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Mel Kiper regrades the Chiefs’ 2018 NFL Draft class

The Chiefs got contributions from five of the six players they drafted in 2018

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Almost a year after giving the Kansas City Chiefs a C+ for their 2018 draft, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. has taken another look at the team’s 2018 draft class and assigned a new grade.

Chiefs 2018 Draft

2 46 Breeland Speaks DE Ole Miss
3 75 Derrick Nnadi DT Florida State
3 100 Dorian O'Daniel OLB Clemson
4 124 Armani Watts S Texas A&M
6 196 Tremon Smith CB Central Arkansas
6 198 Kahlil McKenzie DT Tennessee

Kiper now gives the 2018 Chiefs draft a slight uptick, awarding them a B- for their efforts.

Here’s how Kiper explains it in a new ESPN Insider article:

This class can be compared to the Rams’ in that the Chiefs didn’t get a ton of snaps out of their rookies. But we have to count the rise of Patrick Mahomes here, and he should count as Kansas City’s first-round pick. Former GM John Dorsey bet big to move up for Mahomes in 2017, giving up this 2018 pick to move up 17 spots. All Mahomes did was win MVP in his first season as the starter. That’s a win.

As for the actual class, Day 2 picks Breeland Speaks, Derrick Nnadi and Dorian O’Daniel were in the rotation and should be integral parts of a rebuilding defense in 2019. Speaks, in particular, will be asked to help fill the void of Dee Ford on the edge. Tremon Smith was the Chiefs’ top kick returner. And keep an eye on Kahlil McKenzie, whom Andy Reid & Co. moved from defensive tackle to guard and gave him a redshirt year.

Maybe I’m cheating a bit here based on the actual rookies who saw the field, but the Mahomes move matters, and Kansas City’s decision to go all-in for a quarterback was a home run.

Yes... it’s a bit of cheat to include Mahomes with the 2018 class. But then again, the Chiefs’ 2018 first-round pick was used to acquire him in 2017, and there is no doubt the move has paid off handsomely for the Chiefs.

It’s hard to argue against Kiper’s individual points. But if you believe the narrative that Speaks — and to a lesser extent, O’Daniel — were drafted to fit a 4-3 defense that the Chiefs were not running in 2018, you might be inclined to bump the Chiefs’ grade up a little bit more; if that narrative is correct, then it’s a bit surprising that the Chiefs got as much out of Speaks and O’Daniel as they did.

Kiper didn’t mention safety Armani Watts, who started the season slowly but played well in Week 4 and Week 5 before he was injured and lost for the year. He could be a key contributor for the Chiefs in 2019.

Kiper is also correct that McKenzie will be a player to watch. The Chiefs essentially wasted a roster spot McKenzie in 2018, making him a healthy game-day scratch in every game of the season — even when the offensive line was ravaged by injuries. That strongly suggests the Chiefs not only think McKenzie is worth keeping, but also that he likely would have been poached from the practice squad if they had tried to stash him there.

Once a team has done that, you have to believe they have plans for him.

In any case, getting significant playing time out of five of six drafted players is not a bad outcome at all.

Because of the unusual situation in which the Chiefs find themselves one year later — going all-in on defense in the draft, and then not only changing defensive coordinators but also adjusting their scheme — it’s hard to get a handle on what the Chiefs have in the three players the Chiefs drafted for their defensive front in 2018.

It’s not that crazy to think that a year from now, we’ll see the 2018 class in a much different light.


One year later, how would you grade the Chiefs 2018 draft?

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