As has been the case the last few years, all early projections for the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round centered around the offensive line. That’s what happens when you employ the worst right tackle in the league. With his first mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper is singing a different tune, going with a defensive tackle at No. 11 for the Chiefs.
Devon Still, DT, Penn St.
Romeo Crennel could use a disruptive interior line presence in his system, and Still can be a penetrator in the 3-4, capable of occupying blockers and making plays in against the run while also splitting gaps against the pass. He came on in 2011 at Penn State and should help this defense up front, as the Chiefs also get Eric Berry back in the secondary in 2012. With this kind of reinforcement, the Chiefs have a chance to become an upper-echelon defense going forward, something they showed glimpses of this past season.
There’s no doubt the Chiefs defense needs to beef up in the middle and Still is an intriguing name. Veteran Kelly Gregg was a nice addition last year, but signed just a one-year deal and may not return even if he plays another season. Sixth-round pick Jerrell Powe dressed for just one game last year and showed no indication he will be able to contribute going forward.
The issue with taking Still or any defensive tackle this early is waiting for them to develop. I know Still would come along quicker than Powe, but lineman in general have a much more severe learning curve. Can the Kansas City defense survive without getting much out of their first round pick for the second season in a row?
Kansas City GM Scott Pioli has yet to draft a true tackle since taking over three years ago, but hopefully that’s about to change. It’s hard to see a scenario in which Matt Cassel isn’t starting for the Chiefs on opening day and if he is going to be successful he will need more than just the return of Jamaal Charles. He needs some form of NFL-caliber player lining up in front of him at right tackle.