To say that the Chiefs had injury problems last year would be an understatement. The Chiefs lost 3 of their best young players, all of whom had torn ACL’s by week 2. Jamal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry were all lost for the season to the same injury, which was a huge blow to the team. Somehow the team managed to stay relevant until week 16. In between those injuries and week 16, the Chiefs also fired their head coach Todd Haley and starting quarterback Matt Cassel went down with a hand injury. It was not exactly the type of year you expect coming off of a division title and playoff appearance.
Now this 2012 season ushers in a new era. Beloved defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel now takes over as head coach and Brian Daboll comes over from Miami to be the new offensive coordinator. The Chiefs had a solid offseason, while they lost free agent corner Brandon Carr, they gained much more. The signings of Eric Winston, Peyton Hillis, Kevin Boss and Stanford Routt were a welcome splash that many fans didn’t expect. The Chiefs have put themselves in position to make another run at the division title and are in a position for this week’s draft to go after the best available players and not necessarily address specific needs.
An area of weakness last year was the run defense. Finishing 26th in the NFL in defending the ground attack, the Chiefs lacked that inside push that is necessary in stuffing the line of scrimmage. Much of that can be attributed to our lack of depth and talent at the nose tackle position. Kelly Gregg is contemplating retirement and Jerrel Powe is a project. Although there is a need at that position, the Chiefs have been burnt badly in the past with drafting defensive lineman in the first round. I don’t see a defensive tackle that Kansas City is looking for that would be worth the first round pick and would like to address that in later rounds.
The other way to sure up the run defense is inside linebacker. Luke Kuechly looks like he would be worth the 11th overall pick. Kuechly recorded 532 tackles in just 3 seasons, averaging 14 a game. He is one of the youngest players in this draft having just turned 21 a few days ago. Kuechly has a great combination of size, speed and instincts that make up a great linebacker. He is over 6’3 and put on a few pounds after this last season and is around 242. At that size he ran a 4.5 40 and recorded a 38 inch vertical, 3rd best among linebackers. At Boston College he was not asked to rush the passer, he was there to plug the gap, make the tackle and drop into coverage more. There haven’t been any red flags raised about his character and seems like he would be a low risk, high reward pick at eleven. NFL comparison would be Sean Lee.
If the Chiefs don’t go with Kuechly or maybe he goes a little higher than projected and is not available, I see the Chiefs going to the opposite side of the ball. Stanford guard David DeCastro, who has been praised as the best interior lineman in the 2012 draft, but also possesses enough versatility to be able to play all 5 spots on the line would be a good pick. DeCastro gave up 1 sack in 3 years as a starter and has the right mentality to succeed in the NFL.
DeCastro’s quarterback, number one overall pick Andrew Luck had high praise for the lineman who has been protecting him for 3 years. “He is so serious he sometimes thinks a high five after a touchdown is too frivolous because it might break concentration,” Luck said.
Both in my mind would be great picks for Kansas City, but that’s the beauty of the NFL draft, nobody knows exactly how things will fall until they do. I could see the Chiefs trading down if some team is looking to get up to grab a player they must have and I would fully support that move with all the talent that will be going off the board in the first three rounds.
Sleeper picks for the Chiefs in 1st round: Michael Brockers DT LSU and Michael Floyd WR ND
Thanks to the information age, if any little thing comes up about one of these guys waiting to get drafted it could make it around the internet in a matter of minutes and cause that player to drop a few rounds. Look at Justin Houston last year, who was projected as a first round pick and then it came out he tested positive for marijuana and he fell into our laps in the third round. Houston went on to record 70 tackles and 5.5 sacks, great production from a 3rd round pick.
I bring this up because the guy I want in the second round would be a first round talent and might be for my money the best cover corner in this draft, if it were not for his troubled past. I’m referring to Janoris Jenkins, who started at Florida and then was dismissed and went to North Alabama for a year. I can remember watching Jenkins as a freshman at Florida and he had pro written all over him back then. Jenkins runs a 4.4 and while at Florida held two top ten picks from last year in AJ Green and Julio Jones to 38 yards a game.
Even with brining in Stanford Routt to replace Carr, with Peyton Manning coming to the AFC West, the Chiefs need to have a deep secondary and if one of our corners went down or Routt were to struggle Jenkins could step in right away. Jenkins could also contribute as a nickel guy and would be a big addition to the special teams unit. As you can probably pick up, I am a huge Jenkins fan and I firmly believe if he keeps his off field issues in check, he will appear in multiple pro bowls.
Sleeper pick for Chiefs in 2nd round: Kirk Cousins QB Mich St.
Rounds 3-7 to follow shortly.