The Chiefs are at a fork in the road. The way I see it, Pioli and Hunt need to decide this offseason how far this team is from competing with the big boys in the playoffs. The draft, and probably the immediate futures of Herm Edwards, TG, and LJ, will depend largely on their evaluation.
They have to choose between two options. Scenario 1: we are a few players and coaches away from competing with the likes of the Steelers, Ravens, Colts, etc. Or Scenario 2: we are nowhere near competing with them and it will take at least 2-3 years before we can get the personnel in place.
I think these two options really determine who we will draft in rounds 1-2 and maybe 3. Players like QBs and DL take a few years to develop into impact players. LBs, OL, DBs, RBs and some WRs can make an impact in their rookie years.
Scenario 1: This means we need to draft/shop for players that can contribute right away. By this I dont mean older vets, but rather use our early draft picks on people who can contribute immediately (OL, LBs, RBs, DBs, etc) and fill the other positions with younger, proven free agents (DL, QB, etc.). If we go with this scenario, it would not be worth spending the first, or maybe even the second round pick on a DE or QB. They likely wont be able to make an impact until their 3rd season. LBs, OL can make a big impact in their rookie season. There is much less of a learning curve. If this is where they think we are, it would be smarter to draft immediate impact players now and spend money on FAs in the other positions. This also means that we will try to keep TG and LJ depending on how his upcoming trial works out. Herm may be out now in this scenario, because they will want someone who can be an immediate contributor.
Scenario 2: This means it will be a year or two before we are contenders, so we can afford to draft players early that will take time to develop, but we know will be good when they do develop. This means a QB or DE with the 1st couple of picks. If we dont think we will be in the hunt next year, this would give them time to develop. Of course it will not hurt to bring in some vets to teach them the ropes. Also, if we think it will take awhile, I think that means Herm is safe for this year, because has been decent with evaluating players and is well liked. TG and LJ would probably be sent packing for whatever draft picks we can get in this scenario.
Personally, I think we are in the first scenario. A DE, two LBs and two OL and we will be in contention next year. We should be able to get at least a top notch DE and one LB in FA, maybe an OL. In the 1st and 2nd rounds we go LB and OT, not necessarily in that order, Grab the top G or C available in the third round. In the later rounds we draft for depth with BPA, maybe look for a RB or KR.