There are four positions that the Kansas City Chiefs need to look at in the draft and free agency to bolster their roster for a possible Super Bowl run.
The Chiefs are a flawed team, so were the New England Patriots when they made their run to Super Bowl 51 victory. No team is perfect but the Chiefs are just flawed enough to face another high seed meltdown in the playoffs if these four positions aren’t upgraded for 2017. Some of these may not include the starters but depth at their respective positions.
One omission from this list that will be very obvious to readers is Alex Smith. We’ve been a little over saturated with the argument so I leave his omission up to the reader. You may take it as a given that he needs to be replaced, or that the Chiefs can win with him. Either way the Chiefs can be more than their quarterback and here is what they need.
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The emergence of Terrance Mitchell this season as he faced some of the better passing offenses makes the need for a starting corner minute. It is the depth that the Chiefs will need to focus on here. The Chiefs struggled when Phillip Gaines was tested deep by both slot and outside receivers. The reason is that Gaines kept his eyes in the backfield so often that he lost opportunity to run with receivers. This aided him in stopping short routes but double moves were his worst nightmare.
Corner is the position where no matter what the third or fourth guy is getting in the game. The draft is deep at this position. It won’t be necessary to spend a first round pick on a guy that will sit behind Marcus Peters and Mitchell. The draft can and should provide a solid replacement for Gaines to be a steady sub for starters.
Aug 13, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher (72) at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium. Seattle won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
There are several difficult decisions to be made by John Dorsey and his scouting team this offseason. Do you keep an offensive line together in the name of cohesiveness or do you look at each individual player? Individually the Chiefs have two above average players on the offensive line. Mitch Morse and Mitchell Schwartz are easily the top players on the line but rookie Parker Ehinger could make some significant strides this offseason.
That leaves Zach Fulton and Eric Fisher as potential starters that might need replacing. With the contract of Eric Fisher as it currently stands that isn’t an option. Guard is a position that will not only aid the running game but protect whomever the Chiefs put under center. While it does not look good in the draft, guard can be updated through some free agency finds.
Derrick Johnson has stated several times that he wants to play this next season. The problem is that even with Johnson in the lineup, the Chiefs cannot stop the run. Johnson is an excellent cover linebacker that has an uncanny ability to submarine the offensive line and get guys down in the backfield. Sometimes though Johnson picks the wrong gap to submarine and leaves a wider hole. It also doesn’t help that his speed has been limited as he has aged.
The Chiefs could stick with Josh Mauga who should be available off of injury in 2017. However the draft has some linebackers that could suit the Chiefs’ needs. Even if the tandem of Johnson and Mauga remains in the starting lineup, the Chiefs need to prepare for Johnson’s inevitable retirement.
It was pointed out recently by @ryantracyNFL that Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill are not enough to pose a credible threat to opposing defenses. The Chiefs need more from their wide receivers. We could keep waiting on Albert Wilson to grow some hands or for Chris Conley to be a better vertical threat. The options are there but the Chiefs need some better players at wide receiver.
Just about anyone around the league would tell you that Wilson could easily be upgraded. Conley could slide to a third wide receiver and still get some good looks from the offense. The real issue lies at the number two wide receiver. Hill is built for for the slot and has his best opportunities when he gets the ball in space. A compliment to Maclin would take pressure off and allow the offense to spread the field.