1. Justin Houston (OLB) - While Houston doesn’t seem like a guy you would normally see on a list like this – it’s an important year for the second year linebacker from Georgia.
Huge expectations fell upon him in 2011, some of those were self-imposed with his prediction of double-digit sacks, as well as a late season run that saw Houston get his first sack on December 4th. But he had three-sack monster contest versus the Bears that helped Houston end the season with 5.5 sacks.
All of that sets up this training camp as one where Houston could take a gigantic step and give Kansas City a trio of potential All Pro linebackers.
2. Devon Wylie (WR) - Wylie was the fastest player in Fresno State history and could be a big piece of the Chiefs offense in 2012. While the focus at wide receiver is set firmly on second-year pass catcher Jonathan Baldwin and veteran Steve Breaston , Wylie has a golden opportunity to step up his game as Dwayne Bowe’s holdout lingers.
So that means the fourth round pick in this years draft can help stretch the field with fellow rookies Junior Hemingway, Josh Bellamy and Brandon Kinnie push each other for playing time.
3. Donald Stephenson (OT) - Many consider the Sooner and Missouri native who the Chiefs snapped up in the third round in April a project. As Kansas City moves back to running the football – depth on the offensive line is paramount.
The two-year starter and All Big 12 selection last year has the frame at 6-6 and 320-pounds that could be a solid backup for Brandon Albert at left tackle if he can move from more of a finesse blocker to a bulldozer in new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s scheme.
4. DeQuan Menzie (CB) - Any time you can draft an Alabama corner or safety – you do it. The Chiefs selected the talented Menzie 146th overall in the fifth round of this years draft. As a member of the Crimson Tide, Menzie played opposite of first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick (Cincinnati, No. 17 overall in first round). That meant he saw a lot of action as teams threw away from his talented teammate.
The 6-0, 196-pounder is athletic enough to play both safety and corner and should have an impact on special teams. With a strong camp, he gives the Chiefs another option in the secondary. And that’s a good thing considering the AFC West has suddenly become a passing division.
Dave Barr is a 19-year sports radio veteran who has worked for ESPN, Sporting News Radio and in markets like Cincinnati, Little Rock and Tulsa. Currently Barr is the program director for 1450 The Score in Joplin, Missouri and hosts the A.M. Grind weekday mornings from 6-9am.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Which of these four Chiefs will shine in St. Joe?
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