The past two days we’ve started an offseason review of the Kansas City Chiefs’ roster, in preparation for free agency and the draft. The review consists of looking at the Chiefs personnel in light of what’s available to the three other AFC West teams. Since we covered center and the tackles over the weekend, we’ll jump into the interior and round out the offensive line with a look at the guards today.
Kansas City’s Jon Asamoah will enter his third year as a starter in 2012 and while he’s not quite where the Chiefs’ need him to be the young player is developing. ESPN’s Scouts Inc, loves his agility and body control, and further praises his lower body strength, a vital asset on the inside where defensive tackles try and collapse the pocket with a bull rush. The only thing keeping Asamoah from being a quality NFL starter is inconsistencies in technique and there’s every reason to think that will improve with continued experience. Ryan Lilja is a veteran who can move well, but he doesn’t have the strength and at 290 lbs, is the lightest guard in the AFC West. Lilja can help you win, but at 30, he’s about to hit the downside of his career.
Zane Beadles is the top guard for division champion Denver, and at 25 there’s both improvement needed and the time to make it happen. Beadles can be beaten with a bull rush and his run blocking is spotty, something that’s going to loom very large as his team presumably goes into the offseason with plans to construct an offense around a running quarterback. Technique is a problem, and scouts point out that he played his college ball at Utah, where the offensive lineman stay in a standup position to protect the passer. It’s a big transition from that to where he’s at now. 34-year old veteran Russ Hochstein is on the opposite side and a liability at the position, at least if he has to do more than fill in because of the occasional injury.
San Diego’s guards were like the rest of the offensive line and had injury problems, but I really like the talent level here, particularly 24-year old Luis Vazquez. At 6’5” 334, he’s the best raw physical specimen at the position in the AFC West. He wins the praise of scouts for his body control and balance, though they want to see him get better at staying low, for better leverage. That’s a difficult challenge for a tall player, but one Vazquez will have to master. The one weakness he has that can’t be overcome is a lack of quick feet, but on the interior this can be managed much better than if he had to handle pass protection on the edge. Vazquez’ partner, Tyronne Green is a 25-year old with potential, but has a lot of work to do in recognition and improving his upper body strength.
Oakland’s guards run the gamut of the age range, with Stefen Wisniewski having completed his rookie season and Cooper Carlisle being 34 years old. Both were integral parts of a team that ran the ball well, even without Darren McFadden in the lineup for the most important part of the season.
Kansas City has themselves in good position at guard. They don’t stand out above their division rivals, but nor do they sink below. With Asamoah they have the capacity to get better and Lilja is a steady rock. If there is a quality free agent or draft choice available, I would never pass on them, regardless of position, but there’s no reason for guard to be on Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel’s mind this offseason.