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Brian Billick's thoughts for March 8
Billick examines the Kansas City Chiefs' draft needs and lineback prospects.
Chiefs needs draft help on offense and defense
Kansas City returned to relevancy in 2010 with the leagues best rushing attack, improved play at the quarterback and wide receiver positions, and the second fewest give-always in the league.
Few teams got more productivity out of the 2010 draft than did Kansas City. Safety Eric Berry went to the Pro Bowl after being the fifth pick of the draft and Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas and Jon Asamoah all either started or added solid depth. Tight end Tony Moeaki may have been the best value of this class. As the 93rd player selected, he was second on the team in receptions behind Pro Bowl selection Dwayne Bowe.
Kansas City has the 21st overall pick and should be looking for value along both sides of the line of scrimmage. Depth along the offensive line might be a high priority and even more so should they suffer some loses to free agency. The Chiefs could also be aided by picks along the defensive line or a solid pass rushing outside linebacker to bookend defensive end Tamba Hali.
They will need further production from them and more this season given their out-of-division opponents coming from the NFC North and AFC East along with games versus Pittsburgh and at Indy.
Top inside linebacker doesn't disappoint
Martez Wilson entered the NFL Scouting Combine as the top rated middle linebacker prospect, and he backed up the hype with his workout.
Checking in at 6-foot-3 3/4, 250 pounds, he ran an eye popping 4.49 40-yard dash. That time was best among all linebackers, both inside and out. That speed is also on display when you watch Wilson’s tape — he easily runs with tight ends and receivers up the seam and plays well in man-to-man pass coverage.
He closes in quickly on the ball carrier and gets from sideline to sideline to make plays all over the field. Wilson uses his length to his advantage and often gets his long arms on ballcarriers even when engaged by a blocker in the hole. With that said, his read-and-react skills will need improvement to take his game to the next level. He often got drawn in on play action and was easily fooled on misdirection plays.
In college, he made up for those false steps with his speed and quickness, but that will be magnified and exposed in the NFL.
Martez Wilson has all the physical attributes to be an impact player in the NFL, and he will continue to improve with better coaching and increased film study. I look for him to be the first inside linebacker selected in the draft, but probably not until the middle of the second round.
McCarthy a good prospect from the 'U'
Colin McCarthy is another in a long line of NFL prospects coming out of the "U". He played most of his career at Miami as an outside linebacker, but his skill set will translate better in the NFL on the inside.
I had the opportunity to watch him perform at the Senior Bowl and he was surprisingly agile and quick making plays on the defensive side of the ball as well as special teams. During the Senior Bowl, Colin showed great instincts and an aggressive yet under control style of play. He attacks strongly and brings his hips well when making tackles.
He can improve on his backpedal and man technique in pass coverage, but he looks extremely comfortable in zone coverage and always has his head on a swivel. Going into the Combine, it was important for McCarthy to run a good 40-yard dash time and show explosion in the vertical jump. He didn’t disappoint with a 4.65 dash and a 36.5-inch vertical leap.
I believe Colin McCarthy can be an excellent special teams contributor from Day 1, and he will provide solid depth at the linebacker position. He will challenge Quan Sturdivant (North Carolina) to be the second middle linebacker to be selected in the draft — late second-round to third-round prospect.
Best wishes to Steve Sabol
I was saddened to hear Steve Sabol of NFL Films had been hospitalized over the weekend.
Sabol was in Kansas City attending the 101 Awards, where he was to accept the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football on behalf of NFL Films, when he became ill.
Steve Sabol has been with NFL Films since 1964, when he began working for his father as a cinematographer. In that time, he has received 27 Emmy Awards for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing. His father, Ed, was recently named to the 2011 Class for the Hall of Fame. An honor well deserved.
The Sabol’s are the “keeper of the flame.” The popularity and excitement that has become the NFL is in no small part due to the vision of both Ed and Steve in presenting our game in the most dramatic and artistic way possible.
The wiring of players and coaches that help give fans a closer look at the game, in no small part, are due to the trust the teams, coaches and players have in NFL Films and the Sabol’s. I would not have agreed to have my team do the first ever “Hard Knocks” that have become so popular, if it were done by anyone else besides Steve.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Steve in hopes of a quick recovery.