With 75 percent of the season past, it seemed time to update our player rankings for the 2011 season.
Since the last time we published ratings at mid-season, some players have gone up the ladder (CB Javier Arenas, RB Dexter McCluster, OLB Justin Houston) while others have dropped (WR Dwayne Bowe, RB Jackie Battle, DE Glenn Dorsey and LG Ryan Lilja.)
Here’s what we say about where the roster shakes out.
1. ILB Derrick Johnson (1) β He remains the most consistent and productive player on the team and he’s starting to draw attention around the league for his relentless play from inside the Chiefs 3-4 defense. The fact he never comes off the field makes him unusual among many of the inside backers in the league.
2. OLB Tamba Hali (2)
3. K Ryan Succop (left) (9) β After a poor start to his season, he’s become one of the most consistent kickers in the league. He now has 15 FGs in a row, one of the longest streaks currently active in the league.
4. QB Matt Cassel (3)
5. P Dustin Colquitt (6)
6. CB Brandon Flowers (5)
7. CB Javier Arenas (16) β He’s made one of the biggest jumps on the roster over the last four weeks. He’s really stood up in his role as the team’s nickel back and taken on some tough assignments and made them work. Arenas still needs to get into the end zone with a punt or kickoff return.
8. RB Dexter McCluster (17)
9. NT Kelly Gregg (11)
10. WR Dwayne Bowe (right) (4) β Bowe’s production has suffered due to the absence of Cassel, so dropping him in the rankings may be a bit unfair. But a receiver of his stature needs to be able to handle a different quarterback and uneven circumstances. For the Chiefs to start reaching the end zone, they need Bowe catching the ball for big plays.
11. WR Steve Breaston (7)
12. DE Tyson Jackson (12)
13. RB Jackie Battle (10) β After a quick start in the Indianapolis game when he got a chance to play and topped 100 rushing yards, Battle’s production has dipped in the Chiefs’ offense and it’s decreasing on a weekly basis.
14. C Casey Wiegmann (8)
15. ILB Jovan Belcher (18) β Although his play is often lost because he plays next to Derrick Johnson, Belcher has taken another step forward this year, becoming more and more of a factor, especially against the running game. Considering his undrafted status, he remains a solid contributor.
16. LT Branden Albert (15)
17. DE Wallace Gilberry (23)
18. RG Jon Asamoah (25)
19. OLB Justin Houston (28) β The rookie OLB really seems to be putting it together on a weekly basis these days and the Chiefs now wait to see if his three-sack performance against Chicago signaled a breakthrough game in this first season. Houston is one of the most dynamic and explosive pass rushers at outside linebacker that the team has seen in years.
20. CB Brandon Carr (13)
21. DE Glenn Dorsey (14)
22. DE Allen Bailey (43) β From week-to-week, the rookie DE out of Miami takes little baby steps of progress. It’s tough to see over several weeks, but compared to where he was back in September at the start of the regular season, there’s been obvious growth. He must increase his production in tackles and sacks.
23. C/G Rodney Hudson (NR)
24. DL Amon Gordon (left) (24) β If he continues his play of the last few weeks, Gordon will get more opportunities in the defensive line rotation. He’s contributed a couple of quarterback sacks has been a reliable run stuffer in relief of Kelly Gregg.
25. CB Travis Daniels (35)
26. LG Ryan Lilja (20) β His level of play has dropped since the start of the season. Whether there is an underlying physical problem, or he’s just hit the wall, left guard is a spot where the Chiefs must find his eventually replacement soon, figuring Rodney Hudson moves to center.
27. LB Cameron Sheffield (37)
28. LB Andy Studebaker (30)
29. S Reshard Langford (41) β Even though his actual play time has been limited and he spent several weeks as a game-day inactive, Langford has contributed on special teams and gets more and more defensive exposure.
30. LB Demorrio Williams (31)
31. LS Thomas Gafford (32)
32. WR Terrance Copper (39)
33. FS Kendrick Lewis (27) β It’s been an up and down year for Lewis. He’s battled injuries all season, especially lower leg problems. There have been some important interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. But overall his level of play has not matched last year, possibly since he’s missing his running mate SS Eric Berry.
34. WR Jonathan Baldwin (36)
35. FB Le’Ron McClain (19) β He gets a lot of attention, but when you look at the statistical sheet of the season, there is not much under his name. McClain has only 16 yards rushing on eight carries and 10 catches for 56 yards. He’s scored two touchdowns. That’s 18 touches for 72 yards.
36. QB Tyler Palko (NR)
37. LB Cory Greenwood (22)
38. OT Jared Gaither (40) β Why things did not work out for Gaither and the Chiefs came down to one thing β he did not achieve the desired level of performance on a daily basis. There was too much up and down, too many tea leaves that had to be read each day on whether Gaither was fully engaged or just cruising through the day.
39. SS Jon McGraw (21)
40. RB Thomas Jones (26)
41. CB Jalil Brown (right) (33) β As the season has gone a long, Brown has gotten more snaps on defense to go with all of his special teams work. He’s willing to use his body when tackling and ultimately, because of his size at 6-1, 205 pounds, he may be better suited for free safety. Brown needs to clean up the penalties in the kicking game; that hurt his grade for this quarter.
42. TE Anthony Becht (44)
43. WR Jerheme Urban (46)
44. WR Jeremy Horne (NR)
45. NT Jerrell Powe (NR) β He played just a few plays in the New England game, but Powe held his own inside. He got a push off the line and did what the nose tackle must do in the Chiefs 3-4 scheme β he controlled both A gaps, fighting off blocks to force runners to move outside.
46. TE Jake O’Connell (34)
47. S Sabby Piscitelli (47)
48. RT Barry Richardson (38) β Without a doubt he’s the full-time starter who is struggling the most in getting the basics done. There’s no question that his level of play has regressed since last year. Again, there’s always a chance there’s an underlying physical problem. Richardson is a free agent after this season and it’s hard to believe the Chiefs will attempt to re-sign him based on his current performance level.
49. OT Steve Maneri (NR)
50. TE Leonard Pope (42) β Not only is Pope not much of a receiving threat at tight end, his blocking in the run game has dropped off this year. There have been too many penalties and too little production.
51. S Donald Washington (45)
52-55. β DE Brandon Bair, QB Ricky Stanzi, QB Kyle Orton and OT David Mims β Just not enough evidence to make any conclusions.