From the FanPosts -Joel
For the third evaluation of the series, I’m looking at other options for the Kansas City Chiefs 23rd pick. For those who missed the previous posts, you can see the first one on wide receivers here and the second one on safeties here ...
Again, we’re looking at potential draft choices on the first two days of the 2014 draft under the premise that you can get starters all the way down in the third round like Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston. This type of analysis cannot represent instincts or experience because this is a "could do" versus "does do" distinction.
Round 1 - No. 23
Here we will look at players available with the 23rd pick that are outside of the primary needs of wide receiver and safety. If Chiefs GM John Dorsey’s preferred targets for those positions are off the board, these options are more than impressive. The fact is that Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will likely be gone. Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham could be as well. I feel like Kelvin Benjamin is going to slide down into the mid-to-late second round (where he would be a great "upside" pick)
Most GMs and coaches believe that, after the quarterbacks, the edge pass rushers are the most impactful players on the field. They are primary force for the defense and are often hard to come by. The offensive line is always a good place to invest draft picks in a high caliber, long-term player.
The following players will likely be unavailable if the Chiefs trade down from No. 23. They are the best bet to impact the roster if the WR / FS selections John Dorsey wants are not there at No. 23.
The pass rushers
The graph below shows the explosion rankings for the top nine potential outside linebacker prospects in addition to all three of the Chiefs 2013 Pro Bowl linebackers from 2013.
He has very good pass rush skills. In 2013, he got six sacks but an incredible 22.5 tackles for loss. He can get to the quarterback from the edge and he can play behind a nose tackle and be a tackle machine as he was in 2013 with 143 tackles (see Wisconsin tape).
His game reminds me of Derrick Johnson; he beats blockers with knifing agility and explosion to get behind the line of scrimmage and make plays. He blitzes the one gap with speed and often on delay. Now, he’s only 6’1 and does not punch and take on and shed blocks well. That will need to be corrected at the NFL level with more upper body strength and a lot more controlled aggression. Also like DJ, he plays best in zone coverage. If you can be coached to play man coverage and uses explosive athleticism, he could become the fourth Pro bowl linebacker on this roster.
Related: Getting defensive with Ryan Shazier
As you can see above, he is the most explosive athlete rated for this draft. In fact, if selected, he would be the most explosive athlete on the Chiefs roster other than Eric Berry. His explosion and speed give him excellent range, including not only the ability to run sideline to sideline, but to cover tight ends like Julius Thomas and LaDarius Green down the seam. His Explosive Range rating is better than any top tier wide receiver or defensive back. In fact, he ran the same 40-yard dash time is Jamaal Charles at 4.38. He should be able to handle running backs on wheel routes, etc.
He seems to be viewed as a tweener, too small to rush outside as a down defensive end and too weak at the point of attack to play inside linebacker. If drafted he could provide a much needed third pass rusher behind Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, both of whom missed games due to injury in 2013. He likely wouldn't be able to break into the starting lineup, but I see two scenarios that use his explosion and skills and would limit his exposure to directly taking on blocks:
- I would like to see all three of them on the field at the same time, standing up; making a four-man front with Dontari Poe as the only down lineman, with DJ and Berry lined up behind them.
- Joe Mays is a two-down run-stuffing linebacker. Shazier can be the second nickel linebacker next to DJ, giving Berry more freedom to roam. He would be able to rush the passer or cover from that position. That could put him on the field early and often in his rookie year and make the pick pay off.
He would then be able to develop the strength and the technique to better take on blocks and shed. Two years later, he could start at inside linebacker or left outside linebacker with Houston moving to right outside linebacker, the same way Hali moved over when Jared Allen was traded. I don't think he'll ever beat left tackles consistently, but he could be a force on the other side.
It’s possible he could fall to the No. 23 spot, though his stock seems to be rising. He would be a straightforward understudy / replacement for Tamba Hali.
He is arguably the best pass rusher in this draft as either 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. He did play from a two-point stance in college but he was not asked to drop in coverage very often. Even though he's inexperienced in dropping into coverage, he is likely an upgrade over Hali.
He is an explosive athlete in the top eight in both the explosion rating and the short area quickness rating amongst defensive linemen. He outscores Hali by 7.190 in the Explosion rating and is known for a great work ethic. But his athleticism in space does not compare to Houston or DJ.
Solidify the offensive line
Yes, three quality offensive linemen were lost in free agency. Luckily, two of them played the same position at right guard. Jeff Allen is solid and can man the left side or may be able to flip to the right side. That would allow a tackle to move inside.
Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan will be long gone. There is one more o-lineman that can compete with them physically: Nevada’s Joel Bitonio.
He has been successful at left tackle in the NCAA, but seems to need to improve his strength and his anchor. He can play left tackle in a pinch and he could end up being a very good right tackle, but he could be in All-Pro guard.
Bitonio is the most explosive offensive lineman available according to my explosion rating. He can get to the second level of the defense. He is in the top five of the class in the following metrics and vastly superior to both Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz, who were lost in free agency (Top five in explosion, SA quickness; top 10 in 10-yard, 40-yard; second in vertical, broad jump; third in 3-cone, short shuttle)
He also has the second most explosive range of the available offensive linemen (fractionally behind Taylor Lewan). This gives him great range as a guard to pull and block downfield on counters and screens. Jamaal Charles will be very happy to have an athlete like him blocking out-front on screen passes.
In moving inside to guard, he has the second best short area quickness rating of any available lineman. That ability will help reduce his vulnerabilities as he builds strength the first year or two. Against four-man fronts he will also have center help.
The Magic Falling QB
I can’t tell you anything new you haven’t ready heard or read about this quarterback. You either like him or you don’t. But I will say this, generally any quarterback not taken in the first 15 picks should be left to fall to the fourth round. I know the "experts" are saying he doesn't get out of the top 10, but I am not convinced. Three of the teams reportedly considering a quarterback have either a new GM or a new head coach. I don't see them taking over the top risks.
With the number of teams that must improve their quarterback play, if Manziel falls to the 23rd pick, he could be a value despite the inconsistencies and physical traits, which are most likely what caused him to fall out of the top 10. He could learn behind Alex Smith or he could even be a "pick and trade-to-the-highest-bidder" selection that could net additional draft picks for the Chiefs.
Day 2 - Build the Roster
This is the crucial day of the 2014 draft. Yes, this draft is deep. Yes, there are a lot of good players available. But you can’t get complacent. This is the day you have to get them. There will be 10 to 12 players picked in the second round of 2014 that would have been first rounders in any of the last five drafts. You can get quality starters with every one of the picks taken on the second day of the 2014 draft. The fourth and fifth round will also be better than average year.
Next Wednesday night, one night before the draft, I will go over some of draft scenarios in the final post of this series. Knowing that a contract logjam is coming for the Chiefs in the next few years, a trade to acquire second day picks in 2014 is essential for long-term success in building this roster. The overall goal should to be in position to draft as many of the following players as possible, as well as the above players falling down in the second round.
Free safety / Defensive back
Terrence Brooks, Keith McGill and DBs. I talked through what these two have to offer in an earlier post, so I won’t dwell. But getting one of them is important. McGill will likely go first because he can play cornerback as well as free safety. If the Chiefs want him, they will likely need a mid second round pick. Brooks will last longer but its iffy to think he’ll still be on the board at No. 87. I would pull out the stops to be able to select him in the top half of the third round.
Walt Aikens and Brock Vereen are other free safety options, who should last into day three, but could be considered at No. 87 as a slight reach.
Dorsey does seem to love the big cornerbacks. Stanley Jean-Baptiste looks like he will be selected on the second day. He would a selection preparing for a future contract impasse with either Sean Smith or Brandon Flowers. A second round pick is probably required to get him though.
Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant and Cody Latimer. In an earlier post, I showed the top-rated wide receiver in terms of their Explosion and Explosive range. In terms of the need for a deep-threat speed wide receiver, Odell Beckham was the top of the group.
However there are a number of players in the second tier, who are less polished at the position but who or more or comparable explosive and explosive range. The table showcases these three receivers. They will likely have a steeper learning curve, but have the physical tools to be just as much of a deep threat as Beckham. Moncrief and Bryant are easily worth taking at No. 87.
And there is one more receiver, likely the third day selection, that is toe to toe with this group. He will be in the pre-draft post next week.
Stephon Tuitt and Ra’shede Hageman both have the strengths that allow them to play as a 3-4 5-tech. Both are 6’5 and 300-plus pounds. Both play with punch and upper body strength.
However, they both have problems with effort and consistently holding their ground, which is imperative for the 5-tech. I would not consider either of these players as an option at No. 23 but like them both on day two.
Offensive line options
There are a number of quality o-linemen that will be available on day two. Though not as explosive as Bitonio, there are several guards and tackles that are second tier but still as athletic as the three departed o-linemen. Guards David Yankey and Gabe Jackson and tackles JaWuan James and Billy Turner are all good options for the right guard / swing tackle spots. And all are athletic upgrades over the departed Schwartz.
If John Dorsey stands pat or tries and fails to pull at trade off prior to Friday evening, the results should fill a hole at either receiver or safety, or possibly both.
But if a trade can be had, the depth of this draft could the provide roster with talent across the board.
The final post of the series will be up next Wednesday night, 24 hours before the draft.