Quarterback- Quarterback Trent Green is a decent quarterback but injuries and age are starting to take their toll on Green. While Green can get the ball down field decent, his mobility leaves him statuesque in the pocket and he is too frail to be considered an option for the entire 2006 NFL season. The problem for the Chiefs in 2006 is that their backups, perennial backup Damon Huard and rookie Brodie Croyle, are in no shape to carry a team. Huard is not talented enough to step up for the Chiefs and Croyle may be a good prospect in three or four years but is not ready now and questions abound about his two injured knees.
2006 NFL Grade: C
Running Back/ Full Back- Larry Johnson is going to take over the bulk of the running duties from oft-injured Priest Holmes and the Chiefs will benefit from a durable young back. Johnson, who has been critical of the usage of his talent since Vermeil drafted him, will get the chance to show what he can do over an entire season in 2006. While Johnson should have a big season in 2006, the lack of a consistent passing game will mean that teams will bunch up in the box to stuff Johnson and let Green try and air it out to his overrated receiving corps.
2006 NFL Grade: B+ for potential, but C for execution.
Wide Receiver/ Tight End- Tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Jason Dunn are solid bookends for the offensive line, with Gonzalez providing a solid target anywhere on the field for Trent Green and Jason Dunn providing run blocking and a target on the goal line. In the receiving corps, Green needs someone to step up in 2006 as a standout target. While Eddie Kennison and Dante Hall should provide adequate receiving options, look for second year receivers Craphonso Thorpe and Samie Parker, as well as rookie Chris Hannon, to step up and provide a plethora of targets. This trio of young receivers is good enough talent wise to compete in the NFL, but talent does not always translate to excellence.
2006 NFL Grade: B
Offensive Line- The Chiefs’ offensive line is solid but aging and a few injuries could decimate the chances of any Chiefs offensive success in 2006. Center Casey Wiegmann, guards Will Shields and Brians Waters, along with tackles John Welbourn and Willie Roaf, have all had excellent careers so far in the NFL. But as a group they may not be the most sturdy in the league and don’t count on this starting five to be the starting give at the end of the 2006 NFL season. The X Factor in 2006 is tackle Kyle Turley, who hasn’t played in two years and his health is questionable. If Turley can come back to the same level he was at in New Orleans, he will provide a safety net at the tackle position. But the offensive line, which should be the steadiest part of the Chiefs’ lineup, will end up being the shakiest.
2006 NFL Grade: A- talent wise, but in reality they will be a C or C+.
Defensive Line- Rookie Tamba Hali was a solid pick for the Kansas City Chiefs, as they need another pass rusher on the defensive line. Hali will be a steady performer in the 2006 NFL season, with help from fellow end Eric Hicks in pass rush. The concern is in Hali’s ability to run stop, but they have two solid defensive tackles in Ryan Sims and Lional Dalton to provide run defense. The unit can be very good if they keep it together and the pass rush should be very good for the Chiefs.
2006 NFL Grade: B
Linebacker- Derrick Johnson, in his second season in the league, will step up and become a defensive leader for Kansas City in 2006. Johnson has the athleticism to pass rush and the tenacity to run stuff on the edges. Johnson will get some help from Kawika Mitchell and Kendrell Bell, who give good complimentary skills to Johnson at the second level. Much like when the Chiefs were better defensively with Derrick Thomas, the linebackers are going to be the big playmakers in 2006.
2006 NFL Grade: B+
Defensive Back- Cornerback Patrick Surtain should be pretty solid in 2006, and Lenny Walls might benefit from Surtain’s shutdown ability. But that is if both can stay on the field and Surtain needs to maintain the same effort for all 16 regular season games in order to give the Kansas City safeties some opportunity to make plays deep. Safeties Greg Wesley, Sammy Knight, and William Bartee should be able to make some plays but may end up with the curse of an underachieving defense, which is high tackle counts. If the first two levels of the defense can play well in 2006, then the corners and safeties can show their playmaking ability. But don’t count on this to happen for the entire season.
2006 NFL Grade: B for potential, but C+ for execution.
Kicker/ Punter- Kicker Lawrence Tynes and punter Dustin Colquitt are decent talents at the specialist positions but for the Chiefs to compete in the 2006 NFL season, they will need to be spectacular. The Chiefs were in many close games in 2005 and with aging talent or talent that hasn’t blossomed yet, Tynes will need to put a few through to tie or win games and Colquitt needs to help out the defense by pinning teams inside the 20. Colquitt may do this, but Tynes won’t live up to the standard that Herman Edwards wants out of his special teams.
2006 NFL Grade- C+
2006 NFL Projection- Kansas City is going to hit the bottom of the AFC West in 2006, sinking below the 8-8 mark, probably 6-10 or 7-9. Herman Edwards is a good coach, but the Chiefs haven’t been healthy or talented enough to give coaches like Dick Vermeil or Edwards a chance in Kansas City.