By assigning offensive tackle Branden Albert the franchise label, trading for QB Alex Smith, and hanging on to WR Dwayne Bowe with a $56 million deal, the new-old-new-look (Andy Reid) Kansas City Chiefs have set the table for being able to take the best player available in the rapidly-approaching April 2013 NFL Draft.
Well, they have within reason. Alabama Guard Chance Warmack would be a welcome addition anywhere, but you just don’t take a guard #1 overall. If I were their GM, I would certainly consider it with the rookie wage scale intact as I believe him to be the top player overall. Because of that very rookie wage scale, yes, I’d at least consider it. Word is he’s a once-in-a-decade guard.
But he’s still a guard.
Oklahoma LT Lane Johnson seems head and shoulders the best big-school athlete at the position and could wind up being the best professional tackle in the group, but he’s relatively inexperienced at the position.
More and more I hear Star Lotulelei’s name being talked about at the top, despite the heart issues. People are just assuming he’s fine and that will be that. We all hope that will be the case, and Andy Reid adores his defensive
blankie tackle lineman Fletcher Cox like Star Lotulelei if he does check out healthy with the doctors.
Whether Reid runs a 3-4 or some wide-tackle-nine defense, Lotulelei at nose tackle would let loose a 350-pound defensive end if you put Dontari Poe there and have former top-five pick Tyson Jackson at the other end. Yet another top-five pick, “bust” Glenn Dorsey, may be released any day and take his correspondingly high pre-cap salary with him.
Even so, drafting Lotulelei would suddenly give the Chiefs a defensive line that looks nearly as mean as when the Ravens put Haloti Ngata at end.
It’s a very tempting choice from the strategic point of view as well as the tactical. They’ve eliminated the need to overreach for West Virginia QB Geno Smith now while keeping Alex Smith’s blind side well-protected with a dangerous running back in Jamaal Charles behind him. Though the offensive line could use some help, keeping Albert was key.
Another real option is to draft another offensive tackle and that would be Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M. He was Johnny Football’s blindside bud for the QB’s Heisman campaign last year and held up well under the pressure of the defenses of the SEC last year. While he lacks Lane Johnson’s athletic ability, he’d be perfectly suited to come in and start on the right side to give them “bookend” tackles and nearly complete the offensive transformation…
…or perhaps by then, Johnson could be the guy. It appears he has the highest ceiling of the tackles and he could learn the NFL tackle position for a year on the right side and be used as contract leverage with Albert next season.
Stranger things have happened. The Miami Dolphins got Jonathan Martin – Andrew Luck’s blindside protector at Stanford – and started him at right tackle, probably ushering out LT Jake Long this year. Whether it’s Joeckel, Johnson or whomever else at the tackle position, the die for next season will have been cast.
If Andy Reid has final say, it looks like in the end the choice could be the Utah Ute star, Star Lotulelei, Major Major.
Roger, Over. Over…Dunn.
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye