And now onto Offensive Tackle…

I imagine this thread will get the most action of any so far…. Most Chiefs fan’s would agree that there is a glaring need to upgrade our Offensive line at either OG , OT or Both. Weather your stance is you are happy with Albert at LT, and just want Richardson replaced, or you just want to look at RT, there is no doubt that Chiefs fan’s can collectively agree we should see some OT additions this off season. After this report on KC An overhaul of the offensive line looks to be in store for 2012 with Casey Wiegmann likely to retire, Barry Richardson set to hit free agency and general manager Scott Pioli telling a local radio station last week that, “We have to improve our offensive line.” I think it’s safe to say we will be seeing some movement at the position soon…

Again I will look at both Free Agency and the Draft, naming multiple players that I feel fit the mold of “the right 53” as well as a background, and how and why I feel they might end up in KC.

Free Agency:

Max Starks OT (PIT)
Originally a 3rd round draft choice of the Steelers Starks is a mammoth of a man. At 6’8” 345 the Giant has been recorded as heavy as 370lbs post lock-out! Which actually led the Steelers to cut him this last offseason. Starks worked hard to get back into football shape, and was granted a 2nd chance in week 4 after the Steelers found themselves in need of help at OT and Ben Rothlesberger spoke out in support of re-signing the 8 year veteran (he returned to start the remaining 12 games as well as the Playoff loss to Denver at LT). It says a lot about a player’s talent to have the Quarterback want him on the team protecting his blind-side. Starks has been a versatile player playing both LT and RT in 8 seasons with the Steelers, and has notched 80 starts in 107 career games, and has appeared in every game as a Steeler (that I am aware of). Starks. Possesses a high character while serving on the Board of Directors for a charity he first became involved in while at the University of Florida.

At 30 years old, I do not expect Starks to be the future at RT… However, aside from this years weight issue, there are no known character/work ethic problems, and you would have to think he has learned his lesson. If the Steelers let him walk last season they may feel they can let him walk again, and Starks seems like the type of veteran that could have an instant impact at our RT position for 2-3 years allowing us to develop a young draft pick this year, or a player like David Mims.

Levi Brown OT (ARI)
Originally the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft out of Penn State, the 6’6” 330lb OT has played a majority of his career at RT for the Arizona Cardinals, until recently switching to the LT position in 2010. At the age of 27 He has 73 starts in 71 career games. The Cardinals should make a big push to re-sign the OT they spent the 5th overall pick on, and with the lower amount of talent within this years Free Agency crop at the OT position, it may take more than what the Chiefs would be willing to pay to get the tackle under contract, and most teams may target him as a LT instead of RT as the Chiefs would look to do. If the Chiefs were to sign Brown, they would do so with the hopes of locking the OT position up for the foreseeable future, putting them in a position to look into the later rounds of the draft to target developmental players at the position.

Outside of Starks and Brown there isn’t a whole lot of talent available at the OT position in free agency this year. Names like Kareem McKenzie (32 years old) who is well past his prime, Kahlif Barnes (29 years old, 4 seasons with jags, 3 with raiders) who has seemed to under perform throughout his career, and is more than likely set on the “Raider Way” of undisciplined football, and Demetrius Bell, who is only 26, and shown promise, but has been hampered by injuries throughout his first few seasons; will create buzz, but will lack the talent that their names have been known to produce.

I think we can all agree that the top OT in this year’s class is Matt Kalil, the younger brother of the Carolina Panthers’ pro bowl OC Ryan Kalil. As well, I think most would agree that he will be off the board by the time the Chiefs pick comes around. So I will skip the scouting report on him…

Round 1:

Riley Reiff
(rJr.) (6’6” 300LBS) Iowa

The versatile prospect earned multiple Freshman All-American notice in his redshirt freshman season of 2009, while starting 11 of 13 games for the Hawkeyes at both the Left and Right tackle positions, as well as Left Guard. Reiff followed up his freshman season by staking his claim at the LT position vacated by Green Bay Packers 1st round selection Bryan Bullaga. The close connection between Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Iowa’s head football coach Kirk Ferentz, drew conversations of a high likelihood for Bullaga to land in KC back in 2010, these connections will remain a source that should warrant even more conversation about Reiff ending up in KC, as Reiff’s scouting reports tend to be a bit higher graded than Bullaga’s were when he entered the draft.

From CBS “Possessing NFL size (6’6”, 300lbs), Sound technique, and better athleticism than Bullaga, Reiff is viewed by scouts as a pro-ready tackle capable of helping immediately at either left or right tackle….. Plays with the nastiness offensive line coaches love. Willing to back up teammates on the field.”
From what I have heard, Reiff is a hard worker, and the only known character concern happened his before his redshirt season in July, when he was charged with public intoxication (I assumed he was a young kid who made a mistake and couldn’t control his alcohol) has not had any known incidents since… Reiff could come in and immediately man the RT position, while challenging Albert at the LT position.

Jonathan Martin
(rJr.) (6’6” 305lbs) Stanford
Arguably the 2nd rated OT over Reiff, and Behind Kalil, Martin may see his draft stock slide slightly due to projected lower post-season workout results. While the workouts may not prove Martin to be an elite athlete, the tackle has the work ethic, size, intelligence, and nasty streak that will allow him to handle himself at the next level, and could project as either a LT or RT. Having one of the most important positions in the country the last two years with protecting the Blind Side of the projected #1 overall pick Andrew Luck, the attention has paid off, propelling him to one of the top OT prospects on the radar of NFL Scouts. In a system similar to the Chiefs, Martin is an excellent run blocker, and solid in pass protection. Gaining starting experience with 11 starts in 13 games of his redshirt Freshman season, and continuing to remain the mainstay at LT for the remainder of his career with the Cardinals,

Martin possesses the starting experience that Pioli seems to like. With an overall high general and football intelligence, as well as high character and work ethic, projected to come off the board somewhere in the 10-20 range, the likelihood of seeing Martin line up on the right side for the Chiefs next season could be a good one.

Rounds 2-3

Zebrie Sanders
(Sr.) (6’5” 307lbs) Florida State
Shooting up in rankings for reasons I don’t know, Starting 10 games at RT his true freshman season, as well as all 38 games in his So., Jr., and Sr. campaigns, Sanders was first ranked in late 30’s-early 40’s overall, but has recently shot up to a 30 overall ranking according to CBS The main reason I am putting Sanders on this list is due to the Chiefs selecting former Florida State interior lineman Rodney Hudson in last years draft. There are two (Sanders, and Andrew Datko) Florida State OT’s projected to land in the top 100, and you have to think that the Chiefs took notice, while scouting Hudson last season. His reviews still have me puzzled as to why he is rated to high… with comments such as “He will not be an elite prospect, however, unless he improves his foot quickness and knee bend, as NFL veterans will take advantage of such flaws….” And “Sanders learned a lot of unwanted attention late in the 2009 season after he stayed in his stance through an entire play against Florida, even after everyone else got mobile.” The main Draw for Sanders is the fact that he has 4 years of starting experience in the tough SEC.

Andre Datko
(Sr.) (6’6” 321lbs) Florida State
Labeled as Florida State’s “bookend” offensive tackle prospect, I feel Datko is more likely to land on the Chiefs roster over the before mentioned Sanders… Also a 4 year starter, Datko manned the LT position for the Seminoles throughout his entire career, next to last years Chiefs 2nd round pick Rodney Hudson. Shows a fluid ability to mirror pass rushers and block effectively at the 2nd level. Excellent at pulling and trapping, which helps with his blocking in the run game and screens (which will be nice to have for McCluster and Charles). The Sr. OT has been labeled by his coaching staff as a “tireless” worker, which seems more likely of a trait that Pioli will like. Datko is projected as anywhere from a mid 2nd to early 3rd round pick. In my opinion, why would we add the RT of a team, when we have the ability to add the LT, who are generally more athletic and talented. By adding Datko, we could solidify the RT position, while adding depth at LT, rather than adding Sanders, who has only played one game at the LT position.

Brandon Mosley
(Sr.) Auburn (6’5” 305lbs)
A versatile raw athlete, who started his college career as a defensive end for Coffeyville Community College (KS), made a switch halfway through the 2009 season to TE and managed to earn all-conference honors at the position, despite only ½ a season at the position. He was offered a shot to join the University of Auburn football program after the 2009 season, and was brought in primarily as a TE. Shortly after showing up on the Auburn campus, Mosley found the coaching staff asking him to gain weight and make a move to OT. He began to quickly excel at the position, and soon unseated another juco transfer (Roszell Gayden) who had garnered more hype upon signing with Auburn than Mosley. After 3 weeks, Mosley solidified his position and remained the starter at the RT position for the remaining 11 games (including the National Championship) as well as every game this season (has played at LT as well).

The Auburn coaching staff supposedly raved about his preparation and work ethic they witnessed as he pushed and took over the OT position in his first year with the program. Is reportedly (as you would imagine a former TE to be) talented at Pulling/trapping and downfield blocking.

Mosley may or may not be able to come in immediately and solidify the RT position, and with a 3rd round pick, we would hope for someone that could. I think Mosley would come in and (if we have not filled the position elsewhere) could be thrust into the RT position, and we may have to live with his growing pains… but It’s not something unfamiliar to Chiefs fans at the RT position…. The big difference with Mosely would be that his ceiling seems to be much higher than Richardson’s.

Rounds 5-6

Markus Zusevics
(Sr.) Iowa (6’5” 296lbs)
Entering his college career as t top-50 O-lineman coming out of High school, Zusevics had to work extremely hard to get to the point he is at right now. Although garnering the high ranking, Zusevics showed up to campus undersized for an OT at only 225lbs. Working hard both on-an off the field, he has but on 75 total pounds, and may actually need to put on more if he plans to line up at an OT position in the NFL. The idea that Zusevics could be brought in to line up at both and Interior lineman, or a RT prospect will intrigue Pioli, who loves versatility, and has the Iowa connection to get the scoop on this kid. Has played in every game since his sophomore season, and started every game since his Jr. season (except 1 which he missed with the Flu).
Plays with good disciplined awareness and intelligence. Feisty and tough and plays with a competitive attitude and looks to Finish.

As mentioned before, he has the Iowa connection with Pioli who has taken at least 1 Iowa player from both of the previous year’s draft classes (last year: Stanzi, 2010: Moeaki), if we don’t see the Chiefs take a chance on Rieff in the 1st round, It’s likely we see this guy land on our roster in rounds 5-6. Has a high character, and work ethic, who will work hard to get to a starting position and hold that position. Would be a great prospect to bring in for both interior and RT positions.