Carl Peterson obviously meant what he said as the team emphasis, right or wrong, was on re-signing our own players. Other than John Tait, the team was able to keep the players it wanted. Chris Bober, the one free agent the team did sign, appears to be an adequate replacement for Tait. The bottom line result is that the Chiefs have spent the free agency signing period treading water. The signs, therefore, point to the upcoming draft as the sole vehicle the Chiefs plan to use to improve the team. The problem is that the Chiefs will be drafting almost at the end of every round and that's not the place you want to be if you intend to draft players that can help immediately.
And, yes, the Chiefs do need some immediate help, especially on the defense. Gunther Cunningham's presence almost guarantees that the defense will be improved even if the same players take the field, but the old adage that you can't make chicken salad out of chicken doots rings true. Dramatic improvement in the defense will require some new players in the starting lineup. As I see it, the biggest needs on the defense are at cornerback, defensive tackle, and linebacker.
At the corners, Eric Warfield and Dexter McCleon are adequate starters. However, the team would be better served if the team had another cover corner to allow McCleon to move over to cover the slot receiver when required. William Bartee has not progressed as the team hoped and may never be more than a body in dime coverage. Julian Battle looked very raw in the few opportunities he had last season and it is not clear if he's capable of taking over the nickel back role. It's doubtful that the Chiefs will be in a position to draft a corner who can step in right away, but Derrick Straight (Oklahoma) would be hard to pass up in the first round.
Defensive tackles John Browning and Ryan Sims are both players who are more effective when allowed to move to the ball instead of playing "read & react." Eric Downing is back in the fold, but his progress has been disappointing. A run-stuffing tackle that could rotate with Browning and Sims would help solidify the middle of the defense.
The need at linebacker is less urgent, but there is concern about depth at the position. Mike Maslowski is a tough-nosed player in the middle, but he is not very fast. The team is high on Kawika Mitchell's potential, but he looked lost at times last season when he had to step in for Maslowski. Quentin Caver, Fred Jones, and Monty Beisel provide what little depth there is, but all three are primarily special teams specialists.
Offensive needs are less glaring, but there is an obvious need for a top-notch receiver. Johnnie Morton played better in 2003 than he did in 2002, but he had a number of key drops and was almost invisible in several games. Eddie Kennison can still provide the deep threat, but he doesn't like to go over the middle and he's a sloppy route runner. Dante Hall is just too small to be anything other than a role player. Marc Boerigter did not look like the same player last season that he was in 2002. The question is whether it was just the sophomore jinx that affected his play or whether he took people by surprise in 2002 and he's really not very good.
There are always surprises, but I can't see the Chiefs getting involved in any sort of significant trade to move up in the first or second round as the draft is fairly deep at corner back and at defensive tackle. The wide receiver position is loaded with talent and the Chiefs should be able to pick up a good prospect in the third round. A linebacker will be taken in the fourth or fifth round and the remaining choices will be used to pick "the best available player."