Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This will be the offseason that left tackle Eric Fisher couldn’t have last year and it’s important for the Kansas City Chiefs that he takes advantage and emerges a stronger and better player.

Fisher’s biggest deficiency when he joined the Chiefs as the first overall draft pick in 2013 was his strength. As a rookie he tended to get pushed around by the stronger opponents he faced.

He couldn’t address that deficiency last offseason because he had surgery to repair a balky shoulder. Fisher was unable to spend the necessary time in the weight room and it showed this season. He had trouble dealing with stronger opponents again in 2014.

“He didn’t have an offseason this year,’’ general manager John Dorsey said. “He was doing rehabilitation with his shoulder. I think he grew exponentially as the year went on. He’ll need a whole year of strength and conditioning to get bigger and stronger, but I’m happy with where he’s projected he should be.’’

The Chiefs have a lot invested in seeing that Fisher becomes the player they projected him to be. If he does, they won’t have to spend free-agent money or a premium draft pick on a new left tackle.

Fisher was better in 2014 than he was as a rookie but still not good enough. Not even close. Fisher was rated 72nd by Pro Football Focus among 84 offensive tackles who played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps this year.

As Dorsey said, he was better in the second half of the season than the first. He still had his awful moments down the stretch, most notably a pitiful performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16.

Fisher has the qualities the Chiefs saw in him when they made him the No. 1 overall pick. He is a superb athlete and he’s willing to put in the time to improve.

But Fisher has to get better and the time is now.

“I thought Fisher made big strides this year,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “He played every game and (held) down the left tackle position. He did all that without having really any offseason. I think he’s looking forward to an offseason where he’s not rehabbing an injury. It will be important that he gets in and continues to increase his strength, which he’ll do.’’

 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Left tackle Eric Fisher has had more than his share of tough times in the Kansas City Chiefs' first two preseason games. But was it realistic to expect more from Fisher at this point?

Probably not. Fisher had offseason surgeries to repair a sports hernia and a balky shoulder. He missed valuable time in the weight room last winter and every snap during the team portion of offseason practice.

Fisher
So expecting Fisher, who struggled as a rookie right tackle last season, to be a polished player two weeks into the preseason at his new position is a bit much.

“Coming off two surgeries you’ve got to go through some stuff and get stronger every day,’’ Fisher said Tuesday. “That’s kind of what I’m going through, that’s what the preseason is for, that’s what I’m out here doing. Obviously, sometimes after a major surgery, your shoulder is going to get a little tired, your body is going to get a little tired. You’ve got to fight through that and just keep going. But as you recover you get stronger and that’s what I’m going through right now.’’

There’s a deadline of sorts for Fisher in that quest. It’s not Saturday night’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium or the final exhibition game on Aug. 28 against the Packers in Green Bay.

It’s the regular season opener on Sept. 7 against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead. Fisher has three weeks to prepare himself, and he needs to take advantage of every minute.

Sept. 7 is coming quickly and Fisher should and will be judged a lot more harshly if he’s still playing this way then.
The Kansas City Chiefs have no choice but to stick with Eric Fisher, their struggling left tackle. But coach Andy Reid sounded as if the Chiefs would stand by Fisher even if they had a decent alternative.

Reid gave a vote of confidence to Fisher, who had offseason surgery to repair a balky shoulder and hasn’t played well in either of the two preseason games.

Fisher
“Any time you’re coming off a significant injury, I think you’ve got to continue to battle through and that’s what this preseason has been for him,’’ Reid said. “He’s coming off of shoulder surgery. You saw how he started the game. He started off like gangbusters. As that arm gets tired he has a tendency to not shoot it quite as fast as he would when it’s fresh. I’m not even sure he’s conscious of that.

“You work through it. The more you play and the more you keep working your fundamentals, the more consistent you become and eventually it will be for four quarters.’’

The entire offensive line didn’t play well in Sunday night’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Alex Smith, who played the first half, took several big hits.

The Chiefs lost three regulars from last year’s line. This year’s starters are mostly inexperienced. Left guard Jeff Allen has the most career NFL starts with 27, followed by center Rodney Hudson (19), right tackle Donald Stephenson (14) and Fisher (13). Rookie Zach Fulton, a sixth-round draft pick, is the starting right guard.

This group needs all the preseason playing time it can get. Reid would be wise to give it to them, starting with Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium. It sounded like that's what he plans to do.

“We’re going to test them,’’ Reid said. “We’re going to throw the football. We’re going to run the ball. We’ve got a young offensive line. We’ve got to learn. We’re going to feed them the things they need to get better at. We’re not hiding that part of it. We know they’re going to get better with practice.’’

 

Chiefs have to stick by Eric Fisher

August, 18, 2014
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The Kansas City Chiefs continue to look for encouraging signs from left tackle Eric Fisher, and they continue to be disappointed. Fisher had another difficult game in Sunday night's preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Fisher
Alex Smith took more physical punishment than the Chiefs would like their starting quarterback to absorb, but it wasn't all Fisher's fault. Still, he had a hand in it, and Fisher is now 0-for-2 when it comes to playing well in the preseason.

Fisher's transformation into a solid left tackle evidently will take some time, if it ever happens. That said, the Chiefs have little choice but to work with the No. 1 overall pick from the 2013 draft and hope for the best.

The Chiefs have too much invested in Fisher to give up on him. They did the smart thing last season by letting him play right tackle as a rookie while Branden Albert played out his contract on the left side.

Moving Fisher to the left side was inevitable. The Chiefs might feel better about that move had Fisher earned the promotion with his play as a rookie, but that didn't happen. They couldn't afford Albert, not with big contracts due to players like Jamaal Charles, Smith and Justin Houston.

And even if the Chiefs wanted to replace Fisher, their options are limited. They're having trouble identifying a third tackle on their roster, much less one they're comfortable with in the starting lineup. High-quality tackles aren't available through free agency or trade this time of year. They could have him and right tackle Donald Stephenson switch positions, but things haven't reached that point yet.

The Chiefs need to make Fisher into the player they believed they were getting when they drafted him. They simply are going through some tough growing pains with Fisher, and they have little choice but to suffer through them.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have an extensive list of players they’re particularly eager to evaluate in next Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. I’ll be examining many of those names in upcoming blog posts, but many are young players trying to win a job in the starting lineup or on the regular-season roster.

Fisher
One player on the list who doesn’t fit into either category is Eric Fisher. The first player picked in last year’s draft, the Chiefs are committed to him as their starting left tackle.

Fisher had surgery in January to repair a balky shoulder and sat out the team portion of offseason practice. He has been held out of certain drills at training camp, most notably the one-on-one snaps in the pass-rush, pass-block drills.

That would indicate the Chiefs are still a little skittish about exposing Fisher’s shoulder to the stress that pass-blocking puts on it. The Bengals game would be a good test for Fisher, his first real test since last season.

That’s assuming Fisher plays against Cincinnati. The Chiefs might eventually decide to hold him out.

“As of now, I’m ready to go,’’ Fisher said. “I’m going to do what I’m told.’’

Fisher maintained his shoulder is 100 percent. That well may be, though it still appears to bother him at times. Count the Chiefs among the ones who want to see Fisher get a real test.

“Everything feels real good. Obviously there is going to be some soreness every now and then. It’s just something you fight through. That happens with any injury.’’
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- It was a less-than-glamorous way for the Kansas City Chiefs to break in their new hope at a most important position. Surrounded by a skeleton crew in a minicamp designed mostly for rookies and fringe players, Eric Fisher assumed his new post at left tackle for the first time in a team setting on Tuesday at Missouri Western State University.

The environment didn’t bother Fisher one bit.

[+] EnlargeEric Fisher
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliEric Fisher is set to begin the move to playing left tackle.
“I had the surgeries, so I needed to get out here, get situated before the vets get here,’’ Fisher said. “I’m glad to be here early so I can get a jump on things.”

The Chiefs share the sentiment. This was the plan all along for Fisher starting from the moment they drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick last year. He would play as a rookie at right tackle then shift to protect quarterback Alex Smith's blind side in 2014, after the Chiefs lost left tackle Branden Albert to the Miami Dolphins in free agency.

The plan was delayed for a few months after Fisher had two offseason surgeries, one to repair a balky shoulder and the other for a sports hernia. The surgeries limited Fisher to individual drills during offseason practice.

Despite the setbacks, getting Fisher to this point was the easy part for the Chiefs. Getting him to be the solid left tackle that Albert was last season could prove more difficult. Fisher had a rocky rookie season in large part because he wasn’t strong enough to handle the bigger, more physical defenders he faced.

Because of the shoulder surgery, Fisher’s ability to get into the weight room to remedy the problem was delayed. He insisted on Tuesday he was able to get in the necessary work anyway.

“I never really lost strength,’’ Fisher said. “I’ve been in there working. When you can’t bench, there’s other things you can do. That’s what I was doing.”

Fisher may be right. But it will be an issue for the Chiefs to monitor carefully when full-squad training camp begins on Thursday.
Here we’ll begin a series that looks at five young Kansas City Chiefs players who need to make progress from where they were in 2013. Forget for a moment about the Chiefs getting help from free-agent or draft additions. If these players come through, the Chiefs will be in good shape in 2014.

Fisher
We’ll begin with offensive tackle Eric Fisher. The Chiefs drafted Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick last season and though he started 13 games on the right side, his rookie season was, even in charitable terms, rough. Fisher at times played so poorly he deserved to be benched. He didn’t have the necessary strength in his upper body to handle big and physical opponents, who frequently manhandled Fisher.

Still, the Chiefs gave him a promotion of sorts. After losing left tackle Branden Albert to the Miami Dolphins in free agency, the Chiefs moved Fisher into Albert’s spot, giving him the all-important job of protecting quarterback Alex Smith’s blind side.

How quickly Fisher can play like Albert, a Pro Bowler last season, will help determine the fate of the Chiefs’ season. Little of what Fisher accomplished last year suggests he is ready for the challenge, at least right away.

But it’s still wise to believe Fisher could eventually become equal to the player Albert is now, or even better. He showed last season the tremendous athleticism that led the Chiefs to rate him as the draft’s best player.

Heading into the offseason, it was Fisher’s goal to get bigger and stronger so he could better battle the more physical opponents he will face. The trouble is that he had two offseason surgeries, one to repair a balky shoulder and the other for a sports hernia, that set back the weight he could handle with his upper-body workouts.

Offseason practice recently started and Fisher was only participating in individual drills. The Chiefs have said they believe he will be ready for full participation when they put on the pads and begin training camp in July.

Fisher, who played last season between 295 and 300 pounds, said recently he plans to be 15 to 20 pounds heavier this year. He could easily get there, but being limited in the weight room for much of the offseason won’t make it easier for him.

Fisher also needs to play through some of the nagging injuries that put him out of the lineup last season. He missed regular-season starts once because of the injured shoulder and another time because of a mild concussion.

He then missed the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts because of an injured groin.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Coach Andy Reid answered media questions Thursday for the first time since the Kansas City Chiefs started offseason practice. He offered no insight to the holdouts of linebacker Justin Houston and cornerback Brandon Flowers other than to say Flowers was not asked to stay away from the workouts.

Flowers
"I’ve been around this a long time and I understand the business side," Reid said. "These are voluntary. That’s not a distraction. We just focus on the guys and coach the guys that are here, and these guys are working their tails off.

"Everybody has the dates. They know. Everybody knows the rules."

Attendance for most of the Chiefs’ offseason program, including this week’s practices, is voluntary. The only time during the offseason when attendance is mandatory is the minicamp which runs from June 17 through June 19. Houston and Flowers can be fined if they don’t attend then.

Left tackle Eric Fisher participated only in individual drills at practice this week. He had shoulder surgery at the end of last season and Reid indicated Fisher wouldn’t be a part of team drills until training camp begins.

"That’s the thing he can’t do right now," Reid said, referring to jamming an opponent. "(The doctors) don’t want him doing that."

The timetable with tight end Travis Kelce is less clear. Kelce had a knee ailment and surgery last season and is a mere observer at practice.

"We’ve just got to see," Reid said. "We’ll see how it goes as we hit June and then see how he’s feeling."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some quick observations on the Kansas City Chiefs' first full-squad offseason practice:
  • The Chiefs went with veteran Frank Zombo instead of rookie Dee Ford in place of the absent Justin Houston as one of the starters at outside linebacker. Zombo started five games in place of the injured Houston last season and had two sacks and one interception. Marcus Cooper, the Chiefs' rookie of the year last season, started in place of Brandon Flowers at one of the cornerback spots. Houston and Flowers were missing from practice, which is voluntary. The only period during the offseason program with mandatory participation is the minicamp June 17-19.
  • The other new starters on defense were Allen Bailey (for the departed Tyson Jackson) at end, Joe Mays (for the departed Akeem Jordan) at linebacker and Husain Abdullah (for the departed Kendrick Lewis) at free safety.
  • Left tackle Eric Fisher didn't participate in the team portion of practice and tight end Travis Kelce didn't participate at all. Fisher had offseason surgeries to repair a balky shoulder and for a sports hernia and participated in individual drills. Right tackle Donald Stephenson moved into Fisher's spot with Jeff Linkenbach starting in Stephenson's usual place. Kelce, who missed all of his rookie season because of a knee ailment, is not a starter but the Chiefs are hopeful he can play a lot and be a productive receiver .
  • Sanders Commings is for now at least Abdullah's backup. But he showed free safety skills when he covered a lot of ground to intercept a Tyler Bray pass along the sideline.
I’ve finished my analysis of the Kansas City Chiefs' various position groups and whether I think the player additions made those positions better or worse. I also considered returning players and whether I thought they would significantly improve or regress in making my calls.

I broke the roster into nine position groups and determined the Chiefs would be better at six of them and worse at three. You can find all these breakdowns here.

But does that mean the Chiefs as a whole are better?

[+] EnlargeEric Fisher
Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsWhether Eric Fisher can replace departed tackle Branden Albert is among the questions facing the Chiefs after a busy offseason.
"We’ve improved the Kansas City Chiefs," general manager John Dorsey said shortly after the conclusion of the draft. "We’ve created that competitive depth that we continually talk about.

"We’ll see. Right now we feel pretty good about where we are at this stage. Any time you have a chance to add the quality of players that we added through this draft class, I feel pretty good here."

The Chiefs took heavy losses in free agency. They watched as seven players who were regulars at one point or another last season walked out the door.

That is not the part that concerns me, and it obviously doesn’t concern the Chiefs. They had done a nice job of building depth at some spots, particularly on the offensive line, and in many of the cases they can replace their departed free agents with players they had drafted in recent years. Where they can’t, they filled in adequately by signing players like defensive lineman Vance Walker and linebacker Joe Mays.

Just because they adequately plugged holes doesn’t mean the Chiefs are better. In a couple of areas, the Chiefs can only be hopeful they don’t take a large step backward. One is the offensive line, where they lost three players who were regulars last season. The big loss was left tackle Branden Albert. He will be replaced by Eric Fisher, who will eventually become as good a player as Albert was last season.

But anyone who watched Fisher’s rocky rookie season last year can’t think that day will come soon.

Another position of concern is wide receiver, where the Chiefs had one of the league’s least productive groups of players last season. Between a bounce-back season from Dwayne Bowe, development from A.J. Jenkins and contributions from other young and unproven players, the Chiefs seem confident here. I wonder whether the Chiefs can continue the progress they made in their passing game toward the end of last season without some receiving help.

"It’s not over yet," Dorsey said about the possibility of acquiring another wide receiver without acknowledging the need. "There are still opportunities to acquire the type of player you’re looking at, if in fact you want to go in that direction."

For the Chiefs, free agency was about finding solid role players, but not impact players. Their draft might eventually prove to be a good one, but looks short on players who can help immediately. First-round outside linebacker Dee Ford has a pair of Pro Bowl players ahead of him at his position.

The Chiefs have some intangible things going for them. The biggest is continuity on the coaching staff. They will have the same offensive coordinator for a second straight season for the first time since 2007.

That will count for something. But not enough to help them be a much better team than they were last season.

Chiefs offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Kansas City Chiefs' offseason moves.

Best move: It wasn't a popular move for the Chiefs to allow five of last season's regulars to depart in the opening moments of free agency and another a few days later, but the Chiefs did the right thing in each case. The players are more valuable to their new teams, and Kansas City would have had to overpay to keep them. The Chiefs had also built enough depth to withstand the losses.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/John BazemoreAaron Murray's selection by the Chiefs is surprising, but Andy Reid has been known to develop QBs.
Riskiest move: The Chiefs failed to add a proven wide receiver, a decision they could easily come to regret later. They had one of the NFL's least productive groups of wide receivers last season and then lost slot receiver Dexter McCluster to free agency. They have hopes for improvement from young A.J. Jenkins and acquired CFL veteran Weston Dressler and speedy rookie De'Anthony Thomas, but their needs would have been better served by adding a player with proven production.

Most surprising move: The drafting of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was a reasonable gamble because it happened in the fifth round, but the Chiefs looked to be set at the position without him. They have their starter in Alex Smith, a veteran backup in Chase Daniel and a developmental prospect in Tyler Bray. But Murray appears to have the skills to succeed in the offense of coach Andy Reid, who has shown a nice touch in developing quarterbacks. The addition of Murray sets up an interesting training camp battle at the position.

Progress from young players: It's clear the Chiefs are counting on improvement from a group that includes three of last season's draft picks. Foremost is tackle Eric Fisher, who moves to the left side after a rocky rookie season on the right. Tight end Travis Kelce missed all of last season with a knee ailment after showing impressive receiving skills in the offseason and training camp. Sanders Commings also missed most of his rookie season with an injury but could wind up starting at free safety.
For those with ESPN Insider access, draft analyst Todd McShay has a piece ranking his top 32 prospectsInsider from the past four drafts plus this year. It should be of interest to their fans because the Kansas City Chiefs had the fifth pick in the 2010 draft (and selected strong safety Eric Berry) and the top overall choice last year (when they picked tackle Eric Fisher).

Berry
Fisher
Both Berry and Fisher appear in McShay’s top 32. Berry is the 12th-ranked prospect from the past five drafts, this year’s included, while Fisher is 23rd.

McShay’s comments about Berry at the time have played out since he joined the Chiefs. Berry is a three-time Pro Bowler, missing only after the 2011 season. He missed all but a handful of plays that season because of a torn ACL.

“Very high football IQ . . . Explodes out of backpedal and can eat up cushions in a flash . . . Relentless in pursuit [in run support], shows above-average range and always seems to be around the ball at the end of the play . . . Dangerous open-field runner.’’

The Chiefs passed on some others on McShay’s list in order to draft Berry: Tackle Russell Okung (17 on McShay’s list), cornerback Joe Haden (25), safety Earl Thomas (27) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (28). But it’s difficult to argue with the selection of Berry. He’s been a big playmaker for the Chiefs.

Fisher’s appearance on McShay’s list is a little bit of an upset given the relative weakness of last year’s draft. The Chiefs passed on others on McShay’s list in order to draft Fisher: tackle Luke Joeckel (20), defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (26) and cornerback Dee Milliner (29).

Fisher didn’t play like a prized prospect last season as a rookie. But he showed athletic skills uncommon for a player his size and once he gets stronger it’s reasonable to believe he will eventually become a solid player.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a few young players they need to see dramatic improvement from, and Eric Fisher would be at the top of that list. Fisher had a disappointing rookie season, certainly not what reasonably could be expected from the first pick in the draft, and he recently was installed as the new left tackle, replacing departed Pro Bowler Branden Albert.

So Fisher’s year started off with two surgeries, one to fix a balky left shoulder and the other to repair a sports hernia. Were these temporary setbacks or signs of more disappointment to come?

They don’t have to be devastating. Fisher is back and working in the weight room, though not at full capacity with his upper body because of the shoulder surgery. He shouldn’t miss much if any practice time, and either way Fisher will get enough of that where he should be adequately prepared when the regular season begins.

[+] EnlargeEric Fisher
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliEric Fisher will switch to left tackle after a bumpy rookie season at right tackle for Kansas City.
But this still isn’t what the Chiefs or Fisher needed. He played between 295 and 300 pounds last season, which was too light to give him the anchor he needed against bigger, strong opponents. He also needed to get stronger in his upper body, and he’s missing an opportunity to do make that happen.

Fisher still plans to play somewhere between 310 and 315 pounds in the fall.

"Every pound is going to help," he said.

The plan for extra weight is endorsed by coach Andy Reid.

"You want to make sure he maintains his weight, and we thought at the end of the season, he could afford to add a few pounds," Reid said. "He’s done that and he’s put on another five, which is good weight. I think when he gets full capacity with his upper body, he’ll put on another five or so, and that’s about an average for a lineman. You look at linemen that come in their rookie year onto their second year, they normally add about 10 pounds, on average."

Fisher was injured all season. The shoulder problems began in the preseason. He had trouble at other times with hand and groin problems, and he missed a game because of a concussion.

"I’m really excited to have a complete body this season," Fisher said.

Moving to the left side after a season at right tackle fulfills the vision the Chiefs had for Fisher when they drafted him. It was delayed for a year because the Chiefs had the veteran Albert set on the left side.

"Yeah, I’m really excited," Fisher said. "Down in my heart, I think I’m a left tackle. Playing right tackle last year I think was a great learning opportunity for me. I learned a lot from Branden Albert. What a great guy to learn from.

"I’m ready to take over now. I’m ready to run that left side with (guard) Jeff Allen, and I think we’re going to have a great crew up front."

That won’t occur unless Fisher makes a big leap in the quality of his play. It could happen. Despite his struggles last season, he showed athletic ability uncommon for a man of his size.

But his year isn’t off to a great start in that regard.
To say the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t concerned when three offensive linemen walked out the door in the moments after the free-agent signing period began wouldn’t be accurate. But they certainly didn’t go into a panic mode. This was part of their plan.

The Chiefs have tried to fortify at the five line positions in recent seasons. They drafted center Rodney Hudson in 2011, guard Jeff Allen and tackle Donald Stephenson the next April and tackle Eric Fisher last year. They also signed a developmental prospect, guard Rishaw Johnson, last year.

Those are the probable starters next season.

"We kept a load of offensive linemen on the roster knowing something like this could happen," coach Andy Reid said. "Some of them are young guys but ... they were able to get some experience and they’ll have an opportunity to compete in there."

Because of their work through the draft and free agency in recent years, the Chiefs are better off with regard to their offensive line than a lot of people believe. That's not to say there aren't concerns.

One is a glaring lack of experience. In terms of age, Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry are at 26 the oldest among their 12 offensive linemen. Linkenbach will at least begin practice as a backup, while Henry will compete for a backup spot.

The five probable starters have a total of 74 career NFL starts, led by Allen with 27.

The offseason surgeries for Fisher, recently installed as the starting left tackle, don't help. The Chiefs aren't concerned that Fisher will miss much if any in terms of practice time for the season, but he needed to get stronger in his upper body during the offseason. So shoulder and sports hernia surgeries have limited him in that effort.

The depth took a big hit by losing three linemen. The only proven backup is Linkenbach, who started 33 games in four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Chiefs this year as a free agent. The rest of their linemen are developmental prospects.

But the Chiefs have six draft picks to use this year and, given their strategy of recent years, it makes sense they would bring in at least one more lineman.

As far as the starting right guard spot, the Chiefs seem comfortable with Johnson. The Chiefs got a good look at him as a starter in the final regular-season game last year in San Diego. The Chiefs rested many of their starters that day against the Chargers, who needed to win to get into the playoffs.

"We'll open it up and let them go," Reid said. "We signed a kid (Jeff Linkenbach) and he’ll get in the mix and compete there."
The Kansas City Chiefs drafted last year for the first time with John Dorsey as their general manager and Andy Reid as their head coach. This will be a much different draft for the Chiefs, who had four of the top 99 picks last year. They have just one of the top 86 this year.

But a look back can provide some idea of what the Chiefs can expect from this year’s draft.

 

The season behind: The Chiefs didn’t get much from this group when they were rookies. In fact, their rookie of the year was a seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, cornerback Marcus Cooper. Fisher started 13 games at right tackle but his season wasn’t what could reasonably be expected from the first overall pick in the draft. His play was uneven at best, particularly earlier in the season. He struggled as a pass-blocker against stronger opponents and their power moves. He proved unreliable, missing three regular-season starts plus the playoff game with injuries ranging from shoulder to concussion to groin. The Chiefs were counting on productive playing time from Kelce and Commings before injuries cost them all of their rookie seasons. Kelce in the preseason developed a knee ailment that eventually required surgery. Commings broke his collarbone during the first practice of training camp. The Chiefs were hopeful Johnson could be a starter at inside linebacker, but a preseason injury set him back and he never made a serious challenge. Kush and Catapano were drafted as developmental players and that’s the role both settled into, though injuries forced the Chiefs to use Catapano at times and he showed some pass-rush ability. Wilson was a huge disappointment, even as a sixth-round pick. He was cut during the preseason and the Chiefs didn’t think enough of him to bring him back to their practice squad.

The seasons ahead: Fisher may be the only full-time player from this group again in 2014, but it’s reasonable to believe the Chiefs could still get some production from the others -- Wilson being the exception. The Chiefs are confident that despite his rocky debut season, Fisher will eventually become the player they envisioned when they drafted him. He will move over to left tackle after playing on the right side and should benefit greatly from an offseason in the Chiefs’ weight program. Commings could wind up as the starter at free safety if the Chiefs don’t draft a player to fill that position. Otherwise, the Chiefs will look for ways to get him on the field. He was going to challenge for playing time in their nickel defense last year before his injury. The Chiefs are eager to get Kelce involved in their passing game. He was very involved before his injury. The Chiefs lined him up in a variety of spots to best use his ability to get down the field and beat coverage to make catches. Davis became more involved as last season went on and should get more playing time this year, assuming the leg he broke in the playoff game allows him to and his fumbling habit doesn’t reappear. Eventually, Davis could be the replacement for Jamaal Charles. At 227 pounds, he’s bigger and more powerful than Charles and he’s fast for a player his size. He probably won’t ever give the Chiefs what Charles delivered as a pass receiver last season. It speaks to what the Chiefs think of Johnson that one of their first moves in free agency was to sign veteran Joe Mays to be a starter at inside linebacker. Johnson may be a special-teamer for whatever remains of his Chiefs career. Catapano may never develop into a full-time player but his ability as a pass-rusher gives him a shot at a lesser role. Similarly, Kush may continue to be a backup, but watch what the Chiefs do with starting center Rodney Hudson, who is scheduled to become a free agent next year. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Chiefs, Kush could inherit the spot if he develops as the Chiefs hope.

Best pick: As expected for the first overall pick, Fisher should become this draft’s best player. Despite his struggles last season, he frequently showed the athletic ability a great offensive tackle needs. But Kelce should eventually become the best pick from a value standpoint. He could become the Chiefs’ best pass receiver at tight end since the traded Tony Gonzalez.

Worst pick: Since Wilson couldn’t hang around until the end of his rookie preseason, he has to qualify, for now. The others still have a chance to be productive players. But the situation doesn’t look good for Johnson, either. As an inside linebacker, he would be a part-time player, coming out of the game on passing downs. But the Chiefs evidently believe he’s not advanced enough to handle it yet.

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