Kansas City Chiefs Draft Review

by Tommy Lawlor – ScoutsNotebook.com

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

1 – S Eric Berry – Tennessee
2 – WR/RS Dexter McCluster – Ole Miss
2 – DB/RS Javier Arenas – Alabama
3 – OG Jon Asamoah – Illinois
3 – TE Tony Moeaki – Iowa
5 – FS Kendrick Lewis – Ole Miss
5 – LB Cameron Sheffield – Troy

My favorite player of the 2010 draft class was Eric Berry.  And it wasn’t even close.  I loved watching him play for the Vols.  There was a lot of discussion about whether GM Scott Pioli would spend a Top 10 pick on a FS.  The answer…yes.  You have to realize that Berry isn’t just any FS.  He’s a special player.

Most Safety prospects that go in the Top 10 have a great size/speed combo.  You see guys that are 6’1, 220 running a 4.38.  Berry isn’t a slouch in these areas.  He’s 6’0, 211 and ran in the 4.4 range.  He’s special because of what he does on the field.  Eric picked off 14 passes in his career at Tennessee.  That shows you he can be a playmaker.  He has good man cover skills as well.  Eric is a force against the run.  He can play as the 8th man in the box or stay off the ball and then fly up after the snap.  Berry is an outstanding hitter and tackler.  He also is instinctive.  It is rare that you can find a player who is athletic, productive, tough, skilled, smart, instinctive, a natural leader, and has good size.  Those kind of FS’s just don’t come around very often.  Pioli was smart to take Berry.  

Rodney Harrison showed Pioli just how much impact a good Safety can have in their time together with the Patriots.  Harrison was a terrific player and a big time leader for the defense.  Berry can be the same kind of a player for KC.  Berry also can be an instant impact player for the Chiefs.  That isn’t to say that he’ll be a star right away, but I expect Berry to start this year and make his share of plays.  I love the fact that Pioli chose Berry, even at #5.  The Chiefs haven’t finished in the Top 10 in points or yards allowed in more than a decade.  That defense needs difference makers, not just solid guys.  Berry is a rare commodity and I expect him to be a really good player for a long time.

KC had a pair of 2nd round picks.  At #36 they took Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss.  There were media reports that he could go in the mid-2nd round, but I didn’t see him going this early.  Dexter is a hell of a player.  He had a great Senior season and then looked really good at the Senior Bowl.  Still, he is 5’9, 172.  He is also a guy that split time at WR and RB.  I have to think that Pioli made this pick with Wes Welker on his mind.  Welker has been a tremendous player for the Pats since coming over from Miami.  He lacks ideal size, but is a perfect fit for what they wanted.  McCluster has a similar skill set, but actually a higher ceiling because he’s faster and more versatile.

The KC offense hasn’t finished better than 23rd in yards or points in the last 3 years.  The Chiefs need all the help they can get, specifically players who can make things happen.  Jamaal Charles has that potential at RB, but the team was lacking it in the receiving corps.  Dwayne Bowe is a good receiver, but isn’t a playmaker.  McCluster is the kind of player that can catch a short pass, make a defender miss, and then turn it into a 20+ yard gain.  He’s like a WR when he doesn’t have the ball, but like a RB when he does have the ball.  He’s not explosive, but is fast, elusive, and will surprise you with his toughness.  I thought he went a bit early, but McCluster is what KC needed.  Also, Todd Haley and Charlie Weis now have a player that creates matchup problems for the defense.  Anything the Chiefs can do to move the ball and come up with big plays will be a big help in their march to respectability.

The other 2nd round pick went for another SEC playmaker, Javier Arenas from Alabama.  He will begin as the #3 CB / slot guy.  That’s an important role these days.  The NFL is a passing league and more teams are using 3-WR sets.  You need a good slot corner to help control the middle of the field.  Arenas is a good cover guy, but also is dangerous as a blitzer.  He led the nation in TFLs by a DB with 12 (5 of them were sacks).  He picked off 5 passes so he can make plays in the passing game as well.  Arenas has added value because of his RS ability.  He was Top 10 in the nation in both punt and kickoff returns.  In his career he took 7 punts back for TDs.  That’s the kind of impact that the Chiefs could use on STs.  I was surprised to see Arenas taken in the 2nd round, but KC clearly felt that adding a playmaker on D and STs was worth that kind of value.

The Chiefs also had a pair of 3rd round picks.  They first took OG Jon Asamoah of Illinois.  He gives them a tough run blocker on the interior.  Asamoah isn’t flashy at all, but he’s got the kind of nasty streak and physical style of play you want in a G.  He works hard to stick with his blocks.  Jon isn’t the biggest guy at 6’4, 305, but Pioli generally hasn’t targeted massive linemen.  Asamoah was solid value.

The other 3rd rounder went for Iowa TE Tony Moeaki.  I like this pick a lot.  Tony had some durability issues at Iowa, but is really talented.  He is a terrific athlete.  Tony is one of the few TEs that can catch a short pass and turn it into a long gain.  He has excellent RAC ability.  He has okay size at 6’3, 245.  Tony isn’t a powerful blocker, but he is underrated in that area.  He played at Iowa where running the ball is the foundation of the offense.  You don’t play TE for them if you won’t at least give good effort as a blocker.  Tony is a solid effort guy.  He’ll stick with his guy as best he can.  His true value is in his ability as a receiver, but I think he can develop into an adequate run blocker in the NFL.  I won’t be surprised at all if he’s the starting TE this year.

The Chiefs finished up with a pair of 5th round picks.  They first went for another SEC player, S Kendrick Lewis from Ole Miss.  I wasn’t real high on Lewis.  He never really impressed me as a player.  He posted good numbers in 2009 (2 INTs, 57 solo tackles, 5 TFLs, 10 PBUs, 3 FFs, 2 blocked kicks), but didn’t consistently stand out on game tape when I watched him.  The KC secondary was porous last year so adding another DB was a wise move.  At the least, he has the potential to be a good STer.

The last pick was LB Cameron Sheffield.  He played DE for Troy, but definitely projects to LB in the NFL.   He is 6’2, 257.  Size aside, Sheffield reminded me of a LB at times when I watched him play.  I think he’ll handle the transition pretty well.  He was a good pass rusher at Troy (14.5 career sacks), but lacks the explosiveness to be a starting DE.  3-4 OLB is a better fit.  He was solid value in the 5th round.

You can question whether the Chiefs screwed up in not going after an OLB earlier.  They have Tamba Hali on one side.  The other LB spot is a battle between Mike Vrabel (aka The Ancient Mariner), Andy Studebaker (a project who may or may not pan out), and now Sheffield.  There are a couple of other guys on the roster, but no one that is a gifted rusher.  Back in my Steelers review I talked about the fact that they go after OLBs early and often.  They don’t ever feel you can have enough pass rushers.  KC passed on Jason Worilds and Jermaine Cunningham for Javier Arenas.  It will be interesting to see if that is a decision that they regret in a year or two.  Maybe Studebaker or Sheffield turns out to be a good player.  Maybe Arenas is great.  We’ll see.  Overall, I did like the Chiefs draft class.

Chiefs draft tracker at NFL.com

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