Friday, July 22, 2011

Chiefs Position Battles

With the lockout nearing an end, it is once again okay to discuss football without mentioning the petty politics that have dominated any and all NFL talk this offseason.  Without wasting any time, let’s get into the position battles we can expect to see early on in camp!

Second Wide Receiver
Front Runner: Jonathan Baldwin
Next in Line: Chris Chambers
Long Shot: Verran Tucker, Kevin Curtis, Dexter McCluster

Breakdown:  Jonathan Baldwin is the front runner by default.  He has raw talent, great leaping ability, and above average speed.  Plus, he hasn’t squandered his opportunity to start yet, unlike Chris Chambers.  Chambers had a miserable 2010 as he seemed to have lost a step on his downfield speed and apparently forgot how to secure the ball.  He will most likely be given a chance to redeem himself if he looks good in camp, but if he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if the Chiefs decide to cut their losses and release him altogether.  Tucker is more of special teams/fourth wide receiver player and it’s doubtful he can handle the load of a number two receiver.  The only way Kevin Curtis makes the team is if all of the receivers appear incompetent.  He is past his prime and doesn’t offer anything Baldwin or Chambers can't provide.  Dexter Mccluster is a prototype slot receiver and Chiefs plan to keep him there unless injuries force him into the number two spot occasionally.

Front Runner: Mike Cox
Next in Line: Shane Bannon
Long Shot: Tim Castile

Breakdown:  Going into camp, Mike Cox has the most experience and is the best NFL proven blocker the Chiefs have at the position.  He has decent hands and isn’t afraid to run into the baddest linebackers in the league.  However, Cox is easily distracted and has been known to miss his block from time to time.  If Shane Bannon puts on a show in camp and preseason, the job is his.  It all depends on how he adapts to the speed and strength of the NFL.  He is a brutal blocker, has good hands, and moves like a gazelle for a 275 pounder.  Tim Castille probably has the best hands of the group, however, he lacks size and is terrified of contact.  No matter how well you can catch, you can’t play fullback if you are afraid to block.  If hands were valued over size and blocking, wide receivers would play tight end.

Nose Tackle
Front Runner: Ron Edwards
Next in Line: Shaun Smith
Long Shot: Allen Bailey

Breakdown:  It looks as if the incumbent Ron Edwards will once again be the starting nose tackle for the Chiefs.  The epitome of mediocre, Edwards has done just enough to keep his spot on the team while the Chiefs have looked for an upgrade at the position for years, obviously without success.  He will likely rotate with Shaun Smith at nose tackle, with the occasional glimpse of Allen “love me some raccoon” Bailey.  However, Bailey will likely spend most of his time at defensive end, spelling Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson in non-blitzing situations.

Right Outside Linebacker

Front Runner: Andy Studebaker
Next in Line: Demorrio Williams

Breakdown:  The Chiefs have been grooming Studebaker to take over for Mike Vrabel for two seasons, and now that Vrabel has retired, it is Studebaker’s job to lose.  He has played well when given an opportunity to play, giving us no reason to think he won’t be the starter in week one, but Demorrio Williams has forced himself into the picture.  After Derrick Johnson beat Williams out for the starting inside linebacker spot, he never looked back, leaving Williams somewhat lost in the mix.  Halfway through the season he was converted into a down pass rusher and excelled.  The Chiefs will definitely take a look at Williams at ROL, as he has always had fairly good coverage skills and speed, when you add that to his newly acquired pass rushing techniques he will give Studebaker a run for his money, if nothing else.