The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs roster consisted of eight Pro Bowl participants and four All Pro selections. It certainly has a great deal of strengths.
But that doesn’t mean there are not areas that need improvement for next season. In today’s edition of Top 5, we will list the five greatest positions of need in Kansas City.
1. Wide Receiver
Outside of Dwaye Bowe, who had a lackluster season himself, no other Chiefs wideout went over 600 yards or caught more than two touchdowns. This group lacked a playmaker who could create consistent separation, particularly in man coverage. Their hands were not reliable, as they combined for 19 drops this season. While Bowe will still certainly be in uniform next season (5 year, $56 million contract), Dexter McCluster will become a free agent. While he’s proved versatile, he hasn’t really lived up to his explosive potential. Donnie Avery provided occasional big plays, but was much too streaky. This isn’t a position the Chiefs should have to go spend money on, as the upcoming draft looks to be loaded with receiving talent.
According to Pro Football Focus, the highest graded Chiefs cornerback who was on the field for at least 25% of snaps this season was Sean Smith with a +0.9 grade. That’s good for 50th in the NFL among corners on the field that much. This group was helped tremendously in the first half of the season by a ferocious pass rush, led by studs in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. But once that rush faded away in the second half of the season, quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck picked apart this secondary. Their pass defense, overall, was the seventh worst in the league. As our columnist Anthony Malandra noted in his piece today, too many top receivers (like T.Y. Hilton), were getting too much space to make plays downfield. The Chiefs allowed the third most 40+ yard completions in the league with 16. There will be some good corner talent available in free agency, such as Alterraun Verner, Brent Grimes, and Walter Thurmond III. But the Chiefs will certainly have to pay up for corners of that caliber.
This excludes strong safety Eric Berry, who was named a first team All Pro and finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ third highest graded safety with Cleveland’s T.J. Ward. But many Chiefs fans were not happy with the play of free safety Kendrick Lewis. He finished with a -2.8 grade on PFF, and allowed three touchdowns over the last two games. For the season, quarterbacks had a rating of 122.0 when throwing his way. The big play statistics I mentioned earlier can be applied to this group as well, as there were simply too many receivers getting behind them. There are some free agent safeties who would be attractive like Jairus Byrd, but again, a guy like him won’t come cheap.
4. Offensive Line
This will be much worse if the Chiefs lose left tackle Branden Albert. If he is back, then this group certainly gets a boost. It also needs first overall pick Eric Fisher to take a step in his progression next season. But this group really seemed to struggle down the stretch, particularly against the Colts last Saturday. The one player who did not play very well all season was left guard Jeff Allen. He graded out at -12.0 on PFF, which was good for 20th worst in the league. This is another area where the upcoming draft seems to be well stocked, so Kansas City could look here for some added depth and perhaps a new left guard.
5. Tight End
If you look around at the NFL’s best offenses nowadays, you’re likely to find a very productive tight end. Having a physically imposing, athletic tight end does wonders for a team’s red zone trips as well as on third down. The Chiefs don’t really have a guy like this. I think Anthony Fasano is a pretty decent player, but he’s not much of a huge threat in this passing game. If Kansas City can find another one in the draft to help Alex Smith downfield and on third down, I think you’ll see the offense take a step forward.
What other changes should we expect in Kansas City? Find out here.