – Started 15 games at right guard last season after starting 59 games at left guard for the Colts (2004-09).
Rudy Niswanger – Played all five offensive line positions in college. Has played both guard and center for the Chiefs.
Barry Richardson – Can play either tackle position. Started 15 games at right tackle last season and one game at left tackle (at Seattle).
Brian Waters – Had played both guard and center prior to 2010. Added left tackle to his resume last season when Branden Albert briefly exited a game at Indianapolis due to injury. Entered the NFL in 1999 as a tight end and has also seen reps as a short-yardage fullback.
Casey Wiegmann – Played guard early in his career before the ironman streak at center began in 2001.
Jackie Battle – Has played fullback, short-yardage back and tailback over the course of four seasons in Kansas City.
Tim Castille – Has lined up as a third-down tailback in addition to his role at fullback.
Dexter McCluster – Lined up in the backfield as a running back and in Wildcat sets as a rookie - totaled 18 carries for 71 yards (3.9 avg.).
*Most of the Chiefs wide receivers have lined up both inside and outside, depending on personnel packages and pre-snap shifts
*The Chiefs are flexible with the alignment of their tight ends. Tony Moeaki, for example, has lined up on the line of scrimmage and also been split outside the hash. Jake O’Connell has aligned in the backfield as a fullback/h-back in certain personnel packages as well.
Glenn Dorsey – The Chiefs most versatile defensive lineman. Rarely leaves the field and moves inside for sub-packages. Always seems like an annual candidate to play nose tackle.
Dion Gales – 6-5, 310 frame helps him stand out from the crowd. Has played both defensive end and defensive tackle when on the Chiefs 53-man roster.
Wallace Gilberry – Undersized defensive end excels as a pass rusher, but has also moved inside during nickel sets. Has the size to play outside linebacker, but has yet to rep at that position.
Shaun Smith – The position flexibility of “Deep Freeze” extends beyond his role as a short-yardage fullback. Smith came to Kansas City as a defensive tackle, but settled in as a defensive end.
Charlie Anderson – Spent 2010 as a reserve outside linebacker, but has also played inside during his seven-year NFL career.
Eric Bakhtiari – A standout defensive end at the University of San Diego, Bakhtiari converted into a 3-4 outside linebacker as a pro. He spent a portion of the 2010 season working at that position on Kansas City’s practice squad.
Justin Cole –Worked at both inside and outside linebacker during the 2010 training camp.
Tamba Hali – Former 4-3 defensive end led the AFC in sacks as a 3-4 outside linebacker last season. Still lines up with his hand on the ground in certain personnel packages.
Derrick Johnson – We’ve yet to see him play outside in a 3-4 scheme, but started at both inside and outside linebacker positions in Kansas City’s old 4-3 system.
Andy Studebaker – Entered the league as a defensive end and played that position briefly in Kansas City. Moved to outside linebacker in 2009.
Mike Vrabel – Owns 10 catches for 10 TDs as a Red Zone tight end. Also owns two Super Bowl TD receptions. Entered the league as a defensive end before moving to outside linebacker.
Pierre Walters – Converted collegiate defensive end is an outside linebacker for the Chiefs.
Demorrio Williams – Chiefs experimented with him as an outside pass rusher in sub-packages last preseason. Primary post is as an inside linebacker.
Eric Berry – Most versatile defensive back on the roster. Can aid at the linebacker level in run support or serve as a cornerback in a pinch.
Travis Daniels – Cornerback has played outside and also in the nickel for Kansas City.
Jon McGraw – Where’s McGraw? Everywhere. The veteran has pitched in at both safety positions, cornerback, nickel and linebacker during his four seasons with the Chiefs.
Ricky Price – Began the season listed as a cornerback; finished it as a safety.
Maurice Leggett – Won the Chiefs Mack Lee Hill Award as a cornerback in 2008. Switched to safety in 2009 after beginning the season as a cornerback/nickel back.
Cameron Sheffield – Converted collegiate defensive end is an outside linebacker for the Chiefs.
Donald Washington – Drafted as a cornerback in 2009. Played safety in 2010. The Chiefs still officially list him as a CB/S.
Thomas Gafford –The long snapper took reps at tight end throughout training camp in 2009. He has experience as a collegiate tight end as well.