- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Perhaps no team in the NFL has needed the minicamp and OTA season more than the Kansas City Chiefs.
This team will be a work in progress all season. Yes, the season starts in May and will likely end in December for the Chiefs.
Thanks to a potentially strong draft class, Kansas City will be a team to watch in the coming years. But it may be too much to expect the Chiefs to be a contender or to even finish .500 in 2008. This season, no doubt, will be all about a youth moment in Kansas City and it began in the minicamp season.
What we learned from minicamp
Youth will be served. The Chiefs are going young and the young are going to play now. Several young players stood out in the minicamp season.
Brodie Croyle and Herm Edwards talk about Croyle's adjustment to the new offense in Kansas City.
Most notably are the Chiefs' top draft picks. The team dealt defensive end Jared Allen, its best player, for a cache of draft choices, and is excited about several of the 2008 picks. It all starts with first-round choices Glenn Dorsey (the defensive tackle from LSU who was the No. 5 pick) and Branden Albert (the left tackle from Virginia was the No. 15 pick). Dorsey was widely considered a top-three player on most boards and Albert was considered one of the best offensive line players in the draft. Both should make an impact as rookies.
Dorsey and Albert will be instant starters. Other players who are leaving the minicamp season expected to make contributions include second-round pick Brandon Flowers, third-round pick Jamaal Charles, third-round pick DaJuan Morgan and fourth-round pck Will Franklin, who could challenge for a starting spot opposite No. 1 receiver Dwayne Bowe, a second-year player.
The Chiefs still don't know if Brodie Croyle can be their quarterback of the future or if he can even be the quarterback of this season for that matter. While the Chiefs are committed to their youth movement, it is still unclear if Croyle will be part of the mix. However, the team is committed to giving the third-year player the first crack at the job.
Croyle, who finished last season as the starter, lost the starting job to Damon Huard during camp last season. But he earned praise during the recent minicamps. Both Bowe and coach Herman Edwards said Croyle was full of confidence and showed a good grasp of the offense.
Some observers believe Tyler Thigpen will push Croyle. The quarterback job will be Croyle's if he performs well, but it is surely the biggest unknown heading into training camp and it will be one of the most closely watched stories in the AFC West in the preseason.
The most closely watched injured player in Kansas City is clearly running back Larry Johnson. The Chiefs departed the minicamp season feeling good about Johnson. He tested his broken right foot, which caused him to miss the final eight games of 2007, during camps and reported no pain. The team was satisfied with what it saw in Johnson. He'll likely be ready to go during training camp and although Charles will get some looks, Johnson, 28, looks to be well on his way to total recovery.
The hot seat
Many league observers believe both Edwards and general manager Carl Peterson are on the hot seat. If Peterson, who has been the Chiefs' general manager since 1989, is, so is Edwards. The two are close and are a package deal. Also, whenever a new GM is brought in, the existing coach is often in trouble.
But are Peterson and Edwards really in trouble? The Chiefs did a good job drafting and this is a young roster. Miracles aren't expected. Peterson and Edwards should be safe unless absolutely zero progress is made this season.
Training camp start date: July 25.
Bill Williamson covers the NFL for ESPN.com.
A strong draft class has the Chiefs poised to contend in the future, but this season the team will struggle to stay above .500, writes Bill Williamson.