In 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs were a breakout team, led by a strong defense and a young, talented offense. They took the AFC West with a 10-6 record, edging out the 9-7 San Diego Chargers, soundly beating the 8-8 Oakland Raiders and not even noticing the 4-12 Denver Broncos. Some fans and experts alike considered this a potentially "fluke" season, but the Chiefs did a lot to dispel those notions with a supremely strong showing at the 2011 NFL Draft.
We wrote about how the Raiders had to sit and watch the rest of the AFC West get better without a first round pick, and gave none of the three teams anything lower than a 'B-' in our grades. After casting a glance over the rest of the teams in the NFL and the hauls they brought home from the draft, the Chiefs appear to have had more than just the strongest draft within the confines of the west, they potentially have had the best draft in the entire league.
Not only did they get impressive defensive value with players like Justin Houston in round three, Jerrell Powe all the way down in round six and a potential star in the versatile Allen Bailey with their other third round pick, they also made quietly strong picks on the offensive side of the ball early on. Jonathan Baldwin in the first round is right in-line with his value and is an explosive playmaker, who will line up next to or across from another explosive playmaker in Dwayne Bowe. Baldwin's biggest knock was his inability to be consistent, but as the number two option from the get-go, he doesn't have to be and can work on those things.
To supplement that pick, they picked up Rodney Hudson in the second round for their offensive line to give Matt Cassel more time to get the ball to his new first-round receiver and, more importantly, create holes for Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. Stanzi in round five shows a very strong propensity to place a premium on backups, as Stanzi is your prototypical developmental quarterback who could someday be a franchise quarterback, considering Cassel's on-again, off-again play. On top of that, Jalil Brown in the fourth round is even more value for their ever-improving secondary and should contribute immediately.
The Chiefs are a young team that just couldn't keep up at times in 2010. Now they've added a lot of players who can contribute immediately, though there is some heavy bust factor there, and the only caveat to the Chiefs draft: this being a very young team now infused with no less than three picks including players with considerable character concerns. At face value, this is a fantastically strong draft from the Chiefs that should make them favorites, or at least co-favorites to win the AFC West in 2011, but it definitely could blow up in their face if given the chance to. They won't have the benefit of potentially catching any teams by surprise this year. Not only should the Raiders, Broncos and Chargers be on standby - the rest of the league should take note as well.