Heading into last season it looked like the AFC West would be one of the weaker divisions in the NFL, but once the league got going that was far from the case. The Kansas City Chiefs were one of the biggest surprises and they never really looked back after jumping out of the gate to a 3-0 start.
They won the division with a 10-6 record and made the playoffs with the NFL’s best rushing offense. The young defense wasn’t bad either and the Chiefs will probably be favored to win the division next season. However, they made an early exit in the playoffs after being humbled 30-7 by Baltimore in the wild card round.
The Chiefs have some fine players in Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster, Derrick Johnson, Javier Arenas, and Tamba Hali, but need a push from their draft picks to get over the hump and go further into the playoffs next season.
The club’s 2011 picks could be the answer they’re looking for as they landed a good mix of players with character, production and an up-side to them.
Round one (26)-Jonathan Baldwin-WR-Pitt
Baldwin comes with natural athletic talent, but could be considered pretty raw at running routes. He’s made it this far with his natural ability and now needs to learn to play the position if he’s going to thrive at the pro level.
Round two (55)-Rodney Hudson- C/G- Florida St.
Hudson had an exceptional college career. He was a three-time All-ACC player and a four-year starter at school. He’s a great student of the game, hard working, and quite athletic. However, he’s not the biggest guy around, especially from the waist down. He weighed 285 lbs. at college and has bulked up to 299 lbs. He might have a hard time dealing with some of the league’s 350-plus lbs. players though.
Round 3 (70) -Justin Houston – OLB-Georgia
This guy could have the most upside out of all the Chiefs’ picks. He might have gone in the first round if he didn’t test at the combine for marijuana. He’s obviously got a bit of a problem and was suspended for a couple of games back in 2009. He’s a good player though and had 10 sacks during his first year as an outside linebacker and is good at rushing off of both sides. If he can stay on the straight and narrow he might complement Tamba Hali perfectly.
Round 3 (86)-Allen Bailey-DE-Miami
Bailey’s in great playing condition at about 290 lbs. with a low percentage of body fat. However, he was a little inconsistent at Miami and often looked disinterested. He’s actually pretty slow at getting off the ball during the snap. He’s got a lot of raw talent and it’ll be up to the coaches to refine it.
Round 4 (118)-Jalil Brown-CB – Colorado
Brown’s got decent size and doesn’t mind tackling. He’s capable of nailing somebody when the opportunity presents itself. He’s got the talent to challenge for a spot right away and will give Brandon Carr some stiff competition.
Round 5 (135) – Ricky Stanzi -QB -Iowa
Stanzi has good size at 6-foot-four and 225 lbs. He seemed to struggle in fourth quarters of games last year, especially when his team was behind. His QB rating was 66.8 when behind in the fourth quarter and that fell to 44.2 when the Indiana game is taken out of the equation. He had no fourth-quarter touchdowns, was sacked six times and threw for an interception. But just a year earlier he had a 127.4 QB rating with two touchdowns and no sacks and interceptions. If he gets back on track he could be a good fifth-round pick.
Round 5 (140)- Gabe Miller – OLB – Oregon St
Miller has been plagued by the injury bug so far. He played tight-end for the first two years at Oregon, where he was a team captain, and then switched to outside linebacker just ahead of the 2009 season. He was an excellent student and is pretty quick in the first 10 yards and could make a good special teams player.
Round 6 (199) -Jerrell Powe- NT- Ole Miss
Powe’s got good size at 6-foot-1 and 335 lbs., but he might not have the stamina at the moment. If he works on his fitness he could make the team, especially if they can’t resign their veterans. Powe could rotate in the middle of defensive line. He was an All-SEC player in his last two years at school.
Round 7 (223)-Shane Bannon- FB- Yale
Bannon’s big enough to handle the position in the league. However, he only caught a dozen passes for just 116 yards and one touchdown last season. He was a fine student, but might only make it as far as the practice squad.