Until there is a new CBA, the only way for the Kansas City Chiefs to improve their roster will be through the draft. One position that will no doubt be addressed, no matter what happens with free agency, is offensive tackle. Did the 2010 starter at right tackle, Barry Richardson, play well enough to be in the mix in 2011? Josh Looney seems to think so.
Three years into his NFL career, Richardson finally saw regular playing time in 2010. In fact, Richardson was one of the best success stories on the team last season after starting all 16 games, plus a post-season game, at right tackle. He’s definitely come a long way since being cut following Todd Haley’s first training camp in 2009.
To say that Richardson’s 2010 season was “surprising” is probably a fair statement.
Sure, Richardson was far from flawless in his first year as a starter. He led the team in penalties (9), penalty yards (63) and gave up 5.0 sacks, but he also exceeded any and all preseason expectations.
Richardson played at a winning level last season, but was that level high enough for the Chiefs to push other positions of need into higher priority this off-season? The answer to that question should play out in front of us over the coming months.
There is no doubt Richardson was one of the biggest surprises, considering he was viewed as a fringe player going into training camp last year. The right tackle job was supposed to belong to Ryan O’Callaghan, a guy that Scott Pioli quickly scooped up from the New England Patriots the year before. But there was Richardson lining up with the first team in place of an injured O’Callaghan and then staying there even after that injury was healed.
However, surprising shouldn’t be taken as “winning”. If playing on a winning team means Richardson played at a winning level, then you should make that argument about every player on the roster. In this specific case, there was little about his performance on the field that should be considering at a “winning level”.
For an offensive line that owned the league’s best rushing attack, Richardson so often was the weakest link. If it’s moving Branden Albert to the right side — an idea I’ve never been a huge fan of — or drafting a tackle in the first round, the Kansas City Chiefs need to do everything they can to improve right offensive tackle.
Though it clearly didn’t alter Haley or Pioli’s feelings towards Richardson, don’t forget that he had an altercation with special teams coach Steve Hoffman during a game this past year. We all know getting the job done on the field — right or wrong — is the more important than a run-in with a coach, but that possibility of snapping also should be a part of the equation when weighing the options going into next season.