AFC West: Michael Johnson
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
You want more evidence that the Kansas City Chiefs should take a defensive end in the first round of the draft?
They have nine sacks this season. That's awful. Actually, it is historically awful. If the Chiefs don't register four sacks Sunday at Cincinnati they will set the NFL record for fewest sacks. The 1981 Colts had 13 sacks.
The Chiefs, 2-13, will draft either second or third in the April draft. Many people believe Kansas City will draft a quarterback, perhaps either Oklahoma's Sam Bradford or Georgia's Matthew Stafford. But the team already has quarterback Tyler Thigpen.
He is just 24 and has been serviceable. The team could get by with Thigpen as the quarterback another year. If the team decides Thigpen can't be the long-term answer after 2009, then it could pursue another quarterback.
The need at defensive end is greater. Kansas City has been beaten badly on defense all season. Kansas City has allowed opponents at least 28 points a game in nine of its 15 games. The Chiefs have allowed 424 points, which is the third most in the NFL.
The lack of a pass rush is the team's biggest problem. It has affected the entire defense. The team gave up pass-rushing star Jared Allen in a trade to Minnesota this spring in an attempt to get multiple draft choices and rebuild. That's fine. But a replacement for Allen, who has 5.5 more sacks than the entire Chiefs' roster, is necessary.
There will be a major leadership change in Kansas City but that new group needs to recognize that the lack of a pass rush is their biggest problem. If the new brass doesn't believe it, they should ask team leader Tony Gonzalez. He said earlier this month that if Thigpen wasn't the quarterback in 2009, it would be a "disgrace." He said the problem isn't at quarterback but on defense. Gonzalez said he thought the team was 4-5 players way from being a playoff contender.
It has to start at defensive end.
The Chiefs will have their choice of players, but they need so start on the defensive line. Players such as Brian Orakpo of Texas, Michael Johnson of Georgia Tech, Aaron Maybin of Penn State and Everette Brown of Florida State should all be considered.
The draft landscape will change dramatically between now and April, but the Chiefs' greatest need won't change. If this team sets the record for fewest sacks, it's just another reason why the Chiefs have to find a difference-making pass-rusher.