Chiefs draft helps, but it doesnt fill all the gaps
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star
With every sack, every feeble rushing play, every three-and-out series, the Chiefs resolved they would take this offseason to fix their forlorn offense.
They would repair their decrepit offensive line, they would give Brodie Croyle the tools to succeed as an NFL starting quarterback, they would take some of the considerable burden off their overtaxed defense.
Despite the Chiefs’ elation over their recent 12-player draft, their efforts are coming under question.
“You can only do so much in the draft,” said former Washington and Houston general manager Charley Casserly. “It’s still a work in progress. They got better where they could get better.”
Yet it’s difficult — if not impossible — to argue the Chiefs will be better on offense. They do have some reasons for optimism. They traded an offensive coordinator learning on the job, Mike Solari, for a proven veteran, Chan Gailey.
Running back Larry Johnson won’t be a holdout again and — if the law of averages prevails — won’t miss half the season because of a foot injury. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe could be even better than he was as a rookie.
Elsewhere, the Chiefs appear held together with a lot of wishful thinking. Croyle has yet to win a game or prove he’s a high-quality NFL starter. The offensive line still has holes. The Chiefs are relying on a boost from two third-round draft picks, running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Brad Cottam.
“Can you get everything you want in the draft? No,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. “But we got a lot. We got some tight ends. We think we’re better there. We’ve got another runner. The problem is they’re all young, but that’s OK.”
It's gonna be OK, Herm.
The offensive line, the source of many ills last year, was to be the focal point. But Branden Albert, the second of two first-round draft picks, is the only newcomer of impact.
I love it. How has he already made an impact? Has someone seen him play an NFL game? Help me out here.
Albert will join Brian Waters and Damion McIntosh in the starting lineup. The two other starters will come from a group of journeymen and young players that includes Wade Smith, Herb Taylor, Anthony Alabi, Adrian Jones, Rudy Niswanger and Will Svitek.
They hoped to draft several linemen but wound up with Albert and sixth-round tackle Barry Richardson.
“The best thing they did was stay disciplined in the draft,” Casserly said. “They could have gone and drafted five offensive linemen right off the bat, but if they did that, maybe four of them can’t play. What good does that do for them?
Maybe neither one of the two we got can play. We don't know yet. Who knows if a college player that spent the majority of his time at guard can play tackle in the NFL.
“There was an elite group of offensive linemen in the draft this year. The Chiefs got one of them. That group went faster than anybody thought. So if they would have drafted an offensive lineman in the second round, they would have been getting a third- or fourth-round offensive lineman. They didn’t do that, and they should be commended for that.”
Since late last season, the Chiefs also added Smith as a free agent and Alabi and Jones off waivers. Two of those players could wind up starting.
“It’s not like we haven’t signed some guys that are pretty decent football players,” Gailey said. “Nobody’s proven it yet, but we think they have a chance to help us.
“The one thing Herm and Carl (Peterson, president/general manager) and Bill (Kuharich, vice president of player personnel) didn’t want to do was reach for somebody just because it would have been nice to have another one.”
Bowe, meanwhile, is the Chiefs’ only proven wide receiver.
Their other receivers are Jeff Webb, free-agent addition Devard Darling, former Arena League star Bobby Sippio, Maurice Price, fourth-round pick Will Franklin, sixth-round choice Kevin Robinson and three undrafted free agents.
“Bowe had a good year last year,” Edwards said. “We’ve brought some guys in. We drafted (Will Franklin). (Maurice) Price was a young guy we had hope for last year and he got hurt. We brought in Darling. We have some guys.
We have some guys. Let's hope we have some receivers. Does anyone think Bowe and Gonzo won't be the focal point for any defensive scheme against us? What else are we going to do besides hand the ball off. I'm not going to be quick to praise this receiving corps.
“I’m comfortable with the guys we have, but we’ll continue to look. There will be some guys available June 1. If we look at these guys all through (offseason practices) and minicamp and no one has really taken that No. 2 spot and run with it, we might go and bring somebody in.”
Ok. Who? Who is available now?
The Chiefs have already talked about Charles being the big-play threat at running back that neither Johnson nor Kolby Smith is. They once had similar hopes for Michael Bennett, but that never materialized in large part because of their dependence on Johnson.
For now, the Chiefs sound determined to make Charles part of the plan.
“He can score from anywhere on the field,” Gailey said. “He’s got that kind of speed. And he’s better between the tackles than I think people give him credit for even though he’s only 200 pounds.”
I'm excited to see Charles play. If we can get him space when he has the ball, he should be a homerun threat. I have heard he has problems holding on to the ball though.