This past week at the Scouting Combine, we had an opportunity to talk to some well-known NFL analysts regarding the Chiefs. Here is a roundup of what we learned:
The Analysts:Matt Bowen, Bleacher Report NFL writer
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network analyst
Adam Caplan, ESPN NFL insider
Jason La Canfora, CBS NFL insider
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report lead NFL Draft analyst
Adam Schefter, ESPN NFL insider
On the Chiefs' offseason
Bowen:"They need more talent at wide receiver, they do. Let's just be honest. You need guys you can have on the field. You need opportunities for Alex Smith to make plays. You need to go to Jamaal Charles and say 'Jamaal, we're not going to put it all on you this game. We're going to lengthen your career now. You're a great player, you're a superstar, you're a Pro Bowl talent at running back. We need to help you out as well' … Justin Houston, I expect him back, I hope he's back. You can never have enough pass rushers. Never. Let's say you have 10 good pass rushers. Get number 11. Do it. You can never have enough guys. You need depth there and you need to get after the quarterback."
Brooks:"I think you have to continue to build upon a program. This is a team that is ready to go. Obviously, it went to the postseason a year ago. Didn't make it this year but there are a lot of intriguing pieces in place. You've got to figure out what you're going to do with the pass rusher. Justin Houston is a dominant player. Can you bring him back to the fold? If not, is Dee Ford ready to be that replacement on defense?' You have to address the wide receiver position. You have to be more explosive, more plays and allow Alex Smith to fully utilize all the options that are available in the passing game."
Caplan:"When you look at their situation, obviously you have to start with their own free agents and make a decision on Tamba Hali's contract and seeing where that goes and Dwayne Bowe has a big cap number and obviously, the big thing now is reshaping that wide receiver position, which is extremely thin. Downfield, receivers who can run, that's it to me. Get the offense fixed. Need better depth in the secondary … Inside linebacker is a big need for them. Getting Derrick Johnson back to health, he's coming back from a serious injury. Joe Mays came back from his injury which lingered a little bit longer. They have a decision to make on his contract, so that's another position that's kind of a sleeper one they need to address is inside linebacker."
La Canfora: "Well, I think they are a team that probably starts with addition by subtraction. The cap situation isn't ideal. They have to create room to franchise Justin Houston. I can't imagine Dwayne Bowe given the number he's at. I know they obviously let Donnie Avery go. I suspect there will be a little bit more of a purge to come to create some wiggle room and some space. You can play around with Alex Smith's contract a little bit if you want to create a little more cap room. But, I'm not sure that they're going to be a team that's going to be able to set the market at multiple positions in free agency and frankly, teams that do that generally don't prosper from it anyway."
Schefter: "I think everyone knows about the need at the wide receiver position. They obviously released Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins. They needed receivers to begin with. So, there's no question they need playmakers on that side of the football at that position, and then of course the big contractual question is with Justin Houston. You cannot allow him to get away and they won't allow him to get away. He's going to be back in Kansas City. The question is, is it a long-term deal or is it the franchise tag?"
On what can be accomplished in free agency
Caplan:"Receiver-wise, it looks good, but most of those players are either going to get their franchise tag, in the case of Dez Bryant, I think that's where that's headed. And the other guys are sort of mid-level free agency. A guy that I really like Cecil Shorts of the Jaguars, who is probably the second-wide receiver tier. You can line him up inside or outside. I think he'd be an Andy Reid-type player. Very high character, tough, he has an injury history. That's why the Jaguars are going to move on from him, but he's a nice mid-level free agent who I think would be a great fit for the Chiefs. He'd be a starter and he's a guy that I think fans would love. He is tough. I had a chance to meet him at Jaguars training camp. A very, very smart football player who could pick up the Chiefs' West Coast offense if they need to."
La Canfora:"I don't know that they're going to go crazy in free agency. I don't really know that that's going to be the path that they're able to take because of some cap issues and because of having to reinvest in some of these other guys. If you're at a point and you have limited resources, you have to decide, is it best to reinvest in the guys we already know who are already a scheme fit, who are already a locker room fit, who are already leaders here, or do we go and give that money to someone on the outside and risk losing some of these core guys down the road?"
Schefter: "The problem is that a lot of the names that are on the market are going to come off the market quickly. Larry Fitzgerald was somebody that might have been out there and he's going to get a restructured deal done with Arizona and then Andre Johnson may have to restructure, but then that will probably get done with Houston. And Randall Cobb may get done with Green Bay and Jeremy Maclin may get done with Philadelphia and Demaryius Thomas gets tagged, and Dez Bryant gets tagged. All of a sudden, the guys that were the best free agents at that position aren't really available. So now you're down to the second-tier guys and then you have to say, 'Are you better off drafting wide receivers? Are you better off trading for a wide receiver?' You have to figure it out. Again, the Chiefs know that's important, to go find a wide receiver or two or three, and the question is what avenues and outlets you want to use to go get one?"
Photos of Clark Hunt, John Dorsey and Andy Reid.
On what the Chiefs may be looking for in the draft
Bowen: "At wide receiver, Kevin White, West Virginia, Amari Cooper, Alabama. Dorial Green-Beckham from Missouri, who has had some off-the-field issues, but if he interviews well, if he does well in his private workouts and has that football character you're looking for, you're talking about a guy that is 6-5, 237 pounds. He's an outside linebacker playing wide receiver. You don't find those guys. DeVante Parker from Louisville. There are guys that catch the ball and make plays. Phillip Dorsett. Now Phillip Dorsett, I really liked him at the Senior Bowl. He doesn't have that size. He's a smaller guy, but I will tell you what. He might run a low 4.4 or a high 4.3 this week. He's going to grab some people's attention."
Brooks: "Well obviously, when you let go of two wide receivers that played a lot for you, then you have a guy that may be uncertain in terms of Dwayne Bowe, you have to address that wide receiver position. You need to find some playmakers, some guys that could put the ball in the paint, guys that are very, very explosive. So then you don't have to rely so much on the tight end. I think there are a number of guys in the draft that can do that."
La Canfora: "I don't know that you can really focus on one particular position when you're picking where they are (Number 18). It's one thing when you're picking in the top five or where they have picked recently. But, you have some success, you start picking a little lower. I think the teams that have the most sustained success followed their scouts, followed their eyes, followed their evaluations, take the best player they have on their board … Need factors in somewhat, but you build the best roster you can and then figure out ways to massage things and help it along … Obviously, offensively, weapons. Where are the big plays going to come from? Where are they getting the downfield passes? Are they going to be able to jump in the end zone from 20 or 30 yards out? Those explosive plays. That's been missing. It's there in the run game, obviously with Jamaal Charles, but continuing to beef up the offensive line and then creating some real spark in making them a more difficult team to defend in the passing game."
Miller: "I don't think you should be surprised with anything the Chiefs do in the draft because last year everyone thought they would go receiver and they go outside linebacker. They started to look at value and future need at a position. I think with Dorsey coming from that Green Bay background, you're always going to have to look at best player available and I do think it's best player available at a position of need, so that could be receiver, it could be offensive line; it could be secondary. There are enough needs in Kansas City that you don't get in a position where you have to reach and take a receiver who maybe you have graded as the 40th best player and you're trying to draft him at 18, so it does set up nicely for them I think."
On what can be taken away from the week-long scouting combine
Bowen: "You're not going to see them in pads, you're not going to see them compete. It's drills. It's 40 times. The medical is very important. You can't hide any injuries anymore here. The interview process. Getting to know players. The written exam, the physical exams. It's all part of the grading process. What you do is you take a guy, say it's a wide receiver. Let's say he runs a 4.4 here, but you watch him on film saying 'Well, maybe he's 4.6.' Then you have a problem and do more tape, or if you have a guy who looked like a 4.5 guy on film and he runs a 4.4, again, go back to your tape. You take it all and you put it together. That's what the great scouts do." **
Brooks: "It's a huge week. It's a huge opportunity for evaluators to not only watch what guys are doing on the turf but really, you want to get an opportunity to get to know them. This is the first chance you get to sit down in front of them, figure out who they are, figure out what makes them tick, are they passionate about football? Understand what kind of character they are going to bring to the table. Once you get that part of it, it makes it easier to put the pieces of the puzzle together when you watch the tape."
Miller:"I really think the big thing is height and weight. Everyone wants to get accurate listings on that because the colleges always fudge on these guys a little bit, so that's important. But I really think the interview process is most important here, the 40-yard dash is going to get hyped up. The bench press is going to get hyped up, but the interview process is super important and the medical examinations. Getting these guys in to have like a baseline medical exam, for teams to be able to check out any past injuries, I think that's more important than some of these events that get all the television time and all the radio time. But they're harder to document, harder to talk about."
Schefter: "I think that they have a lot of questions that they want to ask a lot of these players, and I think they want to sit down and get a feel for them. Like anybody in a meeting, you just want to feel the presence of that person and get an idea of whether you like them or don't like them. I think as much as anything, so much is you want to decide where you're going to pick them, you eliminate certain guys too and that is a bigger thing. 'That's a guy that we're not going to be picking.'"
Current Chiefs at the NFL combine throughout the years.