Chiefs general manager John Dorsey faced a tall task headed into the new league year.
He could either stand pat and build through the draft or be aggressive by attacking immediate needs with veteran talent.
Dorsey was aggressive in his attack at improving the 2015 roster. The moves allow the Chiefs to have flexibility to pick the best player available in the upcoming draft rather than fill holes with inexperienced prospects.
The key to this class of new Chiefs players will be if they propel Kansas City over the hump in November, December and January.
Some of the free-agent transactions, either signings or a trade, may not grab national headlines, but the Chiefs are in a better position with the following skillsets added to the roster:
THE HEADLINER: WR JEREMY MACLIN
The first noticeable difference between the former Chiefs wide receiver corps and Maclin surrounds the respect the former Eagle commands from opposing corners.
Secondaries are afraid of getting beat deep by the seven-year veteran and cornerbacks typically play off and soft with a 5- to 10-yard cushion. Maclin is able to eat up a 10-yard cushion very quickly with the free releases given to him by opposing defenses.
Opponents this season will not be able to cheat up against the Chiefs defense and will have to respect the speed of the Missouri alumnus.
The best part of Maclin’s game is his route running; he runs very crisp, quick and efficient routes. The former first rounder doesn’t lean and give away cues in the direction he is running his route. Maclin will give defenders false keys in head fakes, shoulder leans and steps to force defender to open their hips to the incorrect side.
A defender becomes easy pickings for Maclin after they have bit on his false keys. Maclin has an impressive grasp in reading, deciphering coverages and his option routes based on voids in the defense.
Coach Andy Reid now has a proven playmaking receiver he isn’t forced to scheme open because Maclin has the skill set and speed to succeed on his own.
THE PRO BOWLER: LG BEN GRUBBS
The nine-year veteran, two-time Pro Bowl selection (2011, 2013), was a big addition for the Chiefs offensive line, and Grubbs would have been an ideal candidate for former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil’s 2003 offensive line.
Grubbs is very fluid in his movement, has a very good punch and plays with an intense attitude on the field. Grubbs wants to drive his opponent into the dirt on every play. He is a head hunter who is always looking for a defender to hit.
The former first-round pick has quick feet for his initial angles. Grubbs showcases his athleticism with his reach steps, scoop blocks and pulling out in space. The Auburn alumnus is capable of covering open space very quickly, and at 310 pounds has a good jolt with his punch in initial pass sets.
Grubbs rarely loses ground in pass protection, maintaining good balance for his size. The former Saint will occasionally let a defender get into his stance, but does a solid job re-anchoring and adjusting his hands inside the defenders frame work to force a stalemate.
He will occasionally get beat on his inside shoulder if the defender is a shade outside of him, and some defenders late in the season would slant across his face with a speed rush and attack his inside shoulder. Grubbs does a good job anticipating and passing off stunts without turning his back to create a rush lane for defenders.
Grubbs will also stick up for his team if a defender gets aggressive with his teammate after the whistle.
LOW RISK/MODERATE REWARD: SS TYVON BRANCH
The former Raider was asked to perform in two-deep coverage, single high and down in the box during his time in Oakland.
Branch typically performed the duties of a strong safety last season, and is a solid run defender and reliable tackler. When the former fourth-round pick comes up in run support, he has a solid breakdown and typical delivers a good pop at the defenders thighs pads. Most ball carriers do not bounce off a Branch tackle. The eight-year veteran is an aggressive downhill tackler, showcasing good speed when running in a straight line.
He struggles, however, at being able to rotate his hips and regain his explosiveness when changing direction. The Connecticut alumnus will bite on the bait routes in zone coverage and create a void. Branch struggles to get off blocks performed by offensive linemen and tight ends.
Branch excels at covering tight ends on crossing routes across the middle or down the seam when lined up in man coverage. Branch can provide the Chiefs a solid spur defender against the run and covering tight ends.
THE WILDCARD: RG PAUL FANAIKA
Fanaika is a former 2009 seventh-round pick from the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia. The most noticeable trait in Fanaika’s game is his ability to pick up and pass off stunts in pass protection.
The former walk-on at Arizona State does a good job of consistently scanning the field to find the next potential threat to their pocket protection. He will also earhole a defender and plant them into the ground if the defender attempts to cross his inside shoulder.
Fanaika does a satisfactory job of working his defender around the spot, but excels in combination blocks. He does a good job of turning the defender, so his teammate can reach him and Fanaika can go head hunting at the second level. He would be better served to drop a little bit of weight to help in the fluidity of his pulls.
Fanaika’s pad level will get high on rushers one to two shades over. His kick step isn’t quick enough at the moment to cover the ground comfortably. Defenders take advantage of that by getting into his chest with a bull rush once his pad level gets his and put him on skates.
Once Fanaika is overwhelmed, he will grab the defenders shoulder pads instead of attempting to deliver a punch. The coaching staff will need to work with him on improving his reanchor when taking on a bull rush from a shade or two over.
He does a very good job of attempting to gain leverage when in a stalemate at the line of scrimmage. Fanaika showcases impressive strength when he has good technique and maintains his defender 5 to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.