Developmental Stars For ’11 … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley hammered away at the theme all through the 2010 season. One of the biggest keys in the Chiefs improvement from the previous season was the development of players who were already on site. He frequently referenced players in their third, fourth and fifth seasons.

Ultimately, three players really took a step forward – RB Jamaal Charles, ILB Derrick Johnson and CB Brandon Carr.

Charles and Carr were in the third seasons, while Johnson was in his sixth season. D.J. may have been out of the group that Haley was speaking about, but he qualified because after five previous seasons, Johnson made huge strides in production and consistency.

It’s never too early to look ahead to the 2011 season. Just who might be the players already wearing red and gold that may make similar types of improvement as Charles-Carr-Johnson?

We’ve picked three and those choices are based on several different reasons, including what they’ve shown so far and where the team really needs to improve in the 2011 season. They are OLB Andy Studebaker (in his fourth season), WR Verran Tucker (a second-year player) and DE Tyson Jackson (going into his third season.)

Here’s a look at those three and why they have a chance to become major contributors in 2011.


The fact that the team got Studebaker signed to a contract extension early in the 2010 season tells us a little bit about what they think of this Division III outside linebacker within the organization.

Strangely, it did not lead to a big improvement in playing time for Studebaker. He eventually found a spot in the sub defenses with the nickel and the dime defensive packages. But he played very little on first down or in the base defense as veteran OLB Mike Vrabel continued in his role as the starter.

That does not figure to be the case in the ’11 season. Whether or not Vrabel returns for a 15th NFL season, it’s time for Studebaker to get on the field with the base defense and he needs to stay there. There’s no question what Vrabel brings to the team with his leadership and his knowledge, but there was evidence during the ’10 season that Vrabel had more trouble getting things done physically than even in ’09. Eventually, that’s what led to Vrabel leaving the field on the sub defenses where he was replaced by Studebaker.

Studebaker brings an explosion off the edge on the pass rush that is a great complement to Tamba Hali on the other side. In limited play over 38 games in 2008-10, Studebaker has just 2.5 sacks. What he needs now are opportunities.

Physically, there’s no question about what Studebaker brings to the team. He’s big, fast, strong and powerful. There are few players that put in more work in the weight room and conditioning than what he gets done every year. With his small college background, there’s a lot of ground he needed to makeup when it came to developing his skills against comparable talents.


When he was signed on the last day of July, Tucker appeared to be just another training camp body, signed late after the Chiefs released WR David Grimes as training camp started.

Tucker caught the eye of the head coach pretty quickly. With his background as a receivers coach in the NFL, Haley has very defined criterion that he uses to evaluate the guys catching the ball. This undrafted rookie out of the University of California had some of those characteristics Haley thinks are important. Haley wouldn’t go into detail, but Tucker showed he has good hands, he plays fast, he’s athletic with good control of his body, and he will compete for any pass thrown his way.

After spending five weeks on the practice squad, he was added to the roster near the end of October and was on the field in the offense almost immediately. He did not become a big part of the passing game, as he caught six passes for 114 yards over the final 11 games of the season.

But he became a big contributor on special teams, and he ended up third on the team in special teams tackles with 16, and those came in just 11 games. WR Terrance Copper and Studebaker finished ahead of him, but played all 16 games.

That effort and production in the kicking game tells us a great deal about Tucker and his willingness to work and do what’s necessary to make a contribution. It’s a sign that when the off-season work begins, he’ll be willing to do the type of work that could elevate his participation in the offense.

There’s no question an opening exists at wide receiver, since Chris Chambers does not figure to return. The Chiefs attack desperately needs some big play options. Tucker could develop into that type of player.


Without a doubt what Jackson has contributed in two seasons has been a major disappointment. The No. 3 player taken in any draft has to contribute more in 28 games over the last two seasons than what Jackson has put on the field for the Chiefs. He has 62 total tackles, one sack, nine QB pressures and four passes defensed (knocked down). That’s just over two tackles per game.

Jackson’s rookie season saw limited improvement over the course of that 2009 season. He was given the opportunity to start, but he did not take advantage of the snaps. He was more productive as the season wore on. After 10 games, he had 15 total tackles. Over the last six games, he added 16 tackles.

Training camp and the pre-season showed improvement from Jackson, and there were some folks around the Chiefs that were getting excited about his play. But when he suffered a sprained MCL in the season opener, Jackson season went on hold. He missed the next four games and essentially a fifth when he got on the field against Jacksonville but got nothing done.

But over the last 10 games, Jackson started contributing again, even though he wasn’t getting the playing time he’d gotten the year before. Shaun Smith had passed him for a spot in the starting lineup, and with the rotation and sub defenses that limited his snaps. By the end of the season, he appeared to be playing at the level that was seen before he was injured.

It’s critical for Jackson to justify his draft position by coming out in the 2011 season and stepping up his production and play. He’s never going to be much of a threat when it comes to sacking the quarterback. But what he needs to become is an anchor on the left side of the defense, one that stops the running game and every once in awhile puts some pressure on the passer.

The Chiefs must improve their run defense and that starts with the three guys up front and that’s why Tyson Jackson needs to take a big step forward in 2011.


In association with the publication Pro Football Weekly, the Pro Football Writers Association of America votes on an NFL all-star team and an all-rookie team.

RB Jamaal Charles was the only Chiefs player on the all-star team. SS Eric Berry was selected for the All-Rookie team. GM Scott Pioli was honored as executive of the year.

Pro Football Weekly/PFWA 2010 All-NFL Team


  • QB – Tom Brady / Patriots
  • RBs – Arian Foster / Texans; Jamaal Charles / Chiefs
  • WRs – Roddy White / Falcons; Reggie Wayne / Colts
  • TE – Jason Witten / Cowboys
  • C – Nick Mangold / Jets. OG Jahri Evans / Saints; Chris Snee / Giants. OT Joe Thomas / Browns; Jake Long / Dolphins.


  • DEs – Julius Peppers / Bear; Justin Tuck / Giants
  • DTs – Haloti Ngata / Ravens; Ndamukong Suh / Lions
  • OLBs – Clay Matthews / Packers; James Harrison / Steelers
  • MLB – Jerod Mayo / Patriots
  • CBs – Asante Samuel / Eagles; Darrelle Revis / Jets
  • S – Troy Polamalu / Steelers; Ed Reed / Ravens


  • PK – Billy Cundiff / Ravens
  • P – Shane Lechler / Raiders
  • PR – Devin Hester / Bears
  • KR – Leon Washington / Seahawks
  • ST – Eric Weems / Falcons


  • MVP — Patriots QB Tom Brady
  • Defensive MVP — Packers LB Clay Matthews
  • Coach of the Year — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
  • Rookie of the Year — Lions DT Ndamukong Suh
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year — Rams QB Sam Bradford
  • Most Improved Player of the Year — Texans RB Arian Foster
  • Comeback Player of the Year — Eagles QB Michael Vick
  • Executive of the Year — Chiefs GM Scott Pioli
  • Assistant Coach of the Year — Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
  • Golden Toe (Best Placekicker or Punter) — Ravens PK Billy Cundiff

Pro Football Weekly/PFWA All-Rookie Team


  • QB – Sam Bradford / Rams
  • RB – LeGarrette Blount / Bucs; Chris Ivory / Saints
  • WR – Mike Williams / Bucs; Dez Bryant / Cowboys
  • TE – Rob Gronkowski / Patriots
  • OL – C Maurkice Pouncey / Steelers. OGs Mike Iupati / 49ers; OG John Jerry / Dolphins. OTs Rodger Saffold / Rams; Bryan Bulaga / Packers


  • DL – Ndamukong Suh / Lions; Carlos Dunlap / Bengals; Lamarr Houston / Raiders; Tyson Alualu / Jaguars.
  • LBs – Rolando McClain / Raiders; Koa Misi / Dolphins; Pat Angerer / Colts
  • CB – Devin McCourty / Patriots; Joe Haden / Browns
  • S – Eric Berry / Chiefs; T.J. Ward / Browns


  • PK – Clint Stitser / Bengals
  • P – Zoltan Mesko / Patriots
  • PR – Marc Mariani / Titans
  • KR – Jacoby Ford / Raiders
  • ST- T.J. Ward / Browns


  • BRONCOS – named the following to John Fox’s coaching staff: Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator; Clancy Barone, tight ends; Brian Callahan, quality control-offense; Dave Magazu, offensive line; Wayne Nunnely, defensive line; Jay Rodgers, quality control-defense; Eric Studesville, running backs and Tyke Tolbert, wide receivers.
  • DOLPHINS – named Brian Daboll offensive coordinator.
  • EAGLES – fired defensive line coach Rory Segrest.
  • PANTHERS – named Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski as offensive coordinator and Brian Murphy as special teams coordinator.
  • RAIDERS – named Hue Jackson head coach.
  • RAVENS – signed reserve/futures contracts with WR James Hardy, OT Brady Bond, OT Andre Ramsey, WR Justin Harper, QB Hunter Cantwell, CB Danny Gorrer and OLB Albert McClellan.

12 Responses to “Developmental Stars For ’11 … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 18, 2011  - Michael says:

    Bob, I agree with both of your lists of developmental players. You decided to limit your lists to three players each but, of course, there were far more than three who stepped forward in 2010, and the Chiefs will need far more than three to do the same in 2011. I, of course, have my own lists, but I have to get to work. Later.

  • January 18, 2011  - RW says:

    I’d like to see Studebaker about 20 lbs lighter while maintaining his strength because his closing speed to the ball hasn’t impressed me. As a comparison, look at that extra half-step of speed Tamba picked up when he shed the extra weight.

  • January 18, 2011  - Andrew says:

    Bob, good article. Can you take this a little further. We have other players everyone forgets about on our roster. Before everyone starts chiming in about positions we need to draft, give us a review of players who might fill significant roles next year. We have Cameron Sheffield, Jerheme Urban and Maurice Leggett on injured/reserve. The current roster has players such as Dion Gales, Daryl Harris, Justin Cole, Bobby and Cory Greenwood and Jeremy Horne. Are any of these guys ready to step up?

  • January 18, 2011  - KC_Guy says:

    Studebaker: I’m not sure he can be an every down player. He’ll probably have to fight for a starting spot with Sheffield and may be another guy – wherever you look, OLB seems to be one of the Chiefs’ top picks in the draft this year (however, I disagree). Vrabel is done, it’s time to move on. If either Studie or Sheffield are fit to take over – that would help a lot.

    Jackson: make or break season coming up. That untimely injury caused some delay in his development but I agree he showed some improvement later in the season. Nevertheless – unless he improves significantly I’d consider him a full time bust.

    Tucker: Now, he’s a surprise. I really like him. Showed good speed and hands at times but excelled on ST. I think he can be a #3/4 WR next year. Add Urban to the mix (as the slot guy I think) and the Chiefs may not even need another Wideout as urgently as some may think. McCluster’s role will be interesting to see moving forward but honestly I don’t see him as a WR in any capacity.

    Some names I want to throw in here who I think also have vastly improved over the season:

    Glen Dorsey – finally got into his own at DE
    Wallace Gilberry – if he had 20 lbs more I think he could challenge Jackson for the DE spot.
    Barry Richardson – he’s not there yet, but vastly improved. Needs more consistency.

    One guy who I think remarkably declined:
    Ryan Succop – fairly short on KO, FG precision down significantly, and the brass obviously lost confidence in him kicking FG from 50 yds out. Expect another kicker in camp!

  • January 18, 2011  - gorillafan says:

    I think that Succop got a little rusty. Everytime we were into a long field goal try, Haley went for it on 4th down alot of the time. Why I agree he may have dropped off a little, and with the needs on this team, another kicker would be one of the last positions I would draft

  • January 18, 2011  - el cid says:

    Everyone has favorites who “if only given a chance” could be a building block for the Chiefs. Mostly guys, who for a variety of reasons, have under produced or not produced a thing. Sort of like everyone loves the backup QB, not in KC of course. Until these guys get on the field and bump a starter, you just do not know. That’s why we need coaches and GM who we believe is making the best possible choices.

    As for me, I believe we need competition at K and P. I like both but don’t we need to look for better talent. Might be wrong but isn’t the Neb K a P also. College kickers seem stronger each year. Also you can get them as a college free agent for the most part.

    OCs are starting to fall in place, hope we are not left with the scraps to chose from. Cassel needs the support and doubt anyone on staff is that guy.

    You guys covered the rest real well, thanks.

  • January 18, 2011  - el cid says:

    Maintenance question – did a article disappear out of the middle of this site? Might be my computer but one is missing.

  • January 18, 2011  - gorillafan says:

    The vote for favorite play is missing, the one article that you were getting bashed by others in the comments. Not that I agree, just sayn. I thought maybe he took it off since the voting deadline was yesterday, but thought he would still leave it on?? Maybe he is counting the votes and repost it today or tomorrow or something??

  • January 18, 2011  - Edward says:

    Agree with all those assessments Bob. I think all 3 guys will develop nicely next season and be huge part of why this ship will continue to sell in the right direction. I expect Tjax to have the same level of play Dorsey had this yr. Studebaker to be a 7-9 sack guy since he’ll be given the job full-time now. Tucker is a wild card. I just don’t know what to expect he’s got potential I think key for him would be finding a veteran receiver to help him over the summer and spending extra time with Matt getting more reps with Matt. I would add to that short list the rookie class of 2010 including Sheffield. I think he really can be a very good pass rusher just sad we had to shut him down for the season because of injury. If he comes back healthy he’ll be another guy making a splash next season just keep your eye on him Bob

  • January 19, 2011  - Michael says:

    I agree with KC_Guy’s list, plus add Jovan Belcher, who got bigger and stronger and played much better at LB and Shaun Smith on the DL, who improved on even his best years with Crennel in Cleveland.

    To next year’s list of Studebaker, T. Jackson and Tucker, add all second, thrid, and fourth year players. Or better yet, every player on the team!That’s the goal, right. But, I know we’re looking for a few that will pop out; so I’ll throw out three. I would add LB Cory Greenwood, who already is a core special teams guy. He’s bigger and faster than Belcher, and with another offseason under his belt could steal some time or even the full-time job from Jovan. Could be a great competition to watch. Next is OL Jon Asamough. I’ve heard and seen nothing but good things about him, and he appears to be ready to start now. Not sure where along the interior of the OL it will be, but KC could use his size and nastiness there. One of the most important questions the Chiefs need to answer this offseason is the status of the three vets up front on the OL, Wiegmann, Waters and Lilja, and the status of suitable replacements when needed.

    The next one is TE Tony Moeaki. He showed up this year, but looks to have quite a high ceiling. Can he take it a Pro Bowl level in year 2?

  • January 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    Guess so on Belcher, do not remember it that way. Like Smith just fine but is he a DE or NT or both. Studebaker, not to sure, Vrabel seemed old this year and Studebaker could not dislodge him except in relief. Asamough has a huge upside, but left or right side. Still think vets in the OL have another year until we can develope a college kid. But we need the C of the future pretty quickly.

    Moeaki proved me totally wrong, no injuries. Have we got enough backups or do we draft another this year?

  • January 19, 2011  - Michael says:

    It likely would be clearer for you if Corey Mayes had started in front of Belcher. Yes, Smith is a DE or NT.(?) He plays better at DE, but he probably would be decent as a backup NT. I think you have to consider where Studebaker started from and where he has progressed to; from a small school DE, rookie FA DE, to a good OLB. He’s come a long way, has a great work ethic, and is still improving. Yes, center of the future ought to be a high priority.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News