Oct 7, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Chris Crocker (33) celebrates with Jake Long (77) after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs Franchise Branden Albert; Questions Linger About the Top Pick of the 2013 NFL Draft

As teams work their way down on 2013’s $123 million salary cap and let people go, the team with the 2013 NFL Draft top pick has narrowed down the choices when they signed WR Dwayne Bowe to a long-term deal, “franchised” LT Branden Albert, and signed San Francisco 49’ers QB Alex Smith as a free agent.

Or have they?

At first glance, you might look at the Chiefs’ slapping the “franchise” tag on Albert and say “Aha, well they don’t need a left tackle then after all.”

You would be right. They don’t now.

So what about other choices?

Certainly, any number of young men at other positions would help this K.C. team without really being much of a “reach.” There simply is no clear-cut guy or group of guys you can say are absolutely top-pick material.

If you look at the situation, a nose tackle for that 3-4 defense is being bandied about. Andy Reid, the new coach for KC after a dozen years as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, used to get a defensive lineman with his first-round pick six times. Reid’s well-known for his love of drafting defensive lineman, but which one would it be?

August 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Glenn Dorsey (72) sprays water on his face before a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Where would Dontari Poe fit in? That 3-4 defense has 2 top-five overall draft picks in ends Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Watch very closely what the team does with Dorsey. He’s a free agent and wasn’t in the headlines with Bowe and Dorsey is largely thought of as a bust. He’ll definitely be making less money than his original 5-year $51 million deal wherever he plays, KC or not.

Just be sure and pay special attention in the news for his name mentioned before March 12th. If he is re-signed for whatever amount, a top pick from any DL spot would seem unlikely. If he’s let go as a free agent, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will draft a defensive lineman, despite Andy Reid’s preference.

It just means that Star Lotuleilei’s heart status needs to be checked out and that he work out well at Utah’s pro day on March 20th. Keep an eye on that.

As for ends, I just don’t see a 3-4 end that merits a #1 overall pick, partly due to positional value (the LBs do the tackling in the 3-4, in general), and partly because I’m not sure the talent is there in this crop for a #1. The 2013 version of the NFL draft is deep in good talent on the defensive line but nobody stands out head and shoulders above another there. Then again, with Andy Reid and his “wide-tackle nine” defense, I’m not quite sure what they’ll do.

Still, maybe too risky – you can’t “J-Marc” a top pick and recover too well from it.

The safest pick is Chance Warmack of Alabama, but positional value nearly forbids it. He’s an outstanding player at offensive guard and I’ve said since day one he’s the best overall football player in this year’s draft. If he’s not an All-Pro someday, he should still make the Pro Bowl at some point – that’s the projection on him.

Interesting Dilemma for sure, but there’s another thing.

As many of you know, I had been a Miami Dolphins fan before the Carolina Panthers were born in the 90’s, and they’re still my favorite AFC team. I remember them since before the days of Dan Marino, but it was Marino who really pulled in my interest in the NFL for good.

They have a similar situation at the LT position this year as KC may be trying to set up for next year. They have a rookie RT they used when they drafted Andrew Luck’s blind side protector from Stanford last year in the second round. He had fallen to them and they had a need on a couple of levels for a good tackle so they grabbed him.

This season, they’re using him as leverage in contract talks with former #1 draft pick, LT Jake Long. Long has had some issues after a great first couple of seasons and has seen his share of injuries in the last two seasons.

Branden Albert has, too. I am now thinking that KC plans to draft an offensive lineman (sorry, coach Reid) to serve several needs.

One, they can probably go ahead and start him on the right side of the line. With more and more emphasis on the passing game these days, so-called “bookend” tackles are no longer seen so much as a luxury as they are a necessity.

Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, then?

Ehh…probably, but not necessarily.

Joeckel’s a fine tackle but ran a 5.30-40 at the NFL Combine. No, 40-times really aren’t relevant for tackles in and of themselves, but it does show he’s not a great athlete.

The guy that intrigues me the most is Oklahoma LT Lane Johnson, but the knock on him is his inexperience. He ran the second-fastest time of any LT with an incredible 4.72 in the 40. Again, not useful…other than to demonstrate his own athletic prowess. He only had 28 bench reps, so when he gets into an NFL weight program, he’ll add some strength. I think he may have the highest ceiling over time of any of this year’s group, but it could be a few years before he blossoms.

Being unable to find a probable suitor for their top pick, we will all have K.C. under the microscope to try and dissect the details.

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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