NFL Nation: Dwayne Bowe

Camp preview: Kansas City Chiefs

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation reporter Adam Teicher examines the three biggest issues facing the Kansas City Chiefs heading into training camp.

Where is Houston? Having outperformed the contract he signed with the Chiefs as a third-round draft pick in 2011, outside linebacker Justin Houston was absent for all the offseason practices, including the mandatory minicamp. Since Houston’s only leverage for getting a contract extension this year is to stay away from camp until he gets it, it's unlikely he will show without a new deal. That would be a tough blow for the Chiefs. Houston is their top proven pass-rusher and arguably their best all-around defensive player. The pass rush, which was on a record pace for sacks over the first half of last season, sagged measurably after a dislocated elbow caused him to miss the final five regular-season games. The Chiefs would not be left without quality edge pass-rushers. Veteran Tamba Hali, another Pro Bowler, is on the other side, and the Chiefs drafted Auburn’s Dee Ford in the first round. Ford looked promising as a pass-rusher during offseason practice, but it’s a bit much to expect him to immediately be as versatile as Houston. Ford was a defensive end in college and has much to learn before he is on Houston’s level.

Who is at corner? The Chiefs released Brandon Flowers last month, leaving them perilously thin at cornerback. With the exception of 5-foot-9 nickelback Chris Owens, all their remaining cornerbacks are big and capable of getting physical with opposing receivers, as the Chiefs prefer. But the quality is a concern. Veteran Sean Smith steps in as the top cornerback, and he held his own as a starter last season. Marcus Cooper will at least begin camp as the other starter. As a rookie, he played well for the first half of last season as the third cornerback, but his play tailed off badly in the second half, to the point that the Chiefs benched him. Cooper has the physical tools to be a decent starter, but he showed over the final few games of last season that he has a lot to learn. The Chiefs drafted Phillip Gaines of Rice in the third round this year, but during offseason practice it didn’t look like he was ready to contribute. Journeyman Ron Parker played well in his one start last season. But he got a lot of playing time during the offseason and was often exposed.

A rebound for Bowe? In September, Dwayne Bowe turns 30, an ominous age for a wide receiver because that is when many begin to lose their skills. That process might already have started for Bowe, who had the worst full statistical season of his career in 2013. Still, Bowe represents the Chiefs’ most realistic hope for improvement at what was largely an unproductive position last season. The Chiefs added former Canadian League star Weston Dressler and drafted speedy De'Anthony Thomas in the fourth round, but they are slot receivers and are merely trying to replace the production lost with the free-agent departure of Dexter McCluster. Otherwise, the Chiefs will go with the same uninspiring cast of receivers as last season, meaning Bowe needs to get back to what he was earlier in his career. That is not an unreasonable expectation. Bowe was never particularly fast, so he doesn’t have a lot of speed to lose. The Chiefs need to do a better job of playing to his strengths, the main one being his ability to find yards after the catch. The Chiefs should get back to the bubble screens that were so productive for Bowe earlier in his career.
IRVING, Texas -- Jimmy Graham was unable to declare himself a wide receiver in an arbitration case, but the New Orleans Saints tight end did fairly well with his reported four-year, $40 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed.

As the Dallas Cowboys and Dez Bryant look for ways to come to an agreement on a long-term deal so they can avoid any franchise-tag hassle next offseason, can Graham’s deal be something of a barometer for Bryant?

Graham argued he was a receiver because he lined up mostly off the line. It was an argument that was eventually denied by an arbiter, but there is some truth to what he was saying. Graham is not a tight end in the way Jason Witten is a tight end. But that is his position. Bryant will never be asked to put his hand on the ground to block somebody the way Graham is asked to do at least part of the time for the Saints.

But I digress. Let’s just look at the statistical comparisons of Bryant and Graham. Both players were selected in the 2010 draft. Bryant was a first-round pick, so he has an extra year on his rookie deal. Graham was a third-round pick.

In the past three seasons their numbers are fairly similar.

Bryant: 248 catches, 3,543 yards, 34 touchdowns.
Graham: 270 catches, 3,507 yards, 36 touchdowns.

Any discussions between the Cowboys and Bryant’s agent, Eugene Parker, have been kept under wraps for the most part. Most of the figures thrown around have been by the media. There are seven wide receivers with an average annual value of at least $10 million: Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson.

Marshall, Johnson, Fitzgerald, Wallace, Bowe and Jackson have at least $20 million in guaranteed money in their deals, as does Andre Johnson, who is threatening a holdout from the Houston Texans' training camp.

Graham’s contract puts him in line with receivers if not with the top-paid guys like Johnson ($16.2 million), Fitzgerald ($16.1 million). Harvin ($12.9 million) and Wallace ($12 million) who cashed in during free agency. Bowe averages $11.2 million. The Washington Redskins signed DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $24 million deal that included $16 million guaranteed in the offseason.

So where does Bryant fit in? Should he get Graham’s $10 million average or play out the season and possibly get tagged (that was $12.3 million in 2014)?

There is some middle ground in which both sides can compromise, but Graham's deal could help define just where that ground is, even if he is a tight end (wink, wink).
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have held preliminary discussions about a new contract for wide receiver Dez Bryant. The team does a good job of finalizing new contracts prior to the start of the season with several of their players.

But over the past two seasons, the Cowboys franchised defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Spencer after there was a failure to reach a long-term deal.

The Cowboys might have a similar situation with Bryant and could franchise him. The franchise tag for wide receivers in 2014 was $12.3 million.

"We have to see," Bryant said Monday when asked about getting franchised. "I know you’re going to hate this answer, but me and my agent (Eugene Parker) have to sit down and talk about that kind of stuff, and the rest of it should really take care of itself."

Bryant isn't thinking about his contract during the organized team activities, which entered the second week on Monday. Bryant's agent has a solid relationship with Cowboys' officials regarding new contracts for players.

Team officials don't seemed worried about getting a deal done.

"The thing about it is when it comes to football, I let that kind of stuff take care of itself," Bryant said. "I love this game and I always have. As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, that stuff will handle itself."

What to pay Bryant is an interesting topic. Calvin Johnson leads wide receivers with an average salary of $16.2 million, followed by Larry Fitzgerald's $16.1 million. Percy Harvin ($12.9 million), Mike Wallace ($12 million) and Dwayne Bowe ($11.2 million) are other top receivers with huge average salaries.

"Truthfully, to be honest, I’m not just talking, I really do let that stuff take care of itself, because I care about this game," Bryant said. "I’m not going to be out here, sitting out and doing all that crazy stuff. I’m just going to play football. If it’s deserved, it will come.

"You know, if that was to happen (a deal done before the season), that would be great. I’m still going to go out there and perform at a high level, because that’s how I work. I’m going to let it take care of itself."

WR has to be priority for Chiefs

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
You might like the Kansas City Chiefs to improve at any number of positions before starting the 2014 season and chances are they might agree with you at least in some of those areas. But the fact is they have enough at this point to line up, play a game and at least be competitive with most NFL teams.

You might think the Chiefs have holes in their starting lineup at right guard and free safety, but I don’t think the Chiefs agree with you there. Their actions in free agency would suggest they don’t. At right guard, they watched without a trace of panic as the two players who shared the starting spot last season walked out the door in free agency, Jon Asamoah to the Atlanta Falcons and Geoff Schwartz to the New York Giants. They did sign Jeff Linkenbach from the Indianapolis Colts and he could wind up claiming that vacant starting spot, though his versatility suggests they prefer him as a backup at both tackle and guard. The Chiefs have three developmental prospects in the middle of the offensive line in Eric Kush, Rishaw Johnson and Rokevious Watkins. At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them was a starter next season.

The Chiefs don’t appear interested in re-signing Kendrick Lewis, their starting free safety. But neither have they appeared interested in replacing him through free agency. They could draft a free safety, but the two best prospects will likely be off the board by the time the Chiefs make their first pick. They did re-sign reserve Husain Abdullah, but for backup money. All signs there point to Sanders Commings, a rookie last season, inheriting that job. The Chiefs were impressed with Commings in offseason practice last year and he was going to challenge for playing time but broke his collarbone in the first practice at training camp. That effectively ruined his rookie season but he’s back and will find a role somewhere in their defensive backfield.

Then there’s wide receiver, which is a little bit of a different story. The Chiefs were last in the NFL last season in receptions, yards and first downs from their wide receivers, and that was before they lost Dexter McCluster to the Tennessee Titans as a free agent. It’s unfair and inaccurate to blame this problem on quarterback Alex Smith. The fact is, receivers weren’t getting open enough down the field and dropped too many passes.

The Chiefs tried to sign free agent Emmanuel Sanders of the Pittsburgh Steelers and thought they had an agreement with him on a contract. They believe Sanders’ agent then shopped the offer to other teams and he struck a better deal instead with the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs haven’t and most likely won’t say anything publicly on this matter but they’re not happy about things because the loss of Sanders stings. He would have been the solution to many of their receiving problems and they know it.

Instead, this is what they’re left with at wide receiver: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway and Weston Dressler, plus some developmental prospects. You like that mix? They’re good enough for the Chiefs to line up with and not get embarrassed. But probably not much better than that.

In the best-case scenario, Bowe bounces back after a down season, Jenkins plays like the first-round draft pick he once was and Dressler makes the transition from the CFL to the NFL look simple.

The odds are against any of those things happening, much less all three of them. Minus all three things happening, the Chiefs need help at wide receiver in a big way. That's why their priority the rest of the offseason has to be on upgrading their roster of wide receivers.
It was a hectic week for the Kansas City Chiefs this week as the free-agent signing period began. They lost five players who were regulars at some point last year (wide receiver Dexter McCluster, defensive end Tyson Jackson and offensive linemen Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz) but signed three players from other teams (linebacker Joe Mays, defensive lineman Vance Walker and offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach) and re-signed two of their own free agents, reserve linebacker Frank Zombo and backup safety Husain Abdullah.

Now, in this week's Twitter mailbag, we're looking ahead, in some cases toward 2015.
Kansas City Chiefs fans have been less than thrilled with the first few days of free agency. They've watched their team lose five players who were regulars at some point last season while they've added Joe Mays, an inside linebacker who will probably play only on running downs, and Jeff Linkenbach, an offensive lineman who may be just a backup.

But the NFL Network reports the Chiefs will visit with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. If the Chiefs could get Sanders under contract, that should be a signing for their fans to be excited about.

If he came to Kansas City, Sanders could wind up being the slot receiver who replaces Dexter McCluster. Sanders caught 67 passes and scored six touchdowns for the Steelers last season and since he turns 27 next week, he should be headed into the best seasons of his career.

Wide receiver is the position of biggest need for the Chiefs. Their No. 1 receiver, Dwayne Bowe, had the least productive full season of his career last year. The Chiefs were last in 2013 in wide receiver receptions, yards and first downs and were near the bottom in touchdowns. That was with McCluster in their lineup.

They were also last in targets, which suggests they weren't getting open. Alex Smith's history is to throw the checkdowns and shorter and safer patterns, so that's part of the issue. But Smith hasn't made a habit of neglecting open receivers down the field, either.

With Sanders, Bowe, A.J. Jenkins, Donnie Avery and perhaps a first-round draft pick (the more I think about it, the better LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. would look in a Chiefs uniform), the receiving positions would be improved. Far from best-in-the-league improved, but good enough to pose a threat to opposing defenses.

Let's put it this way: That group should be good enough to get the Chiefs out of last place in wide receiver production.

Free-agency primer: Chiefs

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: T Branden Albert, G Jon Asamoah, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Akeem Jordan, FS Kendrick Lewis, WR/PR Dexter McCluster, G Geoff Schwartz

Where they stand: The Chiefs need help at wide receiver but may prefer to do their shopping at this position through the draft after having made a sizable financial commitment to Dwayne Bowe last year. The Chiefs have the depth at tackle to withstand the likely loss of Albert, but they'll need to do some shopping if Asamoah and Schwartz, who split time as the starter at right guard last season, depart. On defense, the Chiefs could use another big body for their defensive line, particularly if Jackson leaves as a free agent. A replacement who can be an upgrade over Lewis is another priority. Sanders Commings, a rookie last season, could potentially fill that spot. Whether the Chiefs actively pursue a veteran there could depend on how they feel about Commings' ability to handle the position.

What to expect: The Chiefs should have about $9.6 million in salary-cap space, which is one of the lowest totals in the league and probably won't allow them to win many bidding wars. Even if the Chiefs had the cap room and were so inclined, this isn't a great crop of free-agent wide receivers. Seattle's Golden Tate might make sense for the Chiefs, but only if the price doesn't get out of hand. The Chiefs could look to division rival Denver for guard Zane Beadles if they need a starter to replace Asamoah and Schwartz. Seattle's Red Bryant could be a fit at defensive end if the Chiefs don't re-sign Jackson. Buffalo's Jairus Byrd is exactly what Kansas City is looking for at free safety, but he will likely be out of its price range. If the Chiefs go safety shopping, they might go for a lower-priced option, like Miami's Chris Clemons.

Chiefs mail: Maclin in K.C.?

February, 8, 2014
Feb 8
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Lots of good Kansas City Chiefs questions this week. Let's get to them.
Wide receiver is the biggest position of need for the Kansas City Chiefs, so both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are thinking clearly in their latest mock drafts. For those with ESPN Insider access, Kiper has the Chiefs taking one receiver, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, with their first-round pick, which is 23rd overall.

McShay gives a different wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. of Louisiana State, to the Chiefs in the first round.

Either player makes sense for the Chiefs. Both players entered the draft as juniors so they may need more time to develop. The Chiefs would need immediate help from either player, but not necessarily as a starter. The Chiefs have veterans in Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins and Weston Dressler, so they wouldn’t have to ask a rookie to carry the load.

But eventually the Chiefs would need him to grow into the No. 1 role, which has been occupied by Bowe for several years. Bowe had a down season, a sign that perhaps he’s started the inevitable downhill slide. Even if not, he will turn 30 in September so the Chiefs have to think about finding his eventual replacement.

Benjamin at 6-4 and 232 is bigger than Beckham Jr. at 6-0 and 193 but Beckham has kick return ability. Otherwise there is little to choose from. Both are fast and run well after the catch.

So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either Benjamin or Beckham Jr. wind up with the Chiefs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Earlier I posted on the team grade given to the Kansas City Chiefs by Pro Football Focus and how the Chiefs made the second biggest leap from 2012 to 2013 behind only the Carolina Panthers.

The Chiefs' big jump was fueled by improved performances from several players. On offense, the grade PFF gave to running back Jamaal Charles went up dramatically from one season to the next. PFF's grade for quarterback Alex Smith in 2013 was vastly improved to that of his 2012 predecessors, Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel.

On defense, the grades for defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and Allen Bailey, linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, and safety Eric Berry were all significantly up from 2012.

A few players had their grades drop. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Branden Albert were among them, but neither player had a huge drop.

One player did have a huge drop; cornerback Brandon Flowers. He will participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Hawaii, more of an honor for what he did in previous seasons than how he played in 2013.

Flowers had some dismal games in 2013, none worse than the torching he received against Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys early in the season, and then by the San Diego Chargers halfway through. In fairness to Flowers, he missed a couple of games early in the season because of a sore knee, and it might not have been right the rest of the way.

Still, it's a fact that Flowers didn't play very well, and it's to the point it's natural to wonder about his future with the Chiefs. He's a 5-foot-9, 187-pound player on a team that now prefers bigger cornerbacks. It's more than a little telling that the Chiefs used Flowers to cover the slot receiver in their nickel defense as the season went on.

Flowers has a big contract (he counts $10.5 million against the Chiefs' 2014 salary cap) and he might not be the best fit for a team that requires it's cornerbacks to play so much one-on-one coverage.

It might be a mistake for the Chiefs to give up on Flowers, who turns 28 next month. Flowers has played well in seasons past, and though he's a little guy, but doesn't usually play like one. He's not afraid to stick his nose into the running game.

But in a division with big receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Keenan Allen, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, it's a fair question: Is Flowers right for the Chiefs?

It will be interesting to see in the coming months what general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid think.

Bowe more complex than he sounds

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dwayne Bowe's interview on Tuesday with Kansas City radio station 810 WHB was interesting on a number of fronts. Before I get to what Bowe said, I wanted to offer some observations about the Kansas City Chiefs' leading wide receiver.

From what I've observed of Bowe during his time with the Chiefs and from talking with several people close to Bowe, he might be the most misunderstood player the Chiefs have ever had. He might have come across publicly over the years as a boastful diva but the truth is that Bowe is probably closer to the opposite.

Between his public comments touting his abilities and the fact Bowe points to the name on the back of uniform at every chance he gets, it's easy to get the idea Bowe is in love with himself. Remember the days of the D. Bowe Show?

Turns out all that stuff was indeed just that, a show. People who know Bowe well describe him as someone with low self-confidence who needed to inflate himself publicly to get ready to play and succeed in a game.

Bowe has, to my knowledge, never publicly complained about not getting the ball enough. That alone is enough to disqualify him as a diva. I had a long talk with quarterback Matt Cassel in his final days with the Chiefs and Bowe was among the subjects of the conversation.

Cassel, knowing Bowe would shortly become a former teammate, still spoke of Bowe in glowing terms. He said Bowe practiced as hard as any receiver he'd ever played with and never once complained to him about how getting the ball.

Last year, with his contract winding down and his time with the Chiefs looking like it might be near the end, rumors were floating that Bowe wanted out of Kansas City. At the time, I was working for the Kansas City Star and Bowe sought me out to tell his side of the story and say he was hurt by the rumors and would prefer to stay with the Chiefs and finish his career with them.

Cynics immediately suggested Bowe was merely engaging in some public contract negotiations by trying to make it appear he was still interested in returning to the Chiefs. Time has proven that Bowe was being sincere, something I strongly suspected at the time because of the look in his eye and the tone of his voice.

Mainly of his own doing, I don't think Bowe gets treated fairly in Kansas City. He certainly didn't help his cause with the interview on Tuesday.

In it, Bowe suggested that:
  • He put three of his teammates in the Pro Bowl with his great play in 2013.
  • He was being profiled by police in Riverside, Mo., in his November arrest for marijuana possession.
  • The media in the hick town of Kansas City was out to get him.
  • Next season he will be as fast and quick as Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
  • The passing game would flourish next season if the Chiefs find another great receiver to play along with him, a not-so-subtle dig at Donnie Avery and his other fellow Kansas City wide outs.

As far as the profiling and what will eventually become of his marijuana possession case, I'll hold off judgment on that one. I don't know what it's like to be Bowe and until I do I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

On everything else, that's just Bowe being Bowe, or more correctly Bowe being the guy he thinks he needs to be.

Bowe speaks, and says plenty

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe did an interview on Kansas City radio station WHB 810 Tuesday, and the Kansas City Chiefs' leading wide receiver had much to say. Here are highlights from the interview. I'll post thoughts on Bowe later. For now, this is a lot to digest.

Bowe on how he felt about the 2013 season: "We had a great record. We were in the playoffs. Anytime you can take your team to the playoffs, I figure that was a great year no matter what the stats [are]. I played all-around great football, blocking and receiving and getting guys into position to be where they [are] today. We've got three offensive guys going to the Pro Bowl. Me helping my team get to that stature is what I call a great year no matter what my stats [are] because I know what kind of player I am and what I can do. It was the first year [of the offensive system]. The coaches were seeing what guys can do. Next year it will be even better stats-wise for me. But when you get to this point in your life, you just want to win."

On what changed for him in 2013 after he signed his five-year, $56 million contract: "Everybody's aiming for you and waiting on you to get into trouble. People try to persuade you to do things to get you [in trouble]. That's the only bad thing once you sign. The world wants you to fail. That's the hard part about it. When you sign that [contract] ... you've got to live right. That's the hard part. You're trying to live right and the police [are] after you, everybody wants a piece of Dwayne Bowe and I had to learn that the hard way. That's how it is."

On his arrest in November for possession of marijuana: "The people close around me and my team and the organization know I had nothing to do with that. I was being profiled. It will all come to light in February. It wasn't a distraction because my teammates know and my family knows. I was being watched and being followed.

"Whoever knows Dwayne knows the truth about it and knows what kind of guy I am. I just can't wait until it's all over so the world will know instead of [just] the people that are close to me what really happened."

On whether the police are really after him: "It's not just them. It's everybody.

"When you're in a town where there's not a whole lot going on, bad media is good media. You've just got to stay calm and stay collected like I [am] now and just move in silence."

On the sprained foot he received during the playoff loss and whether it affected his ability to catch the fourth-down pass, Kansas City's last offensive play of the game: "It had a little crack in it since the third quarter. I really wasn't even supposed to be in the whole fourth quarter. I [toughed] it out and played just because in the last game, you have to take [everything seriously]. I can barely walk right now. I've got my [foot] in a boot right now, as we speak. As I tried to make that play, I tried to get both feet in. If I had got them in, I know I would have probably broke my right foot."

On what he needs to improve on next season: "I want to work on my endurance so I can play the whole game. I was really, really tired that last game.

"I want to be a little lighter than 212. I probably want to play at 208 and try to be as quick as possible because that's the kind of receivers that Andy [Reid] had when he was at Philly. I'll try to be [more] explosive and faster than I was this season. I'm going to become quicker and faster and so I can be like DeSean Jackson and those speedy quick guys."

On whether quarterback Alex Smith deserves a new contract: "He definitely deserves a new contract. He's a leader, a game manager, a game changer. The quarterbacks I had in the past definitely don't amount to what he did in this one single year.

"We've got me ... and [if] we get another good receiver, you never know how far he can take this team. He's a phenomenal guy, he's a great teammate, he's a good brother of mine and I definitely thinks he deserves it."
PHILADELPHIA -- The good news for Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly is he doesn’t have to spend the next couple months traveling to high school kids’ homes and recruiting them.

The bad news?

"It’s a different league," Kelly said. "This isn't recruiting where you can go out and offer and try to get them to come. There's a selection in the draft process and we're not going to pick until the 22nd [spot in the first round]. There's 21 other guys that we may covet, but we don't have an opportunity to get them."

If a team drafted 22d every year and did well, it could be awfully good. Based on the last 10 years, drafting only players taken between No. 22 and No. 32 (the end of the first round), a team could have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, wide receivers Dez Bryant and Santonio Holmes, running backs Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson, linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, safety Brandon Meriweather and defensive linemen Cameron Jordan and Sharrif Floyd.

You could do worse. Plenty of teams did do worse. Cleveland took two quarterbacks, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden, at No. 22.

Later we’ll look at some possible players the Eagles could consider at No. 22 in this year’s draft. For now, here’s a quick look at the 22nd pick in each of the past 10 NFL drafts, along with a few players that were on the board at the time (I didn’t go beyond the end of the first round out of fairness; just looking at first-round graded players):

2013: Cornerback Desmond Trufant from Washington, selected by Atlanta.

On the board: Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, WR/Returner Cordarrelle Patterson, defensive end Datone Jones.

2012: Quarterback Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State, selected by Cleveland.

On the board: Linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Nick Perry, running back Doug Martin.

2011: Offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo from Boston College, selected by Indianapolis.

On the board: Offensive lineman Danny Watkins, defensive end Cameron Jordan, running back Mark Ingram.

2010: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas from Georgia Tech, selected by Denver.

On the board: Wide receiver Dez Bryant, quarterback Tim Tebow, cornerback Devin McCourty.

2009: Wide receiver Percy Harvin from Florida, selected by Minnesota.

On the board: Offensive tackle Michael Oher, cornerback Vontae Davis, linebacker Clay Matthews.

2008: RB Felix Jones from Arkansas, selected by Dallas.

On the board: Running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson, cornerback Mike Jenkins.

2007: Quarterback Brady Quinn from Notre Dame, selected by Cleveland.

On the board: Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, safety Brandon Meriweather, linebackers Jon Beason and Anthony Spencer, offensive tackle Joe Staley.

2006: Linebacker Manny Lawson from N.C. State, selected by San Francisco.

On the board: Offensive lineman Davin Joseph, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, running back DeAngelo Williams, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka.

2005: Wide receiver Mark Clayton from Oklahoma, selected by Baltimore.

On the board: Cornerback Fabian Washington, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Roddy White.

2004: Quarterback J.P. Losman from Tulane, selected by Buffalo.

On the board: Defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, running back Steven Jackson, defensive end Jason Babin.

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 10
Preseason Power Ranking: 19

Biggest surprise: The Chiefs plucked rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, off waivers to start the regular season. Cooper played better than the Chiefs had a right to expect for a long stretch of the season as the third cornerback. He had a rough stretch late in the season before bouncing back at the end. At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Cooper has the size to match up with the league's bigger receivers. Cooper projects as nothing less than the Chiefs' third cornerback next season and could eventually become a starter.

Biggest disappointment: Offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the first overall pick in the draft last year but rarely played like it. The Chiefs used Fisher on the right side, and he initially had trouble making the transition. He also had trouble avoiding nagging injuries, which caused him to miss four games, including the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Fisher should eventually develop into the kind of player the Chiefs envisioned. He showed great athletic skills that will help him reach his potential. Fisher was usually unable to anchor against a strong pass rush and that's where many of his problems occurred. A year in Kansas City's strength program will benefit Fisher greatly.

Biggest need: The Chiefs need a fast wide receiver to energize their passing game. They gambled by giving Dwayne Bowe a lucrative long-term contract last offseason, but Bowe didn't play like a No. 1 wide receiver until the playoff loss to the Colts. Bowe will turn 30 next season, so if nothing else, it's time for the Chiefs to plan for someone else to step into that top receiver's role. The Chiefs have a couple of fast wide receivers in Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins. While Avery delivered some big plays, he dropped too many passes and disappeared too many times. Jenkins hasn't been able to establish himself as a consistent threat.

Team MVP: The Chiefs have at least a couple of defensive candidates but the better choice is running back Jamaal Charles. He supplied much of Kansas City's offensive production, particularly early in the season when the offense around him frequently sputtered. Charles led the league in touchdowns and expanded his game to become a much more dangerous pass-catcher. Coach Andy Reid and his offensive staff did a much better job of getting Charles matched up against linebackers in the open field, and he rewarded them with a number of big plays. If the Chiefs had not lost five of their final seven regular-season games, Charles would have been a strong candidate for league MVP.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The frustration was there for the Indianapolis Colts' defense. So were some ‘R-rated’ words after a brutal defensive performance for more than a half.

The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have running back Jamaal Charles (concussion) but quarterback Alex Smith roasted the Colts' secondary by coming up with big plays with his arm. They converted seven of their first nine third-down attempts.

“I’m not going to say there wasn’t any frustration because there was,” Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said. “No finger pointing, we just have to play ball. That’s why you play the game, you play until the end.”

The Colts needed something to happen to show that their defense had some kind of life in them.

It started with Mathis doing what he does best -- getting a strip-sack of Smith -- in the third quarter. The Colts scored five plays later.

After quarterback Andrew Luck completed the 28-point comeback by throwing a 64-yard touchdown to receiver T.Y. Hilton, Mathis barreled in and hit Smith. Smith tried to throw the ball away, but he was called for intentional grounding because he was still in the tackle box.

Then, with the game on the line, the Colts sealed the game when cornerback Josh Gordy, playing in place of the injured Greg Toler, defended Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe perfectly along the sideline on fourth-and-11. Bowe caught the pass, but he couldn’t get both feet inbounds.

“All great defenses want to be out there on that last drive,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “Be out there on the last drive and be able to close out teams. That’s what we were able to do.”

Those three key plays helped ease the fact that the defense gave up 44 points, 513 yards and 30 first downs to Kansas City. All three were season highs allowed by the Colts.

“We just decided we didn’t want our season to end today,” Mathis said. “Knowing what type of team we have and just getting the job done.”