With the No. 21 pick in the draft, I ignored the Kansas City Chiefs obvious need for another pass-rushing specialist and took what many experts think is the top offensive lineman in the draft, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo. In a previous mock draft that I did for another venue, I had Castonzo going as high as #9 to the Dallas Cowboys. If Castonzo makes it to the Chiefs at #21, I think that Head Coach Todd Haley, General Manager Scott Pioli, and quarterback Matt Cassel will be dancing in the streets. And running back Jamaal Charles may have dreams of 2,000-yard rushing seasons in his head.
As well as they played in 2010, the Chiefs offensive line is aging at guard and center, and the right tackle position has been a problem since Pioli and Haley arrived in 2009. Drafting Castonzo – at worst – gives the Chiefs a gigantic upgrade at right tackle. Even Castonzo’s harshest critics believe that he can be a Pro Bowl caliber right tackle in the NFL.
However, Castonzo has the raw skill and talent to beat out Brandon Albert for the left tackle position and move Albert to left guard – the position he starred at in college – or right tackle. At 6’-7” and 305 lbs, Castonzo has the size to play left tackle. His speed and mobility in both pass- and run-blocking are elite.
If Albert moves to left guard alongside Castonzo, the Chiefs might have this decade’s version of the Hall-of-Fame Art Shell/Gene Upshaw tandem on the left side and they could just dare teams to try and stop them.
Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters could then move to center for the rapidly aging and possibly retiring, Casey Wiegmann, and suddenly the Chiefs offensive line is even better than they were last year. Anyone that watched the Chiefs last two games against the Oakland Raiders in Week 17, and the Baltimore Ravens in the 30-7 beat-down on Wild Card Weekend in the playoffs, saw an O-line that got dominated by physical front sevens. Neither game was a fluke. Castonzo would be the first piece of restoring the offensive line.
The other reason I like Castonzo for the Chiefs at this point is that he fits perfectly the new model of the Chiefs kind of player. A four-year starter at Boston College, Castonzo rates off-the-charts with scouts and coaches for work ethic and leadership ability. On top of that, he was a candidate to be a Rhodes Scholar this year and plans to do cancer research when his playing days are over. He’s the kind of athlete NFL teams dream of getting because there will be ZERO off-field issues with Castonzo.
As far as the other players available in this mock that I considered taking at #21, my choices were OT Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin, LB Akeem Ayers of UCLA, DT Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple, OLB Brooks Reed of Arizona and finally Derek Sherrod, the OT from Mississippi State.
Carimi is another Castonzo, only with a nastier attitude, and Sherrod has been skyrocketing up the draft charts this off-season. Either man would greatly enhance the Chiefs O-line. Ayers was a stud throughout college, but some less-than-impressive workout numbers have dropped his stock. Reed is his opposite – a probable third-round pick coming out of college that has soared up draft boards since then. Wilkerson would be the guy that I could see Pioli taking as he might be the best – and safest – defensive tackle left for the 3-4 defense in the draft, and that is the next biggest need for the Chiefs.
The 2010 draft may go down as one of the better drafts the Chiefs have had in the last 10 years, despite my refusal to give any props to the two 2nd-round picks, CB Javier Arenas and RB Dexter McCluster, who barely made a blip on the radar screen other than two punt returns and one screen pass that were highlight-worthy. Pioli and Haley have some specific needs to get in this draft, like a wide receiver to compliment Dwayne Bowe, and a linebacker to replace an aging Mike Vrabel.
If they succeed, the AFC West title they won last year won’t seem to be just a fluke of an easy schedule.
For more about the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to check out the hornface.com NFL Mock Draft.
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