If you haven't been around long, then you probably don't know... I try to do one of these "offseason plans" at the end of each offseason. I usually do a mock free agency along with a mock draft based on the assumption that I get the guys I want.
A little about my philosophy: In free agency, I want younger talent. I'm looking for guys who are coming off their rookie contract or looking for their 3rd contract at the most... anyone older than 28 has to be a special talent with proven longevity, a good locker room presence, and willing to be a mentor.
In the draft, I use the first 2-4 rounds as an extension of free agency. Any holes I haven't plugged in free agency, I try to address in the first 3 rounds of the draft. After the 3rd round, I'm usually looking for the best player on the board... someone with raw ability who can be groomed to be a starter in the future.
So, let's get started.
Starting with our own free agents:
Kyle Orton- Has shown to be a better QB than Matt Cassel and if nothing else, will provide Cassel some healthy competition going into camp. Doubt there's another team out there willing to hand the keys over to Orton, but you never know.
La'Ron McClain-We need a good FB with some running ability with the kind of run game the Chiefs expect to have. I thought he was a great sign in 2011 and didn't get to show what he brings to the table as a FB with the early loss of Charles. Probably could've been a pro bowl option for the AFC if he was properly utilized in front of Charles.
Wallace Gilberry- Probably won't cost too much to keep in the OLB/DE rotation. Gilberry is a depth guy the Chiefs should hold on to.
Jon McGraw-Another good depth guy that provides a lot on special teams as well.
Brandon Carr- (*franchise tag if needed) the guy is on his way to elite status and locking him up opposite Flowers on the other side, the Chiefs will be 3/4 set in their primary defensive secondary.
Thomas Jones- Didn't provide much in 2012 and another year older won't help his cause.
Dwayne Bowe- While he has all the tools to be an elite WR, to me, he just hasn't put it all together... whether it be a poor OC, HC, or QB play, he just doesn't scream ELITE to me and although it is a tough decision, I'd prefer to spend money elsewhere.
Free Agents Signed:
OG-Carl Nicks/Ben Grubbs- One way or another, we need to replace Wiegman in 2012 and Lilja in 13. Signing one of the top OGs on the market would go a long way in helping to solidify this young, talented Oline... just need a RT after that.
S-LaRon Landry-I don't think I'm the only one who was disgusted with our safety play in 2011. A lot of that had to do with injuries. However, there's no one on this roster capable of playing FS at a high level. Sticking Landry in a defensive backfield with the killer Bs would be the perfect fit for another ball hawk who can rely on his all-pro teammates to do their jobs. (others include Brandon Meriweather who was drafted by Pioli, Michael Griffin, Reggie Nelson)
WR-Reggie Wayne- Who better to show Baldwin how to be a pro? Wayne still has a few elite seasons left in him and that should be more than enough for the Chiefs to draft and groom his replacement sometime in the future. I'd rather spend money on Wayne and draft another WR than spend "elite WR" money on Bowe and his persona.
TE-Mercedes Lewis- Elite TE talent. If he isn't slapped with the franchise tag, he should be a top priority for this team. I really like Moeaki, but he came into the league with concerns about his health and 2011 showed those concerns to be valid. Lewis is 27 and has missed 3 games in 6 seasons... The lack of depth on this team was painfully obvious in 2011 and an upgrade at the #2 TE is warranted... whether it be Moeaki or Lewis.
NT-Paul Soliai- Is there any question that the Chiefs need to address their NT position? Gregg isn't the long-term answer there... and neither is Soliai... but he's a much better stop-gap until one can be drafted and groomed than Gregg.
Keeping an eye on:
LB Jon Beason
OG Jeremy Zuttah
Trade Glenn Dorsey to New England for pick #30.
Now, the draft:
1-ILB- Vontaze Burfict- The Chiefs have Hali, Johnson, and now the impressive rookie Justin Houston in their LB corp... add the extremely talented, nasty, and sometimes TOO aggressive Burfict to the group and you could have a top 5 group to go along with a top 5 secondary.
1-NT- Dontari Poe- FINALLY the Chiefs get a NT to anchor their D-line. There's nothing Pioli is going to do with Tyson Jackson. He's on the DL for better or worse. He can do something about the miscast Glenn Dorsey who he traded to NE for this pick who will utilize Dorsey better in a 4-3 system.
2-OT- Zebrie Sanders- Played both LT and RT at FSU and will immediately be capable of replacing Richardson at RT.
3-RB- Cyrus Gray- An injury during his senior campaign allows us to grab him with our fourth pick in the draft. This guy has elite capabilities and if he does, indeed fall this far, the Chiefs will be in the running for "steal of the draft."
4-WR- Jeff Fuller- Not sure why he's predicted to fall this far. He'd be higher on my draft board than just the 4th round, but here's where I start taking the best available players. I see inconsistencies and a couple minor injuries as the excuse, but this guy is the real deal and could blossom at the next level.
5-RB- LaMichael James- Probably a little small to be featured as the primary ball carrier, but my feeling toward players in the draft is that if they are making plays and names for themselves at the college level, they're at least worth a look in the latter rounds of the draft. With Battle doing very little to prove himself to be capable of carrying the load and the expected exit of Thomas Jones, getting Gray and James to come in and back up Charles would provide some great depth for this team that is expected to have an elite running game.
5(trade up from round 6)-WR Ryan Swope- The Chiefs are still looking for that true slot receiver and Swope is this year's annual "second coming of Wes Welker."
7-FB- Cody Johnson- McClain probably won't be here forever and this guy is a freakin tank who doesn't know how to lose yardage. Hand this guy the ball and the pile moves at least 2-3 yards. A PHENOMENAL short-yardage back that can help drives continue and solve those pesky red zone issues.
*quick note... I HATE Texas A&M... not sure why I have 3 of their players in my mock... however, if we could get them in those spots, I'd pull the trigger asap.
QB-Orton, Cassel, Stanzi
RB-Charles, Gray, James
WR-Wayne, Baldwin, Breaston, Fuller, Swope
NT-Paul Soliai, Poe, Powe,
DE-Jackson, Gilberry, Bailey, Gordon
In summation, I don't think targeting a select few free agents is out of the question. I picked 5 and the team could probably get by just fine without the additions of Lewis and Wayne and could even get by without Soliai if they were able to get a NT early in the draft. However, a Nicks/Grubbs type interior OL is absolutely necessary this spring IMO. Both Baltimore and New Orleans have some big names up for free agency this season... namely Drew Brees and Ray Rice that will prevent them from franchising these two guys. Go hard and heavy after both of them and take whoever signs first.
I know there's gonna be some gnashing of teeth over the Bowe decision, but I think Brandon Carr is more important and would rather reserve the franchise tag for him. The Chiefs have the cap room to sign Bowe and will probably do everything they can to keep him. I just don't know that I would put so many eggs in his basket. Is he REALLY going to be that elite guy you can count on to make that big catch? Don't get me wrong, he's talented and makes some great catches... but he also makes some really poor mistakes and seems to let his ego get in his way at times. Not sure that's the guy I want Baldwin emulating.
I'm excited by what I've seen from Gordon, Bailey, Gilberry, and Powe this season... not to mention Houston. This 2011 draft class for the Chiefs is going to be one we look back on and say "we need more of that kind of draft class." I was thrilled with the draft in April and even more excited after seeing so many of them perform at an above average level during their rookie seasons. I'm a BIG "defense first" kind of guy. Getting a guy like Burfict who could be our Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher... our unquestioned leader and QB of the defense is something I've been desperate for the Chiefs to bring on for the past decade. Getting a bonafide NT to anchor the D-Line is something else I've been screaming for since the decision was made clear that the Chiefs were headed in a 3-4 direction... and here I am again... 4th offseason in a row and saying the same thing.
It's nice to finally be in position with this franchise where we can start talking about depth instead of trying to just purely plug holes with warm bodies.
Hope y'all enjoyed the read.