Kareem Hunt stole all the headlines last year en route to leading the NFL in rushing his rookie season. Patrick Mahomes is in the spotlight all year this year as he takes over the team after the trade of Alex Smith. Outside of these two however, very little has been said about the other four players the Chiefs selected in last year’s draft. While none of them made much of an impact in 2017, all four have a real shot at significant increases in playing time in 2018 now that they have a year under their respective belts. Let’s take a look at the less-talked about players from the class.
DE/OLB Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova (2nd round)
I was excited when the Chiefs made this selection, but also realized that Chiefs used their top two picks on players that likely would not play much in 2017. Kpassagnon was extremely raw as a player coming out of college, but had (and still has) all of the upside in the world. He flashed some potential, along with 1st round counterpart Mahomes, in week 17 against the Broncos in Denver. With Tamba Hali not returning and Dee Ford in a contract year, Kpassagnon should see more snaps in 2018, which hopefully translates into big plays.
WR Jehu Chesson, Michigan (4th round)
Chesson barely saw the field as a rookie, but the departure of Albert Wilson in free agency opens up the door for Chesson to see more time in 2018. Outside of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs don’t have a sure-fire answer at the position. DeMarcus Robinson and Chris Conley are still here, but neither has shown themselves to be better than being the #4 or #5 WR on the depth chart. If Chesson can fight his way past those two, then he could see significant playing time in year two.
ILB Ukeme Eligwe, Georgia Southern (5th round)
I’ll admit, he was the first player drafted in 2017 (pick 183 overall) that I had never heard of before. The transfer from Florida State showed promise in the preseason, as he racked up a lot of tackles and showed good side-to-side range. He ended up stuck behind several other players as a rookie, but now that Derrick Johnson, Ramik Wilson and Kevin Pierre-Louis are all former Chiefs, Eligwe has a shot at being the top backup ILB behind Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland, which means he’s one injury away from being out on the field for 80-90% of the defensive snaps.
FS Leon McQuay, USC (6th round)
McQuay is a tall, rangy FS who spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. With Eric Berry coming off an Achilles injury and Ron Parker released to save cap space, there could be some extra snaps to be had. While Eric Murray and Daniel Sorensen are first in line behind Berry for playing time, McQuay has a chance to factor in here as well. He’ll need to have a strong camp in order to progress his career.
Judging a draft class fairly probably shouldn’t happen until that class has been in the league for three seasons and this class could prove that point. The Chiefs got Kareem Hunt and nothing else really from their rookie class in 2017, but 2018 looks like it could be an entirely different story.