Overview: For the second consecutive offseason, GM Scott Pioli took an aggressive approach to upgrade the Chiefs’ offense. A year after drafting Jonathan Baldwin and signing Steve Breaston to improve the WR corps, Pioli sought to increase the depth at other skill-position spots. He signed QB Brady Quinn, RB Peyton Hillis and TE Kevin Boss, all in reserve roles, though it is expected that Hillis and Boss will see the field often in Brian Daboll’s offense. Kansas City was also able to sign ex-Texans ORT Eric Winston, a huge boost to an offensive line that had serious issues a year ago. These moves will allow Pioli to address the defense in the draft, improving a unit that played well at times during the 2011 season. The Chiefs currently have eight draft picks — one in each of the first six rounds and two seventh-rounders.
Need No. 1: Nose tackle
Playing a 3-4 defense, the Chiefs need run stuffers in the middle of the "D." With no proven nose tackle on the roster, an anchor for the defensive line becomes a top need. The Chiefs drafted a tackle last year in Jerrell Powe, though conditioning issues resulted in the sixth-round pick seeing the field in only one game last season. Veteran NT Kelly Gregg, who was signed last offseason, is a free agent and, at age 35, likely on his last legs. Adding a dynamic player in the middle of the line — similar to what Pioli had in New England with Vince Wilfork — would make the Chiefs’ defense one of the league’s premier units.
Need No. 2: Linebacker
The Chiefs also could stand to get stronger on the second level of the defense. ILB Derrick Johnson and OLB Tamba Hali are both elite players and the keys to head coach Romeo Crennel’s scheme, but their teammates in the LB corps aren’t quite as strong. The team is high on OLB Justin Houston, a third-round pick in 2011 who came on late last season, registering 5½ sacks in the final five games. However, he still needs to develop as a run defender and his starting spot is not guaranteed. Finding a playmaking linebacker — either inside or outside — would be a great boost and make life easier for both Johnson and Hali.
Need No. 3: Safety
One of the themes of Pioli’s offseason moves was adding players at positions that were hurt by injury a year ago. Quinn, Hillis and Boss all will back up Chiefs players who ended 2011 on injured reserve. With that in mind, the team could use more help at safety through the draft. SS Eric Berry — a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2010 — played one series last year before being lost for the rest of the campaign with a torn ACL. Finding a capable third safety to back up Berry and FS Kendrick Lewis would give the team flexibility on defense, likely an extra body on special teams and most importantly, insurance in case Berry is hurt again.