With Kansas City’s offseason upon us, and free agency and the draft ahead, the organization has to get a read on where improvements need to be made and get an accurate gauge on how they stand up against their rivals in a balanced AFC West. This post will be the first of a series that evaluates Chiefs’ personnel at each position and compares them to what’s available in Denver, San Diego or Oakland.
Center isn’t the most glamorous of positions, but it’s an area Kansas City needs to make an upgrade. Casey Wiegmann is 38 years old and the only center in the AFC West who’s not young or in his prime. According to ESPN’s Scouts Inc., Wiegmann has problems handling big nose tackles one-on-one, a direct consequence of his being the smallest center in the division at 285 lbs. What keeps the veteran going is his durability and his understanding of blocking schemes, enabling him to help on double teams.
Denver and Oakland both have good young centers, with 24-year old J.D. Walton and 27-year-old Samson Satele respectively. Walton is quick off the ball, and very aggressive and will only get better as he gains experience. Satele is not agile, something that hurts when your offensive line needs to block on misdirection plays, but he handles one-on-one situations effectively.
The standard at the position in the AFC West is San Diego’s Nick Hardwick. His athletic ability in pass protection and blocking down is just the start. Hardwick is also the leader of the Charger line, with what the scouts call quick recognition skills. He’s not physically dominant in pure muscle situations, something that keeps him from being in the NFL elite, but Hardwick has more than enough to be the best in the West.
Kansas City wants to build an offense around running the ball and that begins with controlling the interior. While Wiegmann deserves credit for his long career and his intelligence, it’s a big liability when your center can’t block one-on-one in the running game. This is a spot where Kansas City must improve in 2012 and that improvement likely has to come from a new starter.