The NFL Draft is looming closer and closer each day. While fans will have to wait for wait for quite a while before the Chiefs are on the clock at pick 54, the team has plenty of selections and could be prime candidates to make trades up or down. The question is, what should the Chiefs be focusing on? I’ll take a round by round breakdown approach while evaluating the roster by position.
The Chiefs need to come away from this draft with two more corners to come in and provide depth and push the starters. While Kendall Fuller, David Amerson and Steven Nelson might not be worst trio in the league, they are in the bottom half. While there are quite a few bodies at the position, there is no proven commodity and not much left in free agency.
Mitch Morse hasn’t been able to stay healthy and he hasn’t shown much after a strong start as a rookie. He’s going into the final year of his rookie deal. He’ll either continue to be an injury issue and be replaced next year, or, he’ll bounce back and probably be too expensive to resign, a la Rodney Hudson and Zach Fulton before him. Jordan Devey seems like he’s the backup to Morse, or possibly Cameron Erving, who played center in college. Does anybody feel good about this? I didn’t think so. While it may not be sexy, if there’s a center in this draft that the Chiefs think can start day one, addressing this need here would not be a bad idea.
Justin Houston is still an effective player, but he seems to be past his prime. Dee Ford is in the last year of his contract and has been wildly inconsistent. Frank Zombo might be better used on the inside, as his pass rush skills aren’t great. Tanoh Kpassagnon could develop, but I’m not quite convinced that he isn’t better suited to play DE. Dadi Nicolas is a dark horse who missed last season after getting injured in the playoffs the year before. The Chiefs simply have to find a way to generate a pass rush and this draft is not deep in edge rush talent unfortunately. If there’s a player that the Chiefs think can pick up sacks right away at pick 54, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab him and fill other needs later.
While Travis Kelce is the best in the business, Demetrius Harris hasn’t developed into the weapon the team was hoping he might. Also, an off season arrest doesn’t help his cause either. Brett Veach flirted with the idea of signing 37 year old Ben Watson to pair with Kelce. They have taken a flier on Jace Amaro and Tim Wright, so they have some experienced competition for Harris instead of more converted basketball players. Even with those two in the mix, I think this is a position that might get drafted earlier than people think in KC. I was tempted to put this position in round 2 but there are other more pressing needs.
Parker Ehinger wasn’t able to get healthy enough to reclaim his starting job at LG he lost after getting injured his rookie year. Bryan Witzmann was not good at LG and needs competition. Devey factors in here, as well Erving. Bottom line, the interior of the line needs some reinforcements.
With Bennie Logan departing to Tennessee, the Chiefs are left with newly signed Xavier Williams and a lot of unproven players behind him. I doubt Rakeem Nunez-Roches is big enough to hold up as a full time NT and Williams isn’t much of a pass rusher. While the Chiefs rotate their linemen around depending on the formation, a big guy in the middle that can occupy multiple blockers would be very helpful. Williams can be a bridge guy this year. They need a player with higher upside to start working into the rotation as the year goes on.
Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins should form an explosive duo, but how much do they have behind them? Chris Conley has been just ok as a starter and suffered a season ending injury during the season last year. De’Anthony Thomas was retained, but he’s too small to play extended snaps. Jehu Chiasson and DeMarcus Robinson are still young and developing, along with holdovers from last year’s practice squad Marcus Kemp and Gehrig Dieter. Speed is going to be the key with this unit due to the massive arm talent of Pat Mahomes, so look for the Chiefs to nab a speedy player if there is good value on day 3.
Eric Berry will be back, along with Eric Murray and Daniel Sorensen. That’s not a bad trio, but similar to CB, the Chiefs need to make sure they have depth. Leon McQuay is a holdover from last year’s draft and Robert Golden was added in free agency, but a late round pick on another option at this position wouldn’t be a bad idea so long as other needs are addressed first.
Chris Jones is an ascending star, but Allen Bailey is in the last year of his deal and likely, his last season in Kansas City. Nunez-Roches and Kpassagnon will be part of the rotation, and veteran Jarvis Jenkins was retained for depth, but the bottom line is, this team didn’t defend the run well, and it’s more on the shoulders of this unit than it was the linebackers.
Round 7 only
The remaining positions probably shouldn’t be drafted by the Chiefs. The only event using a pick on any of these spots is worth is if it is too great of a value to pass up. These positions really should only be addressed with the undrafted rookie signings instead of an actual draft selection.
The Chiefs are set with Mahomes as the starter and Chad Henne as the backup. The signing of veteran backup Matt McGloin likely signaled the end of the likelihood KC adds a QB in the draft. There’s no need to develop one this year. This year is all about Mahomes. Maybe next year if Mahomes struggles.
The Chiefs return their entire RB corps from last year, led by Kareem Hunt, and backed by Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Akeem Hunt and Anthony Sherman. Added to the mix are veteran free agent signings Damien Williams and Kerwynn Williams, completely eliminating any need to draft another runner.
Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are entrenched as the bookend tackles and the team still seems to like Bryan Witzmann, who was mediocre at best as a fill-in LG last season. The versatile Erving factors in here as depth also, but finding a high ceiling project late in the draft would be fine by me.
Adding Anthony Hitchens in free agency was pricey, but necessary. It also means that the Chiefs have no real need at this spot anymore. He will make a good pairing with ascending Reggie Ragland. Ukeme Eligwe looks to be the top backup currently. He flashed enough potential in the preseason last year that he deserves a long look this year. Special teams player Terrance Smith is still here as well. Shifting Zombo inside would likely help with depth at this spot and possibly extend his career a year or two. At the end of the day, the Chiefs need depth competition here, but they can address it with undrafted players.
Round 2 – CB, C, OLB
Round 3 – CB, C, OLB, TE, OG, NT
Round 4 – CB, C, OLB, TE, OG, NT
Round 6 – CB, C, OLB, TE, OG, NT, WR, S
Round 7 – anything but a QB, RB, ILB, PK, P, LS