NSLU*: An Approach to Resolving Exposure and Weaknesses of the Chiefs – Part III

 

 

 

 

NSLU*: An Approach to Resolving

Exposure and Weaknesses of the

Chiefs – Part III

Adding Missing Pieces via the Draft  – A Mock Draft [02/05/18]

Read Part I here

Read Part II here

 

 

My conclusions to this 3-Part monstrosity is now provided. It uses an example mock draft (in which I did not trade back) and did reject one player who absolutely will not be a round 2 selection. This draft? I covered as many exposures as possible. This is a dream draft of course, but we are early in the process. While I didn’t trade back, I did my best to be mindful to the offensive side of the ball, which was accomplished with the addition of TE Hayden Hurst. Here’s the mock:

 

  • Round 2 Pick 22: Josey Jewell** – ILB, Iowa(A) – NT Vita Vea of Washington was available but unrealistic
  • Round 3 Pick 14: Justin Reid** – FS, Stanford (A+)
  • Round 3 Pick 22: Hayden Hurst – TE, South Carolina (A)
  • Round 4 Pick 22: J.C. Jackson** – CB, Maryland (A+) – My Ace Pick #2
  • Round 6 Pick 22: B.J. Hill, DT – North Carolina State (A+)

 

 

 

 

** = David’s Ace Picks

 

I think three picks here are instant contributors: Jewell, Reid and Jackson. Possibly B.J. Hill as well. Hurst could be worked in for the emerging #2 TE, so a pretty effective draft. An alternative instead of Hurst might be an OLB at Pick 22, Round 3. A further breakdown of this mock is as follows:

 

 

 

  1. Filled, my target ILB (yeah, I was a LB and yeah, I rate this need among the top needs)
  2. Obtained a solid FS to add to the back end of the defense – a starter immediately type pick
  3. Toss in a quality TE to be the #2 TE behind Kelce, the type guy that might be a starter elsewhere
  4. Fallen angel CB, a solid 1 or certainly 2nd round pick prior to legal troubles — requires due diligence but word out of MD, player is no trouble. Acquitted of criminal charges back home and that is the top reason for his fall from grace – probably association stupidity as well, need to address thinking and coach to a new lifestyle. This type of problem is something the Chiefs are very good at managing. The criminal charges were dropped and have no applicabity and affect.  Jackson did leave VCU for MD due to what happened and the staff at MD has been supportive of Jackson and state publicly that he has not been a problem. The pick requires due diligence but the opportunity to get a round one type player would be a true gem in the making. I would even move this pick up to either round 3 selection to get him.
  5. Here BJ Hill dropped in the draft and is top pick this late in the draft. I doubt that happens but see the Vita Veigh substitution I made with Josey Jewell who was available in round 3 – so I substituted.

 

 

What I missed: OLB, Depth Secondary, RB, OL, QB (#2), WR

 

Next: Other Possible Moves

 

 

 

  1. Trade for Davis Webb and/or
  2. Sign a top FA QB and pay him, much the same as having Daniels or Foles. This is in case of Mahomes getting subtracted from the starting lineup due to injury, or, heaven forbid, inability to perform the role of starting QB.
  3. Find a RB who runs with power from the set back position, out of the shotgun or when QB is over center, a power-style running back differing from Hunt and Ware.
  4. Is there a top quality 3-4 DE out there who doesn’t cost Logan or Bailey money? Or Trade for one. Or?
  5. See if we can find an interior lineman who is a quality level starting player in Free Agency.
  6. Sign JK Scott to try out to see if we can replace Dustin Colquitt (presuming Scott is not drafted)
  7. Scratch my head and decide what to do about OLB#2.
  8. Check in with Fearless Leaders, Ladner Morse and Ransom Hawthorne, to see if I covered their offense concerns with some efficiency (Note: I don’t believe WR to be a problem at this time) AND see if someone else wants to kick my props out from under me.

 

 

Evaluation: How Does This Fit?

Importantly, the acquisition of Jewell is a determining factor – I think he is justly a top quality ILB with leadership qualities.

 

Obtaining CB Kendall Fuller solves a major problem for the secondary. He excelled though on the Inside. If Brett Veach has the problems of filling the holes in the starting lineup, he starts with what he accomplished thus far, has a plan for using Fuller Inside and finding the outside solution…. enter in this draft, J.C. Jackson an example of that solution. True, he is inexperienced but he is the type of player who can start and be effective in the here and now.

 

[Note: The following plan was provided prior to the announcement that Darrelle Revis has been released saving the team $4.5M against teh cap. However, Revis could possibly be re-signed at a later date for a lesser amount]

Should the plan by Veach include retaining Darrelle Revis, then the whole secondary would fall into place with a developing talent in Jackson, Solid Pro at RCB in the person of Revis, Marcus Peters at LCB and Fuller manning the inside CB defense. Behind this would be Eric Berry at SS and Ron Parker at FS. Steven Nelson could then spot inside and work the nickel when used and the development of Jackson would not need to be rushed. This solidifies the depth of the secondary, provides youth for the future. Daniel Sorensen would add the “multi-tool” role at Safety as he has fulfilled prior to 2017. The Chiefs could figure out if they wished to retain Mitchell for example and move Redmond or Terrell up to the 53-man roster. With the other defensive pieces in place J.C. Jackson could take on the other corner… with a year of NFL experience. Heck, he may be as talented as Peters, so retaining Revis is moot.

 

It could be that Veach plans to re-negotiate a contract with Darrelle Revis that is more in line with what the value of Revis, age 32, should be. It also should be totally cap friendly. Revis has been an Island CB but he doesn’t need to be with the Secondary I have created. The point is, Revis cost is going to be $4.5M towards the cap but the big cost is already committed $8M in signing bonuses. If Veach believes Revis can do the RCB role as a starter… I think he goes for it. At the same time, finding Reid, a top quality Safety is a big addition where the weakness is depth in the back end defense. Reid could take the every day starter role immediately but if added to the mix and brought along with a lot coaching and grooming, he has a high ceiling. Ron Parker? Depends on how Reid pans out but lets project that Parker is around for one more season.

 

For the offense, I believe adding Hayden Hurst gives Patrick Mahomes another big target receiver as the #2 TE behind Travis Kelce. He has great hands, runs routes well and is a good blocker. What more can be asked for? As noted, I might have opted for an ILB. With my last pick, NT B.J. Hill falling to this round is probably unrealistic but, I don’t think he is a Round 1, or 2, quality player. There are probably two linemen that are good Day-One Nose Tackles. The rest fall somewhere below and how they are perceived depends on all the different views and needs.

 

What This Type of Draft Does

This type of draft makes any need resolvable with a Free Agent signing. It is my thought that two Free Agents to resolve remaining exposures would be an effective and miserly use of Cap funds:

 

  1. #2 QB – I vote for Davis Webb
  2. Add a veteran starter to the offensive line – a meaningful addition like Mitch Schwartz

 

There is more work to do. Let’s root for GM Brett Veach to get after it. Uncover some gems in the UDFA ranks following the draft. Sign one or more starting quality Free Agents. Add players for depth. Cuts are going to be made and from the resulting cap space in 2018. It’s my view that much of what needs to be accomplished as a “goal” can be done with a modicum of efficiency. Some solutions will come on a one-year deal and perhaps one or two more of an extended career with the Kingdom efficiency. Or Brett Veach might find a gem on another teams Practice Squad like he did with K Harrison Butker. From my frame of reference, I do not see the offense suffering a set back unless it is via the performance of Patrick Mahomes himself. The other pieces are in place as they existed at the departure of Alex Smith. This means, for me, that as much focus on defense support in this off season will be the extent to which the Chiefs are able to balance the three phases of the game.

 

What Veach is Doing Now?

The scouting staff, is digging and churning through all known scouted players, getting ready for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and Pro-Days to follow. These are now events that are just days away. Veach and Co. started the process as soon, as or even before the, season ended. The Shrine and Senior Bowl Games provided views of college players they wanted to see in game situations in person by multiple staff members. Players who participated will have risen or fallen in the estimation of the scouting crew and this provides input for the next events. It is my hope that Mr. Veach is able to execute a meaningful trade in the process of all these activities – close an exposure in the roster so that the draft can be more efficiently utilized.

Who Gets Released to Achieve Cap Space Gain?

Having covered the Exposures of the Chiefs, almost all of which are related to a very low ranking defense, it’s time to take a look at the actual player releases which will accomplish with efficiency, acquiring enough cap space from which Brett Veach is able to operate. I read through Seth Keyser’s remarks this week at ArrowheadPride and his views are similar to my own as far as who should, and must, be released for the Chiefs to move their defense into a zone of acceptability. In Part II I worked to show how the exposures were inter-related, and thus so too are the solutions. In those remarks, I concluded:

 

  1. The effectiveness of the pass rush by Justin Houston was affected by the lack of solid work by the Nose Tackle and having no counterpart at OLB that was productive on the opposite side as a Pass Rusher.
  2. With No pass rush, the weaknesses of the Cornerback was exposed – there was no starting RCB of stature enough to force the opposing offense to throw the ball anywhere else but the right side – Peters effectiveness was thus also reduced.When the pass rush is ineffective the coverage suffers at the same time.
  3. Stephen Nelson was effective inside but was used all around and removed from slot CB which reduced his effectiveness.
  4. In week one, when Eric Berry suffered his Achilles tear, the Chiefs ability to attack the run support game and effectively support the secondary in front of them was curtailed. The Chiefs misused the talents of Daniel Sorensen who played all over the place in Sutton’s effort to stem the bleeding but was ineffective in replacing the areas of play where Eric Berry excelled – the missing ingredient in the aerial defense and run support.
  5. Ron Parker, who fit well when paired with Eric Berry at Safety, was exposed even further in his own ability to support the front seven against the run – missed tackles becoming more readily noticeable.
  6. The depth across the board was ineffective.
  7. The acquisition of Benny Logan on a one year contract did not resolve the nose tackle exposure – he is a good Defensive Lineman, but he is not able to do what Dontari Poe did for the pass rush or even in stopping the run.

 

 

Proposed Player Releases –

Example of obtaining $42M or $43M+ in Cap Space

  • Alex Smith – this move has already been completed. The value of Cap Space Recovery moved the organization from about a $7M deficit to about a $7M positive.
  • Release Tamba Hali – as much as I greatly appreciate the man and his time in KC, he offered little or nothing to the defense for the past 2 seasons at a very great cost.

  • Release Derrick Johnson –  hate this, absolutely. DJ noticeably lost a step and did not play 2017 at “His” Level. I don’t believe he will be able to in 2018 either. It is possible I am in error. Until that is demonstrated, it is time for DJ to retire.
  • Release Dee Ford – The Chiefs have given Ford enough opportunity as a One Pick. He has failed, time to go. Of course there are 2 Caveats. One: he fails his Physical in March. The Chiefs are on the hook for his 2018 salary – $8.7M. Two: Veach is unable to find any upgrade or cheaper alternative who can be depended upon to be a starter. Ford is recovered and rehabbed by Season start and the Chiefs suffer through another season. [Note: Dee Ford will be on the roster in 2018: he failed his physical so his salary is guaranteed for next year]

  • Release Dustin Colquitt – Another tough one, not a release – he is a free agent. His salary demand is likely to be in excess of $5M. The Chiefs invite a UDFA, or, use their #6 Draft pick to draft their target replacement for Dustin. It’s not that I wish Colquitt gone. His age and monies are the determinate here. Caveat: if Veach reaches an acceptable 2 year deal with Colquitt that is economical.
  • Release Allen Bailey – Bailey is the last of the Three Amigos (and the other two are already gone). He has done nothing wrong, he fulfills the basic role of a DE. The Chiefs have on the roster existing players who can fill the “Basic Role” at a far cheaper price.
  • Release Ron Parker – Ron Parker has been more than a journeyman Free Safety. His weaknesses are obvious and were exposed in 2016 and 2017.
  • Release Darrelle Revis – gave okay performance, nothing stellar but nothing to crow about either.
  • Release Charcandrick West – Just doesn’t float the boat for what the return is. At the same time, DAT is not renewed either but for West, see below.  

 

OTC Example of doing all of the above

No other players on the Roster except Daniel Sorensen ($4.5M) would I indicate cutting. This leaves Justin Houston ($20M), Eric Fisher ($14M) and Eric Berry ($13M) as the only players whose salary cap hit exceeds $10M. Due to this, and due to the fact that Eric Fisher ‘s performance has been above league average (however, he has failed to live up to the potential of a #1 pick). I have considered that Veach could find a less costly LT alternative. In which case, I deliberated and rejected releasing Fisher to Free Agency. His Cap number is high and at best, the Chiefs would have about $5M in dead money if released after June 1. He is not on my list of departures for 2018.

 

The OTC Version provides the following example. It has a basic cap deficit, with Al Smith included of $-12M. We have to presume they are far more accurate than I. I came up with 49M and OTC has 42M. So we use their version. I presume my error is related to Alex Smith’s numbers. The view below shows how the vantage shifts in 2019 and 2020 monies.

 

 

Year Total Liabilities Salary Cap (Projected) Cap Room
2018 $137,536,739 $179,568,750 $  42,032,011
2019 $  99,772,318 $190,000,000 $  90,227,682
2020 $  86,959,933 $200,000,000 $113,040,067

 

 

There are changes that one might make in the above list. For example, let’s say that Veach does not release Bailey, Revis and Parker. With Berry, Parker and Sorensen — plus Murray and draft pick of quality — the Safety role is in good hands. At cornerback? Revis provides satisfactory RCB coverage, Fuller is used in his inside role where he has excelled, and this with LCB Peters. Nelson becomes first backup and the Chiefs add a draft pick who is capable of being on the 53 man roster or better. Add to this two players who are on the IR: Will Redmond and Steven Terrell. Redmond might be the huge sleeper here but has had two injuries and has not proved out. Terrell is another example of this. If one or both find their spot on the 53 man roster, the corners are set with depth, or at least. Both are capable of resolving the depth problem at cornerback.

 

By keeping Bailey you have a bookend basic Performer opposite Chris Jones. RN-R and Jarvis Jenkins provide the depth.

 

The problem then becomes what to do about the Nose Tackle? I have seen many suggestions about this but I think this is the perfect position to bring in that heavy weight FA, regardless of who that is. Logan can be kept but his cost is $8M+. By not renewing him, and using a FA of high value, the Chiefs still have cap room of about $20M, look for depth players to add at low cost and using the quality scouting crew, Veach finds one or two other players.

 

 

Year Total Liabilities Salary Cap (Projected) Cap Room
2018 $151,467,531 $179,568,750 $28,101,219

 

 

This allows me to use the draft to get my ILB who will fulfill the WIL role of DJ, add the Safety noted above, still retaining most of $20M of cap space after signing a nose tackle Free Agent, say for example, at a cost of $9M to bring Poe back or sign one of the other FA NT talked about around the pundit and analyst circles. With no #1 pick, AND using a $10M figure, Veach has $18M to work with and covering the signing of the rookie incomers noting that there is no #1 pick cost in this to cover, the Chiefs use $6M or less and Veach still has $12M to work with for signings.

 

Have we covered it all? No, I kept Demetrius Harris for example but I add a TE to my draft list requirement and we still need the backup QB. I am not intent on Bray at all. He can stay at less than $2M if needed. I would far prefer to release him and find an experienced QB needing a place to land. I have $12M to work with right? I can’t get it all done, nor can Veach but by using this type of example, I believe the Chiefs can improve the defense significantly and not lose ground in competitiveness at all.

 

What is really going to be a problem is if Dee Ford cannot pass the physical and the Chiefs are going to pay him his $8.7M. If Dee Ford cannot play in 2018 then the Chiefs have a disaster on their hands. If he can, at least we have a starter opposite Houston. [Note: As mentioned above, Dee Ford failed his physical so his salary is guaranteed in 2018. Ford’s cap hit, if cut, would be $8.7M. See Sportrac.com]

 

My view is that additional cap money will have to be used to find a suitable player. I proposed in comment a couple of weeks ago that Junior Galette (#80 ranked FA by Walter Football) might fit and would be an OLB that might be enough to put pressure on in the pass rush. I have seen other suggestions. Then Keyser suggested the same alternative. Of course I  no longer am satisfied that Ford can or will be the quality player on the outside that he was drafted to be. I  would like to see an alternative here but there are so many caveats to this problem, that this is the one place I fear that the Brett Veach comes up short BECAUSE the walk on solutions are already drafted and in my own research, there is no such player after those in round one. Maybe I am wrong. I have been before.

 

 

 

David Bell –  “looking forward to the Next Thing that Brett Veach Engineers”

*NSLU: No Stone Left Unturned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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