A Tale of Two LinesOctober 25th, 2009 by Lee Eldridge
During the ’90s under Marty Schottenheimer, the Chiefs had dominating offensive and defensive lines. So what happened? I think if we look back at these last ten years, we get a pretty darn good glimpse at how the Chiefs have fallen. And why they can’t seem to get back up.
Derrick Thomas. Neil Smith. Dan Saleuamua. Joe Phillips. As Kansas City fans we loved these guys. The Chiefs have repeatedly tried to replace them. Here are the players that the Chiefs have drafted in the money rounds (NFL draft rounds 1-3) since 2001 to play on the defensive line.
2001: Eric Downing (round 3)
2002: Ryan Sims (round 1), Eddie Freeman (round 2)
2004: Junior Siavii (round 2)
2006: Tamba Hali (round 1)
2007: Turk McBride (round 2), Tank Tyler (round 3)
2008: Glenn Dorsey (round 1)
2009: Tyson Jackson (round 1), Alex Magee (round 3)
That’s ten players selected in the early rounds to play defensive line during the last nine drafts. Several are out of football. And few have made significant contributions on the field in Kansas City or anywhere else for that matter. None were a greater bust than Ryan Sims, who the Chiefs traded up to grab.
Defensive linemen take several years to develop. It’s way too early to judge Dorsey, Jackson and Magee. Hali has been much better with the move to outside linebacker this year than I would have expected. And Dorsey may be starting to turn the corner. He has played well the last couple of weeks. There’s hope for a few of these guys.
As the Chiefs continued to miss on defensive lineman, it caused a ripple affect through subsequent drafts. With every miss, the Chiefs had to try again. Other positions suffered. And none were ignored as greatly as the offensive line.
During the Vermeil years, the Chiefs were able to build what may have been one of the finest offensive lines in NFL history, featuring veterans Willie Roaf, Will Shields and Brian Waters. But because their line was so good and so dependable, the team felt little urgency to draft and develop young offensive lineman. Here’s the list of offensive lineman taken in rounds 1-3 since 2001.
2008: Branden Albert (round 1)
That’s it. Matter of fact, you have to go back to 1999 when the Chiefs drafted John Tait to find the last offensive lineman chosen by the Chiefs in one of these early rounds. And the Chiefs allowed Tait to leave in free agency after the 2003 season.
Pioli and Haley have been criticized for not rebuilding the Chiefs offensive line this year. And it’s apparent that the offensive line is their greatest weakness. But it’s important to understand that the Chiefs weren’t just bad. They were really bad and really deficient of talent when Pioli got here. This is not a one year project. Defensive linemen take time to develop. And a good offensive lineman can contribute more quickly. They take less time to develop. I fully expect the Chiefs to address their offensive line problems in the next two drafts. And the hope would be that by 2011 the defensive linemen have developed, and we’ve hit on some good offensive linemen.
Tags: NFL Draft