Some good arguments have been made for taking a defensive end, a safety, a WR or even a guard with the first draft pick. Here are my thoughts.
Let's look back at last season. Before the bye our defense played very well and the team gave up an average of 10.6 ppg. Even though the offense only averaged 23.9 ppg (and many of those points were generated by the defense and special teams) the Chiefs went 9-0. It's true that the defense benefitted from weak competition. It is also true that the offense was learning a brand new playbook and were handcuffed by a vey vanilla, basic, do-just-enough-to-win game plan. But the fact is that with great defensive play and not much offense, the Chiefs were undefeated.
After the bye Reid took the handcuffs off and we got to see just what the offense was capable of. Unfortunately, this was at the same time that we lost Houston and then Hali the very next week, just in time to face some of the very best offenses in the NFL. The offense averaged 30.7 ppg, yet we only went 2-5 over that stretch. In fact, in the only two games we won, we scored 45 and 56 points. There is no clearer illustration of the old cliche that defense wins football games than this.
Without Hali and Houston our defense couldn't pressure the QB, our secondary was exposed, and good QBs tore us up. Not being able to get off of the field, the defense would tire quickly and that just made them look even worse. With everyone healthy, the defense was pretty good, but a few injuries exposed our lack of depth. (My Bears went through the same thing last year, losing four of their starting front seven.)
All of this tells me that we need to focus on defense. We certainly need to replace Kendick Lewis, but just about anybody (including some players that we may already have on our roster) would be an upgrade over him. But a solid pass rush hides a lot of flaws in the secondary, forces the QB to rush his passes or throw the ball away, improves field position, and creates turnovers through fumbles and interceptions. T-Jax needs to be replaced and I'm not sure Vance Walker is an upgrade over him. While he didn't get many sacks, he was very good at tieing up blockers, allowing Hali, Houston and Berry to blitz the QB, and solid at stuffing the run. With him gone we have the perfect opportunity to get a DE (like Tuitt) that can get to the QB himself, taking some of the pressure off of the linebackers and allowing them to cover the pass, or stuff the run at the line of scrimmage.
As far as LBs go, more depth would be good, but with the "nickel" (and sometimes the "dime") package being used so much, I think we are ok with what we have for this year, provided Hali and Houston don't both get hurt at the same time again. I think I would maybe bring in a FA for depth after the draft or pick one up after the first round of cuts in preseason and wait on drafting one until next year, when we wil have far more picks and, hopefully, fewer holes to fill.
A star WR would certainly make our offense better, but, as I have just shown, it doesn't matter how good our offense is if our defense can't stop the other team, and the Broncos showed that in the Super Bowl as well. Add to this the fact that the Chiefs have a run heavy (or at least it should be) ball control west coast style offense that emphatizes the TEs and uses the WRs less, and drafting another WR becomes even less of a priority.
I get the impression that those who are hollering for a WR want us to have an offense like Denver has, that scores quickly and trots the defense back out there to give up another touchdown. That's not what the Chiefs offense is. That's not who Andy Reid is and, as much as some of you would like to turn him into Peyton Manning, that's not who Alex Smith is.
If we go offense with the first pick, a guard is more of a priority than a WR, but, after taking an OT with the first pick, last year, I don't think anyone wants to see that. The problem with O-linemen is that they are so hit-and-miss that a 4th round pick is just about as likely to be as good as a first round pick and a first rounder is as likely to be a bust as a third rounder. So I don't hink we should risk possibly wasting a first round pick on a guard.
It's not that we shouldn't try to develop a great o-line. In the early 2000s we had that and our offense was great. Since losing Roaf, Waters, Shields, etc. we haven't had a great o-line, or a great offense. The Bears replaced 4 of their starting 5 o-linemen and, in one year, went from one of the worst offenses to the 2nd highest scoring offense in the NFL. They did take OG Kyle Long in the first round, but OT jordan Mills wasn't selected until the 5th round and both are very good starters. They also picked up two o-linemen in FA. Fortunately we don't have four holes to fill on our o-line; just one.
So, in summary, to me it's a no brainer. A good pass rusher gives the team the most return on their investment. Free safety is a need, to be sure, but a great DE would make a huge difference and would help us beat Denver and San Diego. Let's not forget that those two teams accounted for 4 of our 5 losses, last year. Every game counts, but winning the division is a must. You aren't likely to beat the Donkeys in a shootout. You have to stop them with defense.
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