Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Breakout Player Projections

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Dec 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates a tackle against the Carolina Panthers in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 27-21. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs, fresh off of finishing with the worst record in the NFL, decided it was time for big changes all across the board in the organization. They let go of head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli, and they made a pretty bold trade for former number one overall pick Alex Smith at quarterback.

When you are talking about the three most important positions in a football organization, those are the clear top three in my opinion, and the Chiefs have new blood at every spot. New GM John Dorsey, head coach Andy Reid, and quarterback Alex Smith will try to take the Chiefs from worst to first in 2013, try to help this team realize the potential it is oozing with.

The Chiefs had six Pro Bowl players last year, and even though some people don’t put any stock into the Pro Bowl at all, that’s still an impressive number for a team with the worst record in the league. Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry–this is a team with a ton of solid building blocks so it’s pretty shocking that Matt Cassel, even Brady Quinn, couldn’t take them to a few quality wins.

Either way, Chiefs fans have pretty high expectations for 2013, even if they can’t catch the Broncos in the division. This is an organization and fan base that believes–maybe rightfully so–that they have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and all they needed was a quarterback to come in and make everything click. Well, Alex Smith has a tough task ahead of him. I think there’s more pressure on him than people think, but he was able to overcome said pressure in San Francisco after being labeled a bust for years before taking the Niners to the NFC Title game.

Smith is going to need some help in KC. Here are three players–one from each of the last three draft classes–that could have a big breakout season for the Chiefs in 2013.

Third Year — Justin Houston, OLB

I wanted so badly to put former first round pick Jonathan Baldwin in this slot, and there’s no question he is a candidate to break out if he wins the second starting receiver spot. However, Baldwin has already seemingly fallen out of favor with the coaching staff in Kansas City, despite running with the starters at OTAs. He’s been described as having a lackadaisical approach to practice, and there were reports earlier this offseason that Andy Reid was not high on Baldwin.

That being said, I think Justin Houston is set for a monster season. The inconsistency he had last year was pretty astounding, but he had 10 sacks in his sophomore season out of Georgia, and the guy who was once considered a first round prospect that fell in the draft because of drugs is now playing like so many thought he could.

The season ended on a sour note last year for Houston, with just one sack in the team’s final five games, but he has a chance to be a star pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali in the Chiefs’ defense. If he can consistently bring it this season, you could be looking at the next 15 sack player in the NFL. He had 10 sacks this past season, but he also went 10 games without a sack. That’s a pretty remarkable figure right there and I don’t think he’s going to have 0 sacks in 10 games this season unless he is bitten by the injury bug.

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