The Chiefs’ 53-man roster is in and, you guessed it, there are some surprises. In addition to key free agent signings Kelly Gregg, LeRon McClain and Jared Gaither as well as the Chiefs’ draft class that features Jonathan Baldwin, Rodney Hudson and Justin Houston, there are some other additions to the team that you (or I) may not have heard about or know much about (a quick aside: it won’t be long before we are all familiar with the skills of Jalil Brown, Jerrell Powe and Allen Bailey). Some of these new faces could take the NFL by storm. Most will fill special team roles and eventually be replaced. Let’s try to see if we can figure out who will do what and where.
Let’s start with the first two who came from out of nowhere. Keary Colbert (pictured) and Anthony Becht both were out of the NFL, working other football related jobs before they got the call from the Chiefs and they came in for a tryout. Colbert was an assistant tight ends coach at USC (his and Matt Cassel’s alma mater) before deciding to take another crack at the NFL. Becht had a football analyst gig set up (in addition to running his own football camp) before he was beckoned to suit his 6’6″ 250 pound frame in a Chiefs uniform. These two unlikely Chiefs make up the surprises on offense. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Keary Colbert (6’1″ 205 lb) was drafted in the second round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. To examine how he was perceived when he entered the league, I looked at an MSN Fox Sports scouting report from 2004. The highlights:
- outstanding hands makes plays on the run
- he instills confidence in his QB because his reliability keeps the chains moving
- he lacks ideal size and speed
Fast forward past three other NFL teams and a UFL team to the present where he seems to belong on the roster as a back-end possession wide receiver that will catch a pass, a skill that newly-cut WR Verran Tucker failed to bring with him from last year. I am not going to get excited about him but, if he does see the field, Matt Cassel will find ways to get him the ball where he can make the catch. Reliability isn’t a bad skill for a back-end wideout but I do not see him sticking. Let’s see if he stays after Jonathan Baldwin returns.
Anthony Becht caught 21 touchdowns in his NFL career to date. As the New York Jets’ first round draft pick (27th overall), Becht served as a go-to endzone target for the Buccaneers, Rams and Cardinals in addition to the Jets. Todd Haley was the Jets’ receivers coach when Becht was there and he was a major factor in convincing Becht to join the Chiefs’ training camp. It appeared as if Becht was going to be using his big frame for blocking instead of pass-catching but with Tony Moeaki out for the year, Becht may be more of a target than originally presumed.
When you have a team that also employs TE Leonard Pope, you can catch a not-so-subtle pattern that the Chiefs like big TE’s that can block and are elevated above safeties for endzone passes. All in all, not a bad model. Obviously, a Chiefs fan needs no lecture in the concept that a TE needs athleticism in addition to size to excel but, if your electric young TE is hobbled, Pope and Becht seem to be a good plan B (to put a faint silver lining on some awful news). I think Becht will contribute. It is still more important for him to block than run patterns but, if he can catch passes better than Pope, he will be a good find.
Now, the defensive newcomers. Let’s switch gears by introducing undrafted free agent defensive lineman Brandon Bair. He is from the University of Oregon (I won’t consider that a negative), is the only new undrafted free agent to make the Chiefs roster and he is sized at 6’7″ 272 lbs. The NFL.com has this to say about Bair:
“Bair is a college defensive tackle but will not be able to hold up inside at the next level. We see him as a developmental 3-4 defensive end prospect with length and grow potential. He struggles to hold his ground at the line and takes too long to disengage but does provide some value tracking down plays with good range. Shows good quickness off the ball rushing the passer, the potential to develop some effective moves, and the straight-lined speed to close but will never offer much as a bull rusher. Bair is a seventh rounder or rookie free agent.”
So that report is basically on the money. Bair is another project bookend who is adding some heat to Tyson Jackson’s seat. It’s no secret that Jackson has not made strides from a lackluster 2010 season. Bair’s addition is an indication that the organization is not going to let Tyson Jackson take many more lumps before letting someone else try their hand at disrupting the opposition’s running game. Allen Bailey is next in line but Brandon Bair’s hat is in the ring.
Amon Gordon (6’2″, 305) was Cleveland’s fifth-round pick and he bounced from there to Denver, Baltimore, Tennessee and most recently Seattle. ProFootballWeekly.com listed Gordon as the 4th NT on the Chiefs’ depth chart before Anthony Toribio was cut. The Chiefs dedicating two young players to the nose tackle after Kelly Gregg is a good plan because Jerrell Powe may not be ready at the beginning of next year. Gordon is in house as a veteran body that may settle in as a nose tackle after being bounced around from different systems that had him playing different positions. Will he be any good once he gets there? Probably not but he seems to be a worthy depth player in case Powe isn’t ready to go.
Finally, we have 6’3″ 224 lb safety Sabby Piscitelli. No, he’s not the newest character on the Jersey Shore; he’s the newest strong safety for the Chiefs. Sabby was the Buccaneers’ 2007 second round pick out of Oregon State. He played for Tampa Bay before being released and was picked up by the Browns midseason last year. If you want to be optimistic, you could say that he has been tossed aside in two regime changes in the past year and had some decent numbers with the Bucs when he was a regular. On the flip side, you could say that he was rejected from the Browns.
He clearly has established himself as being a capable special teamer and a versatile DB to supplant Rashard Langford as Eric Berry’s back-up. He could be a solid back-up but no one really wants him to matter since that would mean Berry would be absent. He should get a chance to stick with an organization this year.
To speak further about the cuts, the players that I was surprised to see cut were Ricky Price, Justin Cole and David Mims. Presumably, we will see some of the cut players stick on the team’s practice squad but the players that were cut are exposed until then. The Chiefs ended up keeping 10 defensive backs and 8 defensive lineman while only keeping 7 linebackers on defense. Last year, the Chiefs routinely had around 10 linebackers on the roster for most of the year. You have to wonder if the new kickoff rules have anything to do with the Chiefs’ decision to go with a different roster configuration. Are they going with lighter back-end roster guys because they know that kickoff teams aren’t going to be as important and would rather have more secondary depth?
I am not really worried about the defense other than the run defense, which I think the Chiefs will find a way to be, at worst, adequate in. The offense is a concern and Moeaki not being a part of it is a big deal. The league may not have a complete solution for Jamaal Charles but the Chiefs will not win enough games if the team cannot produce a passing threat. Solutions must come from the wide receiver corps, of whom the only incumbents are Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster and Terrence Copper. Jerheme Urban has had a promising camp but he needs to be more than an August wonder for a Chiefs team that will start the season missing Baldwin. Steve Breaston will need to show that he can succeed without the benefit of being on the same side of the field as Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
At any rate, this squad is an improvement from last year and Matt Cassel’s performance makes more of a difference than any addition. Bowe will rarely be open so, when not targeting him, Cassel will have to find the other non-Moeaki targets, something Matt Cassel had not done consistently last year. I think Cassel will find the open man if he is afforded a little more time than last year. The offensive line will have to pass block well enough to keep Cassel on his feet. This is where the suspense comes in. Can they do so?
With no game tomorrow, one more week remains before the Chiefs being their NFL season. The Bills visit Kansas City on 9/11 and may be more of a challenge than the team that nearly tied the Chiefs last year. How do you feel about the team and who are you surprised to see on or off the team? Feel free to add to anything that you have seen from the aforementioned players in recent weeks.
Note: I had trouble linking websites to this post. Height and weight were found on kcchiefs.com and the source of all other information that is not my own conjecture is cited.