The new format of the draft has given teams and analysts a lot more time in between rounds to do more research on who will be available. Obviously, until they are actually selected off the big board, we won’t know who exactly is available. But thanks to all the information and public scouting, it is fairly easy to predict where players will come off. People have been watching the young draft guru, Todd McShay and the old school draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. debate back and forth about whose mock draft is better on ESPN. Everyone seems to have an opinion this time of year and likes to pretend they are a general manager. So I’m going to take this opportunity to share mine with you. So here is a three round analysis of who I hope is available and who I think would be a great fit for the Kansas City Chiefs. After these rounds I will discuss rounds 4-7 in my last part of this draft preview.
The players that will be analyzed are people whom I feel would be a good value at where we are picking and be a positive fit into our current roster and needs.
With the 21st overall pick, the Chiefs have a couple different ways they could go. They could decide to go offense, most likely lineman who will be available and be a good value with that pick. Three guys to watch at that position are: Mike Pouncey, 6’5″ 303 lbs, G from Florida; Gabe Carimi, 6’7″ T from Wisconsin; and Nate Solder, 6’8″ T from Colorado. My pick from that group: Carimi.
The one position this draft is loaded with first round caliber talent is defensive end. The Chiefs could use a guy who could play up as a linebacker, fall into coverage and every once in a while put his hands on the ground and rush the passer from the edge. The league seems to be seeing more of this hybrid type player DE/LB succeed. There is such depth at this position, but here are a few I would definitely not mind watching put on a Chiefs uniform: Ryan Kerrigan, DE from Purdue, ran a 4.67 40 and I feel he would be a good fit in the chiefs 3-4 system; problem is he may not be there. One guy who started on the top of a lot of draft boards whose stock has probably dropped more than anyone since the evaluation period is Da’Quan Bowers, DE from Clemson. His potential could possibly make him a steal at the 21 slot and would be a tough decision for the Chiefs to have to pass up, if on the board. My last guy to look for here is Brooks Reed, LB from Arizona. Contrary to Bowers, the guy whose stock might have raised the most is Reed. He is an athletic guy, high character Pioli-style player, who has a high motor and I could see being a really productive player for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs hold the 55th overall pick in the second round. My gut tells me that we will probably go offensive line – due to lack of depth on the current roster – with that 21st pick; so we will address another glaring need for the Chiefs: a compliment receiver to Dwayne Bowe. I like going receiver with this pick, because there are some really talented guys that could come in and play at a very high level. I think the only reason the Chiefs don’t go receiver with this pick is if somebody else at another position falls and the value is too good to pass up and they draft the best player available. Here are the wide outs that I would target with this 55th pick:
Jon Baldwin, (6’4″, 228 lbs.) a big receiver that is fast for his size and seemed to have a knack for getting open in college. I watched Baldwin quite a bit at Pitt, and it seemed like any time they needed a big first down, Baldwin was able to create and make the big play. His size and athleticism are what tells me he will be a solid receiver in the NFL.
Leonard Hankerson (6’2″, 209 lbs.), another receiver with decent size and 4.4 speed that comes out of the University of Miami would be a good fit. The thing a lot of people don’t know about Leonard is that he put up better numbers then all of those guys that the U has produced, including Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson to name a few.
Randall Cobb (5’10″, 191 lbs.), a smaller receiver out of Kentucky that was a do-it-all-guy who started out as a quarterback; so obviously the first person that comes to mind in trying to find a comparison is probably Antwan Randle El. I think that is a fair comparison and a lot of scouts are high on this guy, but I would be a little disappointed if the Chiefs pulled the trigger here. Too similar to Dexter McCluster who we picked last year in the second round.
My pick: Hankerson. Sleeper pick: Greg Little (6’3″, 231 lbs.), another big receiver from North Carolina. Little didn’t play last year as one of the big prospects who were suspended off the UNC team for improper benefits. Little is an absolute freak in the weight room and put up 27 reps of 225 lbs. That is unheard of from a receiver. Scouts would probably say that this might be a little high for Little, but I’m interested to see where he goes and would love to see him in red and yellow.
So Assuming we go offensive line and wide receiver with the first two picks, I will assume that a defensive player is selected at the 86th overall pick in the third round. Nose tackle is a gaping concern, no pun intended, but the Chiefs really have little to no depth at the position that some argue can be the most valuable against the run. When playing in the AFC West, you have to be able to stop the run.
Kenrick Ellis (6′ 5″, 346 lbs.) DT from Hampton, is a guy who has been on the Chiefs’ radar throughout this evaluation period. They see him as a big body guy to come in and shore-up the middle of the 3-4. I have to be honest here, I obviously didn’t see any Hampton football this year so I have never seen this guy play, but I would trust Pioli if he went there.
Sam Acho (6’2″, 262 lbs.) LB from Texas. Now contrary to Hampton football, I did manage to catch a few Longhorns games and every time I saw the Horns defense on the field Sam Acho was a beast and flew all around the place to stop the run. Very impressive guy who I think is underrated in this draft.
Jurrell Casey (6’1″ 300 lbs.) DT from USC. Casey is a guy who I’ve read in a few years when they analyze this draft, might be picked in the top 20 if they were able to redraft. So, if he were to reach his potential this could be a great value pick at 86, but a little undersized.
Casey Mathews (6’1″ 231 lbs.) LB from Oregeon – brother of Clay and son of Bruce – has the pedigree and work ethic that I could really see Pioli liking. He lacks a little size, but I feel could make up for with instinct for the ball.
My pick: Sam Acho. Sleeper pick: Chimdi Chekwa 6-1 CB from Ohio State, who ran a 4.39 and had an excellent career with the Buckeyes.
These are the guys that I would like to see the Chiefs target in the first couple days. Obviously guys are going to be taken higher than some expected and some talented guys will fall possibly forcing certain decisions, but these are the picks I would be happy with as a fan. After these rounds are over I will explore rounds 4-7.