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2013 Team Report: Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterbacks

Starter: Alex Smith
Backup(s): Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray (R)

Starting QB: After years of floundering in San Francisco Alex Smith seems to have found the perfect place and system for his talents. Andy Reid doesn't ask the 30 year-old quarterback to do too much and Smith excels as the game manager that Reid desires. Over the past two seasons Smith has now thrown 36 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. In 2013 he set career highs in touchdowns (23), passing yards (3313), and rushing yards (431). While Smith has always been viewed as an athletic quarterback, his athleticism really shined with the Chiefs. The team designed run plays for him and Smith turned plenty of broken pass plays into positive rushing plays. There are a lot of questions about Smith's weapons in Kansas City, but he'll largely have the same group back he did in 2013 (sans Dexter McCluster). Much like Reid's system doesn't demand a big arm at quarterback, it can also make due without superstar receivers.

Backup QB: Chase Daniel is a 6 foot 218 pound career backup out of the University of Missouri. He lacks arm strength but has the intelligence to make a decent stopgap as well as a good mentor for younger quarterbacks. Tyler Bray was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and beat out Ricky Stanzi as the QB3. Bray has the body at 6'6 and 230 pounds and quite possibly the biggest arm on the roster but questions about his maturity and leadership skills caused him to go undrafted. Bray's future may be a bit uncertain with the team's 5th round acquisition of Aaron Murray in this year's draft. Murray's ceiling is probably a less athletic Smith, but he seems to fit Reid's style better than Bray. Murray is rehabbing a torn ACL and could start the year on the IR.

Running Backs

Starter: Jamaal Charles
Backup(s): Knile Davis (R), De'Anthony Thomas, Cyrus Gray, Joe McKnight
Fullback(s): Anthony Sherman

Starting RB: Charles has been a RB1 for 4 of the last seasons, but he's never been as good as he was in 2013. Charles set career highs in touchdowns (19), receptions (70) and receiving yards (693) on his way to being the most productive running back in fantasy football. Charles had never been considered much of a red zone back until last year, but he proved that opportunity was all he needed. He scored 9 of his 12 rushing touchdowns from inside the 5 last year. Charles also saw a huge increase in his usage in the passing game under Reid. He is the main (only?) offensive weapon on this team and he sees a huge percentage of his team's rushes, receptions and touchdowns.

Backup RBs: Knile Davis finished the season much stronger than he started it, with productive performances in week 17 and the wild card round. The Chiefs really didn't spell Charles much in the year, which greatly limited Davis' usage. What also limited it was Davis' propensity to fumble, which carried over from college. Davis will be recovering from a leg injury heading into 2014, adding another ding onto his often injured body. Davis has elite speed and can be a productive back if the team loses Charles for an extended time. De'Anthony Thomas is currently listed as a running back but it's likely that the team sees him as a replacement for Dexter McCluster. at 5'9" 174 lbs, the 4th round pick certainly looks the part. Cyrus Gray may well have lost his role on the team with the acquisition of Thomas. Gray was the closest thing the team had to a third down back, but he'll now be fighting for a roster spot with Joe McKnight. Both backs have special teams value.

Fullback: Sherman is used sparingly in the pass game and even less in the running game. He is a blocker first and second and shows little elusiveness when he catches the ball in the open field. Reid's offense focuses on matchups so there are occasions when Sherman is used more often than usual, but those are few and far between. The fourth year back scored his first career touchdown in 2013.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery
Backups: Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins, Kyle Williams, Weston Dressler

Starting WRs: The starting wide receivers were a major disappointment statistically in 2013. Dwayne Bowe specifically had a tragically slow start to the season, catching more than 4 passes only once in the team's first 8 games. Bowe has 3 1000 yard seasons to his name including a monster 2010 campaign when he caught 15 touchdown passes. It was a major adjustment for him going from Matt Cassel (who would force the ball to Bowe in any circumstance) to Smith who is far more cautious with the ball. Bowe showed signs of acclimating in the second half and posted an 8-150-1 in the Chiefs playoff loss. Avery was a 2013 pickup from Indianapolis that failed to match his 2012 production. Avery was most successful on routes underneath the defense, but once teams took that away he was largely useless. He got behind the defense several times but dropped more deep passes than he caught. The 30 year receiver showed promise with 781 receiving yards in 2012 but last year only had one game with more than 4 grabs.

Backup WRs: The battle for the Chiefs third receiver job will be filled with inexperience and intrigue. Junior Hemingway made small strides in his second season, most notably in his route running. Hemingway often plays smaller than his size and doesn't have elite speed. The team is said to be very excited about A.J. Jenkins, another receiver entering his third year. The former first round pick was acquired from San Francisco in 2013 and is trying to fight off the bust label he's so rightly earned. Jenkins struggled to see the field in 2013 outside of a week 17 game in which the team rested their starters. Kyle Williams is yet another former 49er that has battled ACL injuries for a majority of his career. He'll likely have to make an impact on special teams to make the club. Dressler is a 29 year old veteran of the CFL. AT 5'8" and 179 lbs he profiles as a slot receiver at best. Dressler has been a star in the CFL, winning the Rookie of the Year in 2008 and accumulating 4 straight 1000 yard seasons.

Tight Ends

Starters: Anthony Fasano
Backups: Sean McGrath, Travis Kelce (R)

Fasano was the Chiefs' starting tight end in 2013 when he could stay healthy. After missing only 4 games in his first 7 NFL seasons, Fasano struggled with a variety of ailments and only played 9 games. He continued to be a force in the red zone and has now scored 13 touchdowns in his last 40 games. Fasano is an excellent blocker, and that is his main purpose. Even if Travis Kelce emerges healthy this fall, Fasano will still see plenty of snaps because of his blocking. Kelce missed his entire rookie campaign due to a microfracture. He was a 3rd round pick in 2013 and if he can get healthy his 6'5" frame figures to play well in the red zone. As a rooki, Sean McGrath filled in admirably for Fasano during his absence in '13 but his impact will likely be dictated by the health of the other two tight ends.

Place Kicker

Ryan Succop: Once again, the Chiefs do not have any competition at the specialist spots. Long snapper Thomas Gafford was re-signed for his sixth year. The veteran of the trio, punter and holder Dustin Colquitt is entering his ninth year after signing a lucrative new deal. Kicker Ryan Succop enters his fifth year. In 2012 he made 28 of 34 (82.4%) field goals. The Chiefs have spent the past three years ranked towards the lower end in attempted kicking points, at 24th, 25th, & 22nd.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: De'Anthony Thomas [R], Knile Davis, Kyle Williams

Both of the Chiefs primary returners, Quintin Demps and Dexter McCluster, will be playing with new teams in 2014. Running back Knile Davis was third on the depth chart but should face stiff competition for the return job from rookie De'Anthony Thomas whom the team sought out in the draft as a returner. The 73 kick returns that Thomas had in three years in college included 4 trips to the end zone.

Punt Returners: De'Anthony Thomas [R], Knile Davis, Kyle Williams

While rookie De'Anthony Thomas is more experienced as a kick returner, he also owns a career 17.1 yard average on 16 punt returns. Despite the impressive statistics, Thomas may need more work in reliability and decision making when it comes to handling punt returns. The team has few other experienced options for punts. Receiver Kyle Williams may end up being an option, though Williams is more experienced with kick returns, at which he had a poor 2013 season in San Francisco.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Branden Albert, LG Jeff Allen, C Rodney Hudson, RG Jon Asamoah, RT Eric Fisher
Key Backups: T Donald Stephenson, T Dustin Waldron, G Geoff Schwartz, G Bryan Mattison, C Eric Kush

The Kansas City Chiefs improved their offensive line by selecting Eric Fisher number one in the draft. They have a franchise tag on their left tackle Brandon Albert. So why aren't they ranked higher? Part of the answer is that rookies don't get graded in these rankings like Pro Bowlers in their first year, even top picks. Fisher should be an excellent player down the line but almost all rookies have struggles on the offensive line at first. Another part of the answer is that the Chiefs talent is relatively young across the board and has not reached full potential. Former Vikings left guard Geoff Schwartz is a serviceable player with size but he is vulnerable in pass protection. Schwartz is only on a one-year deal and could be upgraded upon if second year man Jeff Allen can win the job in the spring. Rodney Hudson out of Florida State is a solid starter at center; the line really missed him after he was injured last season. Jon Asamoah has been a good starter but also has to develop further to be considered elite. It will be interesting to see if the team signs Branden Albert long term, as they might have a better left tackle already on the roster in Fisher. Albert has little interest in playing right tackle (or guard), where some scouts say he could be more effective. In a year, swing tackle Donald Stephenson might be ready to graduate from swing tackle to starter and the team could move on from Albert's steep money demands. The Chiefs are a team to watch; they could be ranked much more highly as the season progresses. In a few years, after their players have a chance to mature, this line could be elite.

Team Defense

The Chiefs made a concerted effort to improve their defense heading into 2013 and for the first 9 games it looked like they'd done just that. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston wreaked havoc on the outside while Dontari Poe grew into somewhat of a beast on the inside. Derrick Johnson was his reliable self at middle linebacker and the secondary was buoyed by the surprisingly good play of rook Marcus Cooper. In the second half of the season the Chiefs saw a much more difficult slate of offenses and largely fell apart. Hali and Houston struggled with injuries and it looked like Poe wore down due to overuse. The secondary was exposed, specifically at safety. The team added another pass rusher in Dee Ford and another corner in Phillip Gaines in the draft. There is hope that Husain Abdullah or second year DB Sanders Commings can step up in the defensive backfield to provide help for Pro Bowler Brandon Flowers. The other safety, Eric Berry, is a great athlete but he provides much more help against the run than he does over the top against the pass. The pass rush should be outstanding with Hali and Houston healthy but they'll rely on their secondary to cover long enough for them to get to the quarterback.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Mike Devito, DE Vance Walker, NT Dontari Poe
Backups: DE Allen Bailey, DE Mike Catapano

Starting DL: Dontari Poe took a leap forward in 2013 and became a force that other teams have to account for. His penetration skills are unusual for a man his size and his energy level is off the charts. Poe struggled down the stretch because the Chiefs didn't have enough help to get him off the field during games and he seemed to wear down. To address that the team added Vance Walker, who can play both inside and out. Walker's spent the last four years as a reserve in Atlanta, and had his best season with 29 tackles and 3 sacks in 2013. Veteran Mike DeVito was serviceable in his first year with the Chiefs, but his contributions don't often show up on the stat sheet. DeVito has said this offseason that he'll be working on more penetration in 2014, which would be a change from his role last year.

Backup DL: Allen Bailey is a physical freak that's never quite seen his measurables translate to success on the defensive line. His role on passing downs could be impacted by the addition of first round pick Dee Ford, which would call into question what role he has on the team. Mike Catapano is a second year player out of Princeton that didn't see the field until week 15 last year.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Derrick Johnson, ILB Joe Mays, OLB Tamba Hali, OLB Justin Houston
Backups: ILB Nico Johnson, OLB Dee Ford

Starting LBs: The starting linebackers are the strength of the Chiefs' defense. Derrick Johnson is a ball hawk that benefits greatly from the attention given to Hali, Houston, and Poe. Johnson consistently posts high tackle totals with the occasional big play thrown in. There may be a passing of the torch on the outside as Tamba Hali enters his ninth season. Hali has racked up 46.5 sacks in the last 4 years but doesn't have the same motor that he once did. The top threat in the pass rush is now Justin Houston. Houston racked up 11 sacks in his first 8 games last year and looked almost unblockable at times. With Hali on the other side it's difficult to double team Houston and even harder to stop him with one man. Veteran Joe Mays was brought in to battle Nico Johnson for the inside linebacker job next to Johnson. Mays started 13 games with Houston in 2013 and spent the first two years of his career with Andy Reid.

Backup LBs: Nico Johnson should have an opportunity to win a starting spot next to Johnson, but he'll have to earn it. Johnson looked lost at times as a rookie and was badly outplayed by Akeem Jordan. Rookie Dee Ford will spell Houston and Hali on the outside and could possibly see some time on the defensive line as well. Ford is first and foremost a pass rusher that will need to work on his run support. The 23rd overall pick had 10.5 sacks in 2013 at Auburn.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Brandon Flowers, CB Sean Smith, SS Eric Berry, FS Husain Abdullah
Backups: CB

Starting DBs: After the failed experiment with Stanford Routt last season the Chiefs knew they needed to improve in the secondary and they made most of their improvements through free agency. Sean Smith is exactly the type of big pressing corner that new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton needs to run his scheme that will include a lot of press man coverage. Smith spent the past four seasons with Miami and at 6'3" and 218 pounds, he's looking forward to getting in receivers faces at the line of scrimmage. On the other side will be Brandon Flowers, who's reputation has hurt his production recently. As teams picked on the revolving door on the other side of the field in 2012 Flowers fell to career lows in tackles (48) and passes defensed (13). He also managed just three interceptions. It will be a little harder to avoid his side of the field in 2013 with the improvements made in the secondary. The Chiefs safeties both return in 2013 in Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis. Berry has big play potential and has been really good in run support but he's struggled mightily when he's been assigned to cover tight ends. Lewis is a fourth year free safety out of Mississippi that missed seven games due to injury in 2012. In 2011, the only season he's started all 16 games, he totaled 60 tackles and 3 interceptions.

Backup DBs: Depth at cornerback had been improved greatly from last season, before rookie Sanders Commings suffered a broken collarbone. Dunta Robinson should be one of the better nickel backs in the league, but after him the team gets very thin at corner.

Last modified: 2014-05-15 22:52:59