And now we move on to the ILB’s
With DJ coming on for a career season (179 tclks), and his first Pro Bowl birth as a pro, We’ve got it set on the strong side of ILB. But when you look at our Defense as a whole and try to point out specific positions in need of an upgrade there aren’t many to point out. Yeah we need some depth at Safety, but Lewis and Berry have those positions locked for the time being, and people claim we need to upgrade our DE’s, but Ryfo has already posted a thread with stats that show Dorsey & Jackson as the #1 and #2 3-4 DE’s in the league, and recent comments from Romeo sound like he is pretty happy with their play.
Although I like Belcher and his road to becoming a starter, and we haven’t seen Brandon Siler (although I can’t imagine he would be that much of a beast not to address the position) I’m looking at ILB and NT (which I will address in another post) as our Defensive positions that could use immediate upgrades at the starting spot.
I think to myself… If we could land an impact ILB to pair with DJ, we could arguably have one of the best LB corps in the NFL (Hali, DJ, Impact Addition, & Houston) 3-4 Defenses are based on the Talent at the LB position… We can’t have enough talented LB’s on this team which is another reason why I consider this a position of need.
Curtis Lofton (ATL)-
At only 25 years old, Lofton is one of the Premier ILB’s in the league averaging 123 tot tckls in 4 seasons (147 this year). An Oklahoma Native may give him reasons to head back to the Mid-West (we can hope haha). Even though DJ had his best season as a pro he is 29 years old, and will eventually begin to diminish with 2-3 years. It will take some money to Bring in Lofton, but the idea of pairing this machine with DJ for 2-4 year is enticing. Not to mention the ability to have him take over for DJ for a few more seasons after he is gone. I don’t have many connections to mention that may cause him to land here except for Emmit Thomas’s time in Atlanta during Lofton’s early years, as the Assistant HC/DB’s Coach, and eventually the Interim HC before coming to KC.
D’Qwell Jackson (CLE)-
A former 2nd round draft choice of Crennel while the HC in Cleveland, you have to think that he is ready to play for a contender, and the Chiefs are much closer than the Browns at this point in time. After missing the 2010 season being placed on IR new Browns coach Pat Shurmer chose to re-sign the free agent last off-season for 1 more year, he replied by posting monster numbers (158 tot tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT) and you would have to think Shurmer would want him back (making it hard to have him land elsewhere). This is the same sort of idea as with Lofton… Pairing Jackson with DJ would be crazy, the only difference is at only 1 year younger than Johnson, you can’t count on him as a successor, and may be put in a situation to look for 2 LB’s around the same point in time. This of course is highly dependant on if Crennel will remain with the Chiefs as either the HC or DC.
EJ Henderson (MIN)-
At 31 years of age, It’s safe to say that Henderson is more than likely past his prime, but not far past, has posted 110 tot tackles and 3 FF this season and has quietly averaged 99 tot tackles in 7 full seasons with the Vikings (2 seasons not accounted for. IR and Rookie). It would be a more cap friendly route for the Chiefs to sign Henderson (Rather than Lofton or Jackson), and could expect to gain another 1-2 productive seasons from the Viking. If the Chiefs opt to sign a mid-level free agent like Henderson I think you expect us to target a developmental player in the middle rounds, and continue to rotate Belcher. The connection that could bring Henderson here as well is Emmit Thomas, who was the Defensive Coordinator in Minnesota that drafted Henderson in the 2nd round of the 2003 Draft. (Have we ever thought if Romeo becomes the HC, Emmit Thomas becoming the DC??? Never know)
If the Chiefs choose not to target an Impact FA at ILB, I think we could say it would be a possibility to see them target one high in the draft. Of Course if they do, they may also target one in the draft, it might just be a little later…
Setting at either Pick 11 or 12, the ILB’s rated in this years class may be a stretch to take here, so If we land one, I think it may be a result of trading back.
Luke Kuechly (“Keek-ly”) (Jr.) Boston College (6’2” 237lbs 4.80 40 time)-(Has not Yet Declared)
One of the top ILB’s in the contry is projected to be more of a 4-3 MLB, but figured I would list him as well, since his talent level is so high. Leading the nation in tackles each of the past two seasons, was named this year as the winner of the Butkus Award (top LB in the nation) and the Lombardi award (top Lineman/LB). Recorded a School and ACC record 532 tackles in 3 seasons with Boston College, and is projected as more of a 4-3 MLB due to his high football intelligence. Exceptional on-field and off field work ethic has become the vocal leader on the field. Would be a great successor to DJ, and could take over a leadership role after our core group is gone.
Donta’ Hightower (rJr.) Alabama (6’4” 260lbs 4.67 40 time)-
Started 12 of 14 Games for the Crimson Tide as a True Freshman in 2008, had his 2009 season cut short after her tore his ACL (Only 4 Starts). Is a versitle player that has been said has the ability to play both inside and outside in a 3-4 system, and Pioli likes versatility (especially with the injuries we had this season) Led the team in 2010 with 69 Tackles, and this season as well with 79 3 sacks and 1 INT, Which is tough to do with a defense that has as much talent as Alabama does. Already used to a 3-4 system with Nick Saban coaching him he should have no problems making an instant impact.
From Mocking the Draft.com: “He’s a classic downhill power middle linbacker that can be a force against the run….play’s with a lot of strength and can hold his area or push the pocket. He’s also shown he can get into the backfield to get after the QB. His versatility has been shown after being used as the team’s Jack Linebacker to utilize his ability off the edge”
Vontaze Burfict (Jr.) Arizona State (6’3” 250lbs 4.67 40 time)-
An intense ILB prospect that plays with a tenacity that will set the tone and identity of a defense. Has drawn comparisons to longtime Batlimore Ravens ILB Raw Lewis, who spoke to Burfct about being disciplined while playing with an edge. Appeared in all 12 games of his true freshman season, while starting 9, finished second on the team with 69 tackles, two sacks, 7 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and 5 pass breakups. Followed his outstanding freshman season in 2010 leading the team with 90 tackles, 8.5 tackle for loss, 2 FF, and 3 pass breakups landing him as the sporting news pac-10 defensive mvp. 2011 was more of a downer only notching 68 tackles and no season honors.
And now for the bad news….While playing with an attitude that would be coveted by defenses looking for a player to set the tone, tends to let his emotions get the best of him and has been known to draw many personal foul penalties for un-disciplined actions such as late hits, and talking to officials disrespectfully. Was removed from the starting lineup for 1 game in 2010 for head-butting Oregon State QB Ryan Katz, as well as drawing 2 personal fouls in the 2011 regular-season finale against call which caused him to be benched for the final 24 minutes of the game, and held out of the teams bowl game loss to Boise State. On top of the character concerns, CBS Sports.com quotes: “He’s not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build, and hasn’t shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus.”
While Burfict would be a great addition to the Chiefs D. I think Pioli will need to do his homework, to ensure Burfict doesn’t wind up on the sideline in critical games for the chiefs, and well as if he has reached his potential. If he can continue to improve and mature, I think he may be a beneficial addition to this Defense in the 2nd or 3rd round (which has been reported to be possible with the concerns surrounding him), but not the 1st.
James-Micheal Johnson (r.Sr.) Nevada (6’1” 240lbs 4.68 40 time)-
Johnson and Johnson anyone An experienced and intelligent 5th year player, gained 4 years of starting experience after redshirting his freshman year in 2007 (10 starts in 08”). Was elected as team captain his Junior season, and became the vocal leader of the team both on and off the field. He possesses a love for the game with strong work ethic, does his homework in the film room, and puts in the extra time in the weight room. Has no known character concerns. Is a versatile player that has played both inside and outside linebacker. Is decent in all area’s of the game, but with experience could become a quality starter. Johnson would be targeted in a later round, as a developmental prospect and rotate with Belcher.
Emanuel Acho Texas (Sr.) Texas (6’2” 245lbs 4.79 40 time)
The younger brother of Arizona Cardinals 4th round selection last season Sam Acho, Has gotten his chance to show his talents for the Longhorns this season. The main draw for Acho is his bloodline, and family history that shows his strong character, leadership, and work ethic that he and his brother both posses. The one drawback is that he is projected more as a 4-3 MLB, but doesn’t rule out 3-4 teams to target as well. He has gained multiple First-Team Academic All Big-12 honors, and has gained playing time in every season as a long horn. Also a developmental player, the youth and leadership that Acho could provide would be beneficial after DJ has moved on.
Jerry Franklink Arkansas (rSr.) Arkansas (6’1” 245lbs 4.60 40time)
Has led the team in tackles and started all but one game at MLB for the Razorbacks since his Redshirt Freshman season (leading tackler 4years in a row!). has received multiple SEC honors throughout his career, and has the fastest 40 time of any of the prospects listed on this post. Has been scouted to have above-average inticnts in all areas of the game, as well as possessing a natural feel for the game. Has been a standout in the tough SEC, and Is projected as an ILB in a 3-4 Defense. Could not find if he was a captain or not, but has no character issues that I could find.
Alright lets get some thoughts???