Last April, Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey turned in two specific draft cards that significantly shaped the team's season. Both defensive tackle Chris Jones (2nd round pick) and do-it-all Tyreek Hill (5th round) have earned rave reviews as rookies and will likely make their first Pro Bowl this season.
What's lost in all of this is that this year's draft class doesn't (yet) compare with last year's haul. On a team as deep as this year's Chiefs roster, it's amazing how many players are earning significant reps and making serious impact who were picked as part of the 2015 NFL Draft.
In case you need a reminder, a good draft class will net a team two starters and a great class will include some contributors as well. Here's part of the reason why John Dorsey is the most underrated GM in the NFL:
Marcus Peters, CB, 1st
A home run from the start. Pre-draft character concerns caused Peters' stock to tumble right into Dorsey's lap, who selected Peters at No. 18 overall and never looked back. He's matured plenty in his risk-taking and overall approach in year two and his combination of athleticism and instincts are second-to-none. Arguably the best young cornerback in the NFL.
Mitch Morse, OL, 2nd
A surprise (and often maligned) pick in the second round became a fan favorite at the end of his rookie season. The former Mizzou lineman came into Chiefs training camp having played all over the line but settled quickly into center, earning rave reviews from Pro Football Focus. Despite concussion issues from his rookie season, Morse has anchored the middle all year for the Chiefs, has improved considerably after a slow start this year, and should be a mainstay for the foreseeable future.
Chris Conley, WR, 3rd
Conley's rookie season was largely about learning the team's playbook with a scant 17 catches for 199 yards, This year, however, Conley bested Albert Wilson for the starting role opposite Jeremy Maclin and finished the regular season with 44 catches for 530 yards. He'd likely have better stats if not for Tyreek Hill's emergence but Conley certainly looks like a dependable, speedy receiver going forward. Another solid starter for Dorsey, who is three for three so far.
Steven Nelson, CB, 3rd
Did anyone see this coming? After an offseason where the Chiefs watched CB Sean Smith leave for the Oakland Raiders in free agency, it was easy to be nervous about the state of the secondary. Philip Gaines was returning from injury and Nelson, well, who knew what he could bring? Nelson had only suited up in 12 games his rookie year and played only special teams.
Fast forward one year and Nelson has not only played in 96 percent of the Chiefs defensive snaps, he's played the nickel role as well as anyone could have hoped. Nelson has 64 tackles and 16 passes defended, good for 9th overall in the NFL. Given this is his first full year getting experience, it's safe to expect Nelson to get better in the future.
Ramik Wilson, LB, 4th
Is there a player with a better story than Ramik Wilson this year? Last season, Wilson played in 11 games and even started two but he'd clearly lost his place on the roster when he was surprisingly waived in October. The absence was only two days before the Chiefs had signed him to the practice squad, but since that moment, he's been Denzel-ish as a Man on Fire in the middle, helping to ease the losses of Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga. In 11 starts this year, he has 76 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.
D.J. Alexander, LB, 5th
Every year, John Dorsey wraps one draft pick all nice and neat and bestows it upon special teams coach/genius Dave Toub. This year, Eric Murray was that pick, but last season it was Alexander. For the last two years, Alexander has earned league-wide notice for his special teams play, including the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award during the final week of the 2015 season. This year? He was recently named a Pro Bowl alternate. While not a starter, Dorsey earns points for another special teams find.
James O'Shaughnessy, TE, 5th
Until now, every one of Dorsey's six draft picks have earned significant impact or at least playing time. Still, Shags remains a special teams contributor and the team's third tight end option in his second season. Despite playing in all 16 games, O'Shaughnessy was targeted only three times all season long and his final stat line of two catches for -1 yards (yep, negative yardage). Not nearly as exciting as the others until you realize the first seven picks are still on the active roster.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL, 6th
Fortunately no one else claimed him. Earlier this year, Nunez-Roches found himself on the waiver wire, the result of the team's incredible depth at DL than any statement about RNR's potential or talent. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, injuries to Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard tested that depth and the team re-signed Nunez-Roches for the stretch run. Given the second opportunity, RNR has allowed his incredible motor to take over in the middle. With 14 tackles and one sack over his five starts, he's filled in admirably for the Chiefs and the team will need him to continue to do so for their playoff run.
Da'Ron Brown, WR, 7th
Brown sat on the Chiefs practice squad for his entire rookie season, and he's played musical chairs this year on other practice squads across the NFL. He began the year with the New England Patriots, spent a week with the New York Giants and landed with the Miami Dolphins in December.
Taking in the entire picture, eight of John Dorsey's nine picks are still with the team. Six of them are current starters. Two more are special teams contributors (including one Pro Bowl alternate). From All Pros to solid starters, the Chiefs 2015 draft haul is the sort of dream scenario for any general manager. For Dorsey, we're learning it's just another typical rookie crop.