Chiefs opt to not add to LB corps

Eli Kaberon
April 29, 2012
Chiefs opt to not add to LB corps

A lot can be taken from the Chiefs' draft class, mainly that the team wants to get younger and stronger up front on both sides of the ball. By taking a nose tackle in the first round and offensive linemen in the second and third — the three picks weigh more than 950 pounds combined — GM Scott Pioli bulked up in the trenches for many years to come. The team also wanted depth in the receiving corps, secondary and at running back, all of which were accomplished within the team’s eight selections.

The draft class also says a lot about veterans on the roster. By not drafting a quarterback, Pioli gave a vote of confidence to starter Matt Cassel, whose success and future are directly tied to the general manager’s. The same could be said for DEs Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, who gained help along the defensive line but no direct challengers for their jobs.

However, the strongest feedback to be taken from the Chiefs' draft might be the faith the front office and coaching staff has in the current crop of linebackers. After not addressing the position in free agency, many believed that Pioli and Co. would add to the unit through the draft, presenting challengers to current starters ILB Jovan Belcher and LOLB Justin Houston. That didn’t happen, with the team opting to keep the status quo at those spots.

Pioli said following the draft the team’s strategy was to fill specific needs with each pick, but that the team doesn’t have a checklist of all the positions they need to fill. We hear linebacker is a spot they would have liked to address, but the opportunity to do so never presented itself given the talent available when the team had to make a pick.

“I don’t see that as we were just sitting there checking the box in terms of needs or near needs,” Pioli said. “We probably most did that in the first pick knowing the nose position has been something that has been unsettled for a number of years. When you talk about needs and the best player available, that was probably a heavier-weighted need.”

By not adding to the linebacking corps, the team showed great confidence that Belcher, a solid but far from spectacular veteran, and Houston, a second-year player who came on strong at the end of ’11, can play well for a defense that is expected to take a major step forward this fall.

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