Rookie/Draft Review 2011 – Monday Cup O’Chiefs

As they closed out the 2011 season, the Chiefs had 69 players under their control.

Among that number were 14 rookies, or 20.3 percent of the roster. But only five of those 14 rookies got a chance to play in the regular season, so the rookie class of ’11 remains largely an unknown in the building of the franchise. That’s too bad because given the holes in the roster some among those nine other rookies might have been able to stabilize his position, whether in the season just completed or the next one.

Opportunities were wasted, best exemplified by first-round draft pick Jonathan Baldwin who hampered his own development when he got into a locker room fight with Thomas Jones and ended up missing two months of pass catching. Other rookies took advantage of their opportunities, none more so than OLB Justin Houston. The third-round choice took time getting his feet under him, but by the end of the season, Houston was the most dynamic defensive player on the field for Romeo Crennel’s defense.

Overall, rookies contributed 75 games of play and 14 starts. That’s compared to 113 games last year, with 53 starts from the 2010 rookies. And in 2009, the rookies gave the Chiefs 94 games and 21 starts. Obviously, this year’s group didn’t matchup with the ’10 rookies, but they also didn’t come close to equaling the numbers of the dreadful ’09 rookie group. But then after two years, it should have been harder for the rookies to get into the starting lineup especially.

Here is a look at all 14 rookies and what they got done and didn’t get done in their first NFL season:

DE Allen Bailey (3rd-round draft choice) – 16 games/0 starts/294 plays; 7 total tackles, 1 sack, 6 QB pressure, 1 fumble recovery, 2 passes knocked down.

Other than Houston, Bailey saw the most playing time among the rookies, working as a defensive end in the sub-packages against the pass like the Chiefs nickel and dime packages. He rushed the passer 225 times and produced just a single sack and only 6 pressures; to get near the QB only 7 times in 225 plays equals production of only 3 percent. That hardly qualifies as breaking into the NFL with a bang. Bailey came to the Chiefs as a raw package of athletic ability. In college he had moved inside and outside several times during four years at Miami, picking up 19 sacks in 50 games with 27 starts. OUTLOOK: there’s talent in that impressive 6-3, 288-pound body. But how that fits into the two-gap 3-4 defense remains a question mark. Whether he’s good enough to be a pass rushing specialist, or can be a starting defensive end is conjecture right now. As the 86th player selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, he may have been taken too early.

DE Brandon Bair (free agent) – 0 games.

It’s a shame the coaching staff couldn’t get Bair on the field for even one game. Based on what we saw in training camp and the pre-season, Bair is a good athlete with nice size at 6-7, 272 pounds. He’s 27 years old, on the high end of the age spectrum for a rookie. Obviously the Chiefs felt he’s a talented player, or they wouldn’t have left him on the active roster for all 17 weeks of the regular season. There was a feeling that Bair could get away if he was on the practice squad and eligible to be signed. OUTLOOK – he’s a good athlete with some skills and the coming off-season will be huge for Bair and his future not only with the Chiefs, but the NFL.

WR Jonathan Baldwin (1st-round) – 10 games/3 starts/404 plays; 21 catches, 254 yards, 1 touchdown catch.

Anyone expecting a big contribution from Baldwin in his rookie season wasn’t dealing with the reality of the league and the position. Next to quarterback, wide receiver may be the toughest spot for a first-year guy to come onto the roster and make a major contribution. Guys like A.J. Green and Julio Jones are few and far between. Green finished with 1,057 receiving yards, the first rookie to go over 1,000 yards since Marques Colston did it with New Orleans in 2006. Baldwin never had a chance because of the hand injury he suffered in a locker room fight during training camp with RB Thomas Jones. That fight was related in some manner to diva like behavior from Baldwin, who had trouble adjusting to the intensity and focus that was expected of him coming out of college ball. Overall, he was on the field for 404 offensive plays. He was targeted for 51 passes, catching 21. There was only one TD and one pass play for more than 20 yards. His yards after the catch was almost negligible and he had six dropped passes. OUTLOOK – There is physical talent there, but whether Baldwin has the fortitude and desire to change his approach and become professional remains to be seen. He’s got a lot of room to improve.

FB Shane Bannon (7th-round) – 0 games.

Bannon spent the season on the practice squad and then the ps-injured reserve list with an ankle/foot injury. Bannon did not display much in the pre-season to indicate he’s a diamond in the rough needing just opportunity to succeed. OUTLOOK – As a 7th-round choice, he’s no Ryan Succop.

CB Jalil Brown (4th-round) – 14 games/0 starts/31 defensive plays; no defensive tackles, but 8 special teams tackles.

Brown saw very little time on defense; when he did, he seemed to handle himself well in coverage. His problems on defense and in the kicking game were untimely penalties that could have cost the Chiefs dearly, but which they got out from under. He showed good athletic skills on the field. OUTLOOK – There is something to work with here and the question is whether he has the skills to play on the corner, or whether he would be better suited to playing on the back line at safety.

RB Shaun Draughn (free agent) – 1 game/0 starts/2 special teams plays; no statistics.

Draughn spent 11 weeks on the practice squad and was promoted to the active roster for the final game, replacing Jackie Battle. His only play time came on kick coverage team in that game where the Chiefs only kicked off twice in the game. OUTLOOK – Players were impressed at times by the work Draughn did on the practice squad. It would be a shock if the Chiefs didn’t take him into the off-season program and training camp.

C/G Rodney Hudson (2nd-round) – 16 games/1 start/134 offensive plays.

Hudson saw just a bit of playing time at mid-season when Ryan Lilja went down at the end of the third quarter with an apparent concussion in the game against New England. In those few snaps, Hudson actually did a better job pass blocking than he did blocking in the running game. That’s a good sign for his future development, because the run blocking can be taught and improved with better technique and time in the weight room. OUTLOOK – Hudson appears to be the man who will step into the center position now that Casey Wiegmann has apparently retired. He showed nothing in his rookie season to think he could not handle the position, but he’s going to need a big off-season of weight room work.

OLB Justin Houston (3rd-round) – 16 games/10 starts/775 defensive plays; 70 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 12 QB pressure, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 4 passes knocked down.

Taking Houston with his baggage of failing a drug test at the NFL Combine was a bit of a gamble for GM Scott Pioli. Based on what he was able to get out of the young linebacker, Pioli should gamble more often. Houston put together one of the best rookie seasons by a linebacker in recent Chiefs history. His 5.5 sacks were second behind Derrick Thomas and his 10 sacks as a rookie in 1989. Houston’s 70 tackles were the second most over the last 25 years by a rookie LB (No. 1 was Derrick Johnson with 110 tackles in 2005.) He showed real power and speed rushing the passer and he held that end pretty well against the run. Houston was a disaster in pass coverage, very unsure of himself and frequently left behind by a receiver. OUTLOOK – Based on his rookie season, score this one a big hit for Pioli. If Houston keeps his nose and urine clean, his addition will be on par of getting Eric Berry in the first round the year before.

OLB Gabe Miller (5th-round) – 0.

In training camp it was apparent that Miller had some skills of the same type as Justin Houston and Cameron Sheffield. He could play the outside linebacker spot and the 6-3, 257-pound product of Oregon State had the skills to rush the passer, along with making athletic contributions on special teams. There was no way he was going to make the active roster, and he conveniently suffered an injury late in the pre-season that was enough to get him a full year on the injured-reserve list. OUTLOOK – By the end of the season the Chiefs had seven players on the injured-reserve list and I believe Miller was the only guy that was there every day, attending meetings and going to practice, even though he could not put on a helmet and get on the field. That tells us one of two things and both are good indications. Either Miller is dedicated enough to football that he didn’t want to be away, or the coaches asked him to hang around and soak up whatever he could. There’s potential there.

OT David Mims (free agent) – 0.

Coming out of Division II ball at Virginia Union, Mims had brought a very big body (6-8, 335 pounds) and some good athletic skills to training camp as an undrafted rookie. He spent the first 12 weeks on the practice squad, but then was promoted to the active roster for the final five games. He was a game-day inactive player for all five. So why did the Chiefs promote him if they weren’t going to play him? There’s only one reason – another team was sniffing around and thinking about signing him. Again, practice squad players are really free agents and can sign with any team at any time. But if they do sign, they must be added to the active roster and they have to stay a minimum of three weeks. OUTLOOK – A year around the Chiefs and around their strength and conditioning program can only have been helpful for Mims. Whether that leads to anything tangible is still too early to tell. Even a big off-season of improvement would probably still leave him struggling to make the 53-man roster outright. But if can transfer potential to production, Mims could be quite a find.

WR Jamar Newsome (free agent) – 0.

Added to the practice squad on December 3, he looks like a receiver with his size (6-1, 201 pounds) and the way he runs on the field. Other than that, he’s an unknown. OUTLOOK – That of any undrafted rookie free agent going into his second NFL season.

OL Lucas Patterson (free agent) – 0.

He went to training camp as an undrafted rookie defensive lineman and after one day in St. Joseph he was shifted over to the offensive line. The Texas A&M product made the transition well enough to spend 16 of 17 weeks on the practice squad. He’s 6-4, 295 pounds. OUTLOOK – It’s hard to believe the Chiefs would have keep Patterson around all season if they didn’t see something in his future. There are far too many offensive linemen roaming around the edges of football to hold onto a guy who has no chance. Whether that chance comes this year, we don’t know, but if Patterson is a legitimate blocker, it will have to be something he shows in this off-season.

NT Jerrell Powe (6th-round) – 1 game/0 starts/9 defensive plays; 0 tackles.

The Chiefs coaches wasted a year with this young man, giving him just one chance to play, and when he was dressed, getting him on the field for just nine plays. So essentially, Powe heads into the coming season without being tested in any real manner since the pre-season. Considering the shallowness of the nose tackle position and its importance in the 3-4 defense the staff should have worked harder at finding out whether the young man has the basic tools to play the spot. OUTLOOK – who knows? If I was an NFL owner, I would demand that my coaching staff get every draft choice on the field for a number of plays so at least there could be some idea of whether or not he has a future. How many plays or games is debatable, but it’s a crime to have a guy for 16 games and he plays just nine plays in one game.

QB Ricky Stanzi (5th-round) – 0.

It’s also a crime that Stanzi was on the roster for 16 games and didn’t take a snap. This on a team that lost by 34 points to Buffalo, 45 points to Detroit, 28 points to Miami and 27 points to the New York Jets. All of those games were opportunities to allow Stanzi a few plays. OUTLOOK – See above comments on Powe. The Chiefs have only marginally more information on Stanzi than they did when he was drafted. Plus, with a new offensive coordinator coming in, there will be no continuity for whatever he learned last season.


21 Responses to “Rookie/Draft Review 2011 – Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 18, 2012  - Petey says:

    Unbelievable to me Bob that you would not rate every single one of these picks an A+++, must be because you have been shut out by the Pioli regime, so you are taking shots at his draft picks. I may leave this site if you don’t start being more positive (but I’ll be back later today and will give you my $25 next year :) .


  • January 18, 2012  - Tim says:

    I wouldn’t disagree with a whole lot of this, especially about not playing Powe & Stanzi. That was just…well, we all know. I believe Bailey is a bit better than your write up. He was continuing to improve as things went on. I wonder what those efficiency numbers are for Tyson Jackson? LOL.


  • January 18, 2012  - el cid says:

    I guess Petey is joking. Petey do not go to the dark side with cy and tx.

    Hard to argue Bob’s views, even if I wish we had more starters. But we had Haley making his point so our views are distorted, mishaped. I believe with Crennel and his new staff will clear the air in 2012. Got to consider,if we got a hotshot OC, there could be changes in what kids fit the new system. Considering how many holes were in the roster, the 2011 draft is questionable.


  • January 18, 2012  - Chuck says:

    I can’t completely explain this but Allen Bailey reminds me of Turk McBride. Hopefully he will do much better than Turk fared.


  • January 18, 2012  - Petey says:

    Cid…I was just trying out the land of milk and honey to see how it fit. I don’t like it…makes me feel like I need a shower.


  • January 18, 2012  - el cid says:

    Petey, with tx and cy there, do NOT turn your back in that shower. LOL


  • January 18, 2012  - rufus says:

    I guess you have a good point Bob, but It doesn’t bother me these players like Powe & Stanzi didn’t play because the staff is giving everything to the starters and sub packg players that really aren’t quite where they need to be or need show it gets done, ie Gregg & Casey W, Jones & Orton. The other factor in this is that I would rather trust my staff to develop these young players and give them the shot when it really is time for guys like Stanzi to help this team win.

    I know the other side of not playing young players means lacking experience, but few teams throw in the back up when their starter sucks, that’s the NFL nowadays — win baby, or hit the road.

    But if they don’t play unprepped, they keep their mojo in tact.. pluses and minuses to each style there.

    But thx for the rook review, it was good.


  • January 18, 2012  - Blake says:

    Funny Bob, you don’t mention the lockout at all in this story? Don’t you think that was probably another big reason for these players not getting as much playing time???? I guarantee you that if it was a normal offseason then the players would have played more and probably done better.

    I am pretty sure Pioli said before the season that Powe wouldn’t play much this year and that it would be more of a watch and learn season for him.

    Besides it is still way to early to grade a draft. How much playing time did Jammal Charles get his first year? I think he has turned out to be an ok player…


  • January 18, 2012  - Rick says:

    .
    Geeze, after the first outing by Palko, it would have been nice to see what Stanzi could have done for a few of those starts. It was painfully obvious early that Palko isn’t ever going to be even a decent 3rd stringer, and we still don’t know a damned thing about Stanzi. Dumb!


  • January 18, 2012  - Canada Brad says:

    I don’t know (nor does anyone else here) that we can blame Haley for not getting some of these players on the field. Some people are suggesting that Romeo will get it fixed. However, it should be noted that it was Romeo’s defense that didn’t play Bair or Powe. I wonder which is worse:

    - that the players weren’t played when they could have contributed, or
    - that they weren’t played because the couldn’t contribute.

    I am going to blindly hope that next season feels like we got two draft classes in the off-season, and lots of these faces (from this article) and new ones contribute positively to the performance of the Chiefs on the field.


  • January 18, 2012  - Niblick says:

    I think perhaps Haley was just being stubborn in sticking with Palko, and not giving Stanzi a shot. I think he knew he was on the way out anyway and might as well stick with Palko. I doubt it would have made much difference anyway. I don’t see Stanzi being much more than a 3rd QB, if he sticks at all. However, I might still have given him a shot. By the the way, T J Yates was taken after Stanzi in the 5th round. From what I’ve seen he would have definitely been a better late round QB pick. Sometimes its’s a roll of the dice on late round QBs. Look at Brady as a 6th rounder. Of course he was one in a million.


  • January 18, 2012  - Tim says:

    Niblick…that’s the point. We don’t know if Stanzi is comparable or not. To suggest at this point Yates is better would be way premature.


  • January 18, 2012  - COCHIEF says:

    Guys, give Bob a break. He is human and his observations aren’t perfect. However, he provides viewpoints based on years of experience closer to the action than us. At the very least, I value his viewpoints as a counter to the PR puffery provided by the Chiefs. If all you want is positive reinforcement of the Chiefs, save your money and only go to the Chiefs website. Personally, I like to consider all the positives and all the negatives, then use my own judgement as to what I think is right.


  • January 18, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Justin Houston. With that said, Pioli might want to reconsider his character priority within the draft. I don’t really need a Sunday school team; I want a football team that can compete. If every body on the team is a leader, then who in the hell can follow? Hate it that Justin did drugs; love what he does on the field. Go get a bunch more just like him. And get me a QB that can curse like a sailor and complete passes.


  • January 18, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    OK, I’m hot now. Go get me an offensive line that can open holes for the running game and provide protection for the passing game, even thou it took Cassel forever to make up his mind last year, and I’ll post their bail on Saturday night so they can get to Arrowhead on Sunday. Screw character, I want to win.


  • January 18, 2012  - txchief says:

    Yay, an article about football! I was beginning to wonder if I was reading a football website or soap-opera-daily.com.

    I was especially disappointed in not seeing Powe get more game time. It is absolutely true that the Chiefs need a reliable run-stuffer in the middle. I believe that Baldwin could have been a much greater contributor if he had not stunted his own development with his dumbass locker room injury.

    Bob, how about an analysis of how other NFL teams’ rookies fared this season? I’d figure that the entire NFL rookie class had less impact than usual due to the lack of an offseson program and a foreshortened training camp.


  • January 18, 2012  - txchief says:

    Looks like el cid has a vivid imagination. I retired from Sith, Inc. years ago. Ol’ Vader and the Emperor got too soft towards the end. Don’t worry about the shower my boy, you’re not my type.


  • January 18, 2012  - txchief says:

    By the way guys, did you pay your season ticket bill? I did. I paid up, and I expect significant improvement in 2012. To rightly criticize the product, you have to buy some of it first.


  • January 18, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    C’mon txchief! You ruin a good post about football by going right back to the soap opera and sweet talking el cid. Hopefully JFW will get us a modern cross between Joe Kapp and Bobby Layne and we’ll see a Super Bowl in our near future. After all, the whole team can’t be choirboys. Good take on the class Bob. If a few of the possibilities mentioned work out and we have a decent draft this year and a few good free agent pickups there may just be some light behind the dark clouds circling Arrowhead.


  • January 18, 2012  - Blake says:

    Johnfromwichita, I don’t understand why you would say that Pioli is wanting a Sunday school team when he was the one that had the final say and drafted two players (Baldwin and Houston) that supposedly had character problems? lol you almost act as if he wasn’t the one that drafted Houston? I don’t believe that he ever said he was only looking for guys that are team leaders.


  • January 19, 2012  - Petey says:

    I just want to make sure that I understand what I’m reading from you tx: are you saying that anyone who doesn’t have season tickets doesn’t get to criticize.

    Wow….Bob, I guess you aren’t allowed to offer anything but fluff pieces moving forward (assuming you use your press pass to see games…you and EVERY OTHER reporter.)




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