Chief Concerns: Desmond Bailey
Jamaal Charles is an extraordinary talent capable of seemingly superhuman feats on the field.
Not so extraordinary…are his knee ligaments…his bones….the delicate housing of his brain…nor his spinal column. One play could reduce Charles to a mere mortal – a spectator – reluctantly watching the game from the sidelines.
The better teams in the NFL – the ones who consistently carve deep holes in the post-season tournament – have a greater respect for the human fragility of their starting runningbacks. Those teams also have an understanding that without excellent depth at the HB position, they simply will not be playing in February.
Despite the prevailing mantra that the NFL is now a ‘Passing League’, Mother Nature balks at that notion in December and January when her bitter frost encases fields and her frigid breath stiffens throwing arms.
The Chiefs best heed the wind chimes.
Right now, Kansas City is ill-equipped for a legitimate playoff run in terms of their stable of halfbacks. Backups Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray are what I consider ‘spellbacks’ – intended to give Charles an occasional breather but neither of them is talented enough to be a viable starter in Charles’ stead.
Ultimately what you want in your backup HB is a player who, from a talent standpoint, is arguably as good as or just a notch below the starter and who could conceivably be a featured back for your team in the future.
Seattle’s Robert Turbin (2012/round 4/Utah State) , Baltimore’s Bernard Pierce (2012/round 3/Temple), Atlanta’s Jaquizz Rogers (2012/round 5/Oregon State) and San Francisco’s LaMichael James (2012/round 2/Oregon) are prime examples of this for their respective clubs. It’s no shocker those teams made noise in the playoffs, especially the Ravens who took home the hardware.
Obviously there are other important factors to a team becoming a perennial playoff/Super Bowl contender. It goes without saying that a stout defense, solid offensive line, and good/great quarterback play are essential components to being a winner. However, having exceptional depth at HB is equally as vital.
In 2013, the draft and free agency offer the Chiefs opportunities to upgrade their corps of backs. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid utilizes an offense that doesn’t require a HB to be the typical, bruising, Adrian Peterson-like workhorse. Instead, smaller, speedier, and more shiftier backs – like Charles or LeSean McCoy in Philly – would be ideal in KC.
That said, let’s take a look at a few free agents and draft prospects that fit that mold:
- Reggie Bush (6’0″, 200 lbs) – Still one of the league’s most explosive runners, Bush more than proved he was capable of being a featured back in Miami – averaging a respectable 4.7 yards per carry while racking up 2,072 yards and 12 td’s over the last two seasons. At 28 years old, Bush still has plenty left in the tank and the thought of pairing him with Charles in Reid’s system should excite Chief fans and frighten just about every defensive coordinator in the NFL.
- Ahmad Bradshaw (5’10″, 215 lbs)- Bradshaw continues his recovery from surgery on a nagging, fractured right foot suffered against Miami in week 8 of the 2011 season. He rushed for 1,014 yards for 6 TD’s with a 4.6 ypc avg in 14 games last season despite the foot ailing him. Recent reports from his doctors state his foot is healing fine and that he’d be ready for OTA’s this spring. Bradshaw (26), was released by NYG moreso due to his CAP number and health than a decline in his skills. When healthy, he’s one the league’s more explosive backs and nobody knows this better than Reid who faced Bradshaw plenty in the NFC East.
- Montee Ball ( 5’10″, 215lbs/Wisconsin) – Ball combines exceptional acceleration, quickness and power into a compact frame that enables him to be highly effective both outside and inside the tackles. He blocks well and reminds me of Charles in that, for his size, he will not hesitate to lower his shoulder and deliver a blow when running inside or near the sidelines. Voted Big-10 Offensive Player of The Year in 2011, Ball is a fantastic talent that could be available in the 4th round where he’d be a relative steal for Kansas City.
- Zac Stacy (5’8″, 216 lbs/Vanderbilt) – Easily one of the hardest runners and best blocking backs in the draft, Stacy is criminally underrated. With a build and running style akin to that of Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew, Stacy finished his Vanderbilt career as the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards. Stacy is fast, shifty and violent. He assails defenses with a beautiful blend of power and quickness. One of my personal favorites in this draft, Stacy will most likely be a day-3 pick. Hopefully the Chiefs have him on their radar.
- Le’Veon Bell – (6’1″, 230 lbs/Michigan State) - I’ve already profiled Bell and don’t have much more to say about his skillset. The reason he makes this list is the fact that, despite his size, he can run with the quickness and elusiveness of a smaller back while also utilizing his power to run over people. He’d be a perfect compliment to Charles while adding some needed physicality to the Chiefs ground attack.
- Jonathan Franklin (5’10″, 205 lbs/ UCLA) – Franklin is an explosive, homerun threat capable of scoring anytime he touches the ball and is similar to Charles in a variety of ways – most notably in his versatility as a receiver out of the backfield. Franklin – who rushed for 1,734 yards and 13 tds with a 6.1 ypc avg in 2012 – would thrive in Andy Reid’s offense as he is extremely effective in space with outstanding field vision. A 2nd-team, All Pac-12 selection last year, Franklin, could be available in the later rounds where the Chiefs could take him after addressing more pressing needs with their earlier picks.
Talk to ya later…