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NFL Draft: Grades, quotes, reactions to every Chiefs 2018 draft pick

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone, and with it, the Kansas City Chiefs added six new names to their roster. Despite three trade-ups, this draft didn’t feel as exciting as last year’s edition, when the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall.

But after last year, the defense needed to be improved, and general manager Brett Veach and the personnel staff, knowing that, nearly went all defense. The only offensive player Veach selected was Tennessee’s Kahlil McKenzie, and he played defensive tackle in college.

Chiefs 2018 draft selections

Round 2 - No. 46 - Mississippi LB Breeland Speaks, 6-3, 285 pounds

Round 3 - No. 75 - Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi, 6-1, 312 pounds

Round 3 - No. 100 - Clemson LB Dorian O’Daniel, 6-1, 223 pounds

Round 4 - No. 124 - Texas A&M S Armani Watts, 5-11, 202 pounds

Round 6 - No. 196 - Central Arkansas CB Tremon Smith, 6-0, 190 pounds

Round 6 - No. 198 - Tennessee G Kahlil McKenzie, 6-2, 314 pounds

Let’s get into what we know about each pick as of Monday morning:

Mississippi LB Breeland Speaks

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

One quote: Chiefs head coach Andy Reid

“I’ve watched every game that the kid played. I can’t tell you that I’ve done that with every player, that’s not what I’m doing. But he gives me a heads up on who to look at. This was one where he and I sat together and watched every snap. The thing that amazes me about him and you guys will go through and look at the tape yourself and have a chance to see him play, he was never on the ground. The way he used his hands, that combination of things. I thought was really something. Brett did all the studies on it, comparisons to people. So similar to Tamba (Hali) in his measurements, testing, all of these things. (Terrell) Suggs, (Calvin) Pace – these are guys that either Bob (Sutton) or Mike (Smith) have coached. He kind of fits right into that mold right there.”

Mike Mayock, NFL Network (full analysis here)

Good football player. Undervalued until tonight. Teams value his inside-out versatility. I think he can play base end but kick inside on interior sub-packages. He’s got some juice. He’s physical, he’s tough, he’s relentless

Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated (full analysis here)

Can he defend the run? At 283 pounds, Speaks has the size to be a base down player, though probably more from a one-gapping standpoint than two-gapping. Kansas City’s biggest problem has been its inability to stop the run, particularly out of nickel and dime packages, where teams pound the rock against them from three-receiver sets.

Grade: B

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (full analysis here)

Grade: C

This is a little high for him, but they do need pass-rush help. He had seven sacks last year and is an interesting prospect.

Adam Teicher, ESPN (full analysis here)

Speaks can play defensive end or outside linebacker, and coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs would look at him immediately at the latter position. In terms of size and position, Speaks is a lot like Tanoh Kpassagnon, the Chiefs’ second-round pick from 2017. This choice doesn’t bode well for Kpassagnon, who played little last season as a rookie. “What we think we’re getting here is a high-motor, very intense player ... we love his ability to play [against] the run and the pass,” Reid said. “He’s kind of done a little bit of everything for Mississippi.”

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride (full analysis here)

We made fun of the Raiders for trading back from 10 to 15 for pennies on the dollar. The Chiefs just significantly overpaid on the draft trade chart to move up for an athletic, but developmental interior defensive lineman. I’m not sure what scared the Chiefs into this decision. Maybe they were desperate to get rid of that third round selection that was scheduled to get free pizza for a year.

Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One quote: Chiefs general manager Brett Veach

“When you come back to pick 75 when Nnadi was on the board, we were looking at how the board was kind of working, and Nnadi had such a good value there and then there was another big gap, so we went up and got him. And then we felt like we were right on pace for that third pick, we were good. We just set the board, we believe in it.”

Mike Mayock, NFL Network (full analysis here)

I think he’s one of the best run defenders in all of college football. He had great eyes.

Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated (full analysis here)

Nnadi is a purer interior defensive lineman, which could give Kansas City the flexibility to play second-rounder Breeland Speaks outside, like Andy Reid has suggested they will.


Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (full analysis here)

Grade: C+

They take a run plugger to help up front. He will be a rotation player early.

Adam Teicher, ESPN (full analysis here)

The Chiefs continued to add to their defensive depth with the third-round selection of Nnadi. The Chiefs badly needed to add to their collection of linemen, so in that sense at least, Nnadi is a solid choice. The Chiefs haven’t drafted particularly well in recent years with regard to defensive players, so their roster was sparse at many spots on that side of the ball. The addition of Nnadi and Speaks gives the Chiefs a chance at having two more good, young defensive players.

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride (full analysis here)

This move is a clear indication that the Chiefs think they need to stop the run. Nnadi’s grade dropped for me because of poor athletic testing. He was a late third round grade on tape. For what he is, he’s a good player.

Clemson LB Dorian O’ Daniel

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

One quote: LB Dorian O’ Daniel

“You can imagine how I’m doing. I literally was shutting down my draft party. I had no idea. I was literally heading to the exit of the clubhouse and my phone started ringing and I was like this can’t be happening and then it was Kansas City. It was crazy because I met with Kansas City at the Combine and the energy and the vibe I felt wasn’t as strong in the moment. I got Kendall Fuller with me right now, we were best friends in high school and now we’re back together doing it. It’s live. I can’t even put it in words.”

Mike Mayock, NFL Network (full analysis here)

Kind of looks and runs like a safety. Undersized linebacker goes sideline to sideline. This is a good football player.

Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated (full analysis here)

Scouts loved his work on special teams, but you don’t generally draft a guy in the third round strictly on that merit. In their 3-4 style scheme (which is often structured like a 4-2 or a 5-1), do the Chiefs think O’Daniel, who weighs just 223 pounds, can play outside? Or will he transition to a stack linebacker role?


Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (full analysis here)

Grade: B

O’Daniel is a smallish linebacker who will be a special-teams standout. Needs to get stronger.

Adam Teicher, ESPN (full analysis here)

The Chiefs wanted in this draft to add to their collection of good, young defensive players. By drafting O’Daniel, they gave themselves a chance to add another such player. At 220 pounds, his most likely position is inside linebacker, but he’s unlikely to become an every-down player at that weight. He’ll have to put on some weight or switch to safety if he’s ever going to do that.

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride (full analysis)

O’Daniel will likely profile as more of a box safety role for the Chiefs unless they are making significant schematic changes. O’Daniel flashes the ability to click and close on plays behind the line of scrimmage out in the slot. He’s probably better seeing everything in front of him, allowing him to get down hill.

Texas A&M S Armani Watts

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One quote: Willie Davis, Watts’ scout

“If you watch film on this guy, you really notice the instincts. He is not the biggest kid, but he is instinctive, he knows where to be, he knows where to put players and he is a tough, tough kid. I think we got a really good football player.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (full analysis here)

Grade: A

Hyper active DB. Will make plays on the outside. Twitchy. Just lacks size.

Adam Teicher, ESPN (full analysis here)

The Chiefs’ attempt to remake their defense continues. Watts is their fourth defensive player in four picks, but their first defensive back. Safety was an obvious position of need. Eric Berry is returning after missing most of last year with a torn Achilles tendon, but the Chiefs released long-time starter Ron Parker.

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride

Armani Watts’ had a better grade before poor athletic testing. He’s got above average instincts and ball skills. He can play in a center field role and in the slot. There’s a lot to like to the skill set he adds to the Chiefs’ defense. Watts’ biggest issue is as a tackler. He has poor technique and seemed to be hesitant at times.

Central Arkansas CB Tremon Smith

NCAA Football: Central Arkansas at Kansas State
Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Isaiah Zuber (7) misses a catch against Central Arkansas Bears cornerback Tremon Smith (1) during a game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

One quote: Willie Davis, Smith’s scout

“I think so. I think that is where he is going to have to make his living at first because of the guys he has in front of him and the learning curve he is going to come in with. Being from a small school, he is going to have to come in. The stuff that we do here, he didn’t do at Central Arkansas. They run a lot of different defenses, a lot of adjustments and everything. So he has to get adjusted to all that. I think he is going to come in and be able to really contribute to this team on special teams.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (full analysis here)

Grade: B

Aggressive style of play. Excelled in man-to-man. Good size. Tenacity helps at times, hurts him against routes with multiple breaks.

Adam Teicher, ESPN (full analysis here)

The Chiefs needed an extra body at cornerback. The odds are against Smith, coming from a smaller school and being a sixth-round pick, ever becoming a key contributor. But the Chiefs had to draft someone and a corner was as good a position as any.

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride (full analysis here)

Smith received a lot of buzz late in the draft process coming out of small-school Central Arkansas. There wasn’t enough tape to grade Smith, but what is out there shows a player with an edge on the field, fluidity to mirror and match and ball skills. There is some similarities to Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander. I like Smith and his fit on this team. He has a good chance to make the roster.

Tennessee G Kahlil McKenzie

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One quote: Pat Sperduto, McKenzie’s scout

“We were at his Pro Day and we worked him out as a guard. We took a look and he did some really nice things. They had three other offensive linemen working out and he looked better than the other three of them that were there. It was pretty impressive. It stood out and when we brought it up, we tinkered with it back and forth and sure enough, Brett (Veach) and Coach Reid and the staff, they decided it was a good fit, let’s try it, let’s go for it.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (full analysis here)

Grade: C- (evaluating McKenzie as a defender)

Good burst. Thick. Can’t defeat blocks with much regularity.

Adam Teicher, ESPN (full analysis here)

It’s fitting in this draft that the only offensive player selected by the Chiefs is a defensive player. McKenzie, a defensive lineman in college at Tennessee, will play guard for the Chiefs. If nothing else, his arrival spices Kansas City’s rivalry with the Raiders. McKenzie’s father, Reggie, once played for Oakland and now is the Raiders general manager.

Kent Swanson, Arrowhead Pride (full analysis here)

We’ll officially have some family rivalry in the AFC West next year. Kahlil is the son of Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. He’ll be transitioning to the offensive line for the Chiefs. His athletic profile is similar to Falcons offensive guard Sean Harlow and former Chiefs offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson, per Mockdraftable. McKenzie is a big, physical player. He has a chance to come along nicely.

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