The Kansas City Chiefs had to be feeling pretty good about themselves entering the NFL offseason knowing that they lost many of their top players to injury last season and still nearly came away with the AFC West crown.
The Chiefs may have even won the division if it wasn’t for their lack of depth at many key spots such as quarterback, running back, tight end and safety.
So Scott Pioli and Co. decided to make roster depth a priority early in free agency, acquiring solid players at running back and tight end in Peyton Hillis and Kevin Boss, and adding a less proven option at quarterback in Brady Quinn, but someone who should still prove to be light years ahead of Tyler Palko.
Hillis was signed to a one-year deal and he should be motivated to show that his 2010 season with the Browns was not a fluke, because if he doesn’t produce in Kansas City his NFL career could be over before it barely got started. If healthy and motivated to run hard, the 26-year-old should be the perfect compliment to Jamaal Charles who will hopefully return to full strength after suffering a knee injury in Week 2 last season. Hillis is a tough runner who can help Charles shoulder the load and the two have the chance to be the most formidable running tandem in the league in 2012.
Boss broke onto the scene for the Giants during the 2007 postseason where he proved to be a key target for quarterback Eli Manning, but he has never quite lived up to expectations in terms of production since then. The Oregon native has had a solid, yet unspectacular five-year NFL career thus far but you can’t blame him for his 2011 season since he was playing in the silver and black after all. Boss is known as an excellent blocker which should come in handy in two tight end sets where Tony Moeaki is used as a receiving threat and Boss stays in to help with protection or potentially goes on a route as well.
Boss isn’t the only excellent blocker the Chiefs have added this offseason however, Eric Winston is one of the best right tackles in the league and believe it or not, Kansas City did everything in their power to make him a Chief.
It worked. Eventually.
After multiple days of wooing and negotiations, the Chiefs finally got their man. And luckily for us all, that man was not Barry Richardson.
Winston gives the Chiefs two very good bookends on their offensive line with Branden Albert anchoring the left side of the line and at just 28, Winston appears to have some of his best football in front of him. Jamaal Charles was an absolute stud in 2010 and that was while running behind an offensive line that was average at best. This offensive line should be much improved from that group and Charles, as well as Peyton Hillis, should benefit greatly.
It might be easy to forget that Brady Quinn was a first-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2007 based on his career to date, but maybe Kansas City will be the right situation for the former Fighting Irish signal-caller. Former first-round selection (1st overall) Alex Smith appears to have turned his career around in San Francisco, so why can’t Quinn do the same in KC? Quinn hasn’t played with the greatest collection of offensive talent during his NFL career after stops in Cleveland and Denver (unless of course we are counting Tim Tebow), and the Chiefs offensive weapons are some of the league’s best so this could be Quinn’s last real shot to prove himself. The 27-year-old will begin the season sitting behind Chiefs starter Matt Cassel and will hopefully stay that way, but if he is thrust into the starting spot, he should prove to be more capable to run an NFL offense that Tyler Palko was last season.
The Chiefs have done a great job improving their offense to this point in the offseason but they still have a few more needs to address, most notably on defense where they need to find a starting nose tackle and more depth at the safety position. There are some solid veterans out there capable of filling these spots, but Kansas City may look to the draft to find their nose tackle of the present and hopefully future.
Maybe the best thing about the Chiefs offseason thus far is that they have given themselves the ability to be very flexible with their picks in the draft. The Chiefs had very few holes when it came to starting positions and they have addressed nearly all of them so now they can look to add the best possible players available with their picks and find some talented youngsters that can add depth to their roster for the future.
The Chiefs offseason hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been quite good and it should give Kansas City fans hope for a big 2012 season at Arrowhead.