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Rounding up the Chiefs’ draft needs, who’s available and trading up

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An exercise to see how the talent pool shakes out for the Chiefs’ round-one pick.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, around this time, I ran a mini-series outlining the needs of the Kansas City Chiefs compared to the strengths of the draft and how the draft might actually set the Chiefs up well for their first pick at 54. I sorted the Chiefs’ needs into three categories, and then just went down each position group, looking at players in their most-likely draft range.

The exercise wasn’t meant to determine precisely which player was going to be available, but rather to discover which position pool as it related to the Chiefs’ needs were going to have the most abundant supply of players. NFL front offices run through these kinds of scenarios — along with mock drafts — countless times leading up to the draft.

But this year is a little different for the Chiefs.

They are drafting in the first round. They have accumulated the draft capital to move around. And compared to last year, they are closer to the first talent drop-off.

So let’s look at how the Chiefs’ positions of need (PoN) line up with the strengths of the draft class and projected drafting positions and also examine whether the Chiefs might need to trade up — and if so, roughly where they’d need to go.

As long as everything follows my predicted path — which all we know isn’t likely, the draft being so unpredictable — it might tell us something about what the Chiefs could do.


Chiefs needs


To start, we’ll divide the team needs into three tiers. I know the needs of a team are always subjective, so I’ll include an explanation with each one.

Tier 1: Need a starter or rotational contributor

We either have no starter or lack a quality starter at the position.

Tier 2: Need depth or eventual starter

The starter is on the roster, but the depth behind him is thin or non-existent. Also applies to players whose contracts are about to end.

Tier 3: Need depth only

A position for which the starter (or rotational player) is secured and the immediate backup is already on the roster

Here’s how that would shake out for the Chiefs:

Tier 1: wide receiver, edge rusher, defensive end and cornerback

Tier 2: tight end, interior offensive line, interior defensive line, safety and linebacker

Tier 3: quarterback, running back, offensive tackle


The Draft


Now that we’ve identified the team’s positional needs, let’s look at the players that might be available to the Chiefs in the first round.

There are 43 players that I think could go in the opening round. We’ll split them into three groups:

Top 20 (T20)

Players that are above the 90th percentile — that is, likely to be chosen in the first 20 picks.

Round 1 (R1)

Players that will likely go in the first round but are less likely to do so than T20 players.

Dark horse (DH)

Players who might get into the first round because of a specific team need or fit but otherwise aren’t seen as round-one players.

I’ve identified 43 players that might go in the first round. When we apply all of these classifications for team need and likely first-round position, here’s what we get:

Tier 1 Need Players

Pos Player/School Thoughts
WR
(T20)
DK Metcalf
Mississippi
Unique blend of athleticism/size unseen in years; lateral agility may be limited, but size/speed often overdrafted
WR
(R1)
Hakeem Butler
Iowa State
Wouldn’t take much to convince me he’s top 20 pick, but the buzz has been quieter than for Metcalf
WR
(R1)
Paris Campbell
Ohio State
Remember: the NFL overdrafts size/speed, and he impressed with route running in pre-draft workouts
WR
(DH)
N’Keal Harry
Arizona State
A bit jaded to call him a dark horse, but since WR class has numerous big bodies, taking him R1 a no-brainer
EDGE
(T20)
Nick Bosa
Ohio State
Second-best player the draft; technical, powerful, very intelligent pass rusher; great run defender
EDGE
(T20)
Josh Allen
Kentucky
Top-level athlete with crazy versatility; still developing raw technical ability
EDGE
(T20)
Montez Sweat
Mississippi State
Questionable tape, but testing is great; elite athlete; great size; run defense and pass rush potential
EDGE
(R1)
Brian Burns
Florida State
NFL may be more concerned about run defense than analysts, but pass rush is refined; top-tier athlete
EDGE
(R1)
Rashan Gary
Michigan
Questionable tape, tweener size and play style, yet elite athleticism can carry you far in the NFL
EDGE
(R1)
Clelin Ferrell
Clemson
Potentially underrated by scouts; even if true a good run defender and very refined pass rusher; powerful hands
EDGE
(DH)
Chase Winovich
Michigan
With great combine re-entered the R1 discussion, teams will love demeanor and effort; has real skill
CB
(R1)
Greedy Williams
LSU
Pure talent; a top 20 lock but teams will question effort and tackling ability
CB
(R1)
Byron Murphy
Washington
Has some size limitations; NFL may not have learned lesson about good players with less-than-ideal size
CB
(R1)
Justin Layne
Michigan State
Top-level athlete — players with his profile have been extremely good in NFL; great ball skills, but very raw
CB
(R1)
Amani Oruwariye
Penn State
Similar to Layne; very raw and needs development; athletic profile may be too hard to pass up

To aid in absorbing this information (if your browser supports it), in this and the following tables, the light orange rows are T20 players, the yellow rows are R1 players, and the white rows are DH players. These designations are also shown under the player’s position.

Tier 2 Need Players

Pos Player/School Thoughts
TE
(T20)
TJ Hockenson
Iowa
Combo TE that can block and catch; getting some George Kittle boost, but lives up to it
TE
(R1)
Noah Fant
Iowa
More of a pure pass catcher but is capable of blocking; may need more technical refinement than advertised
IOL
(R1)
Garrett Bradbury
North Carolina State
Top OC in the class; elite athlete for position; ready to play day one in a zone blocking scheme
IOL
(R1)
Erik McCoy
Texas A&M
Upside as a good NFL starter but very pro-ready and scheme-diverse; held up well vs. top-notch competition
IOL
(DH)
Elgton Jenkins
Mississippi State
Powerhouse blocker; best fit with a gap scheme, but could find scheme-specific fit early on
IDL
(T20)
Quinnen Williams
Alabama
Best player in the draft; broke out this year and has been nothing short of great during pre-draft process
IDL
(T20)
Ed Oliver
Houston
Slightly down senior year but showed he can add on weight and still be explosive; NFL won’t Aaron Donald again
IDL
(T20)
Christian Wilkins
Clemson
May be a surprise; has great tape and longevity in the ACC; has been great in the interview process
IDL
(R1)
Jerry Tillery
Notre Dame
Inconsistencies litter the film but sometimes the NFL looks for flashes — and flashes are top-notch
IDL
(R1)
Jeffery Simmons
Mississippi State
Maybe a bit lofty given injury, but off-field concerns aren’t bothering teams; could redshirt a top 10 player
IDL
(DH)
Dexter Lawrence
Clemson
Great athlete; massive frame; limited a bit to a run stuffer, but NFL has jumped on similar types before
S
(R1)
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Florida
Versatile safety with traits to play single-high, but has shown to be a functioning slot CB
S
(R1)
Nasir Adderley
Delaware
Every fanbase’s fan favorite; small school player with great tape and top-tier athletic traits
S
(DH)
Jonathan Abram
Mississippi State
Physical, pure box safety; could draw interest from teams that want their Cam Chancellor
LB
(T20)
Devin Bush
Michigan
While shorter, has elite athleticism and coverage traits making him a highly coveted LB
LB
(T20)
Devin White
LSU
Top level athlete — like Bush — still working on his instincts, but has the size and athletic profile to be great

Tier 3 Need Players

Pos Player/School Thoughts
QB
(T20)
Kyler Murray
Oklahoma
The most dynamic QB in the class; appears to have climbed to the most QB 1 spots on big boards
QB
(T20)
Dwayne Haskins
Ohio State
Safe QB who impressed in a single year of starting; has a lot of tools, but needs some fine tuning
QB
(T20)
Drew Lock
Missouri
Top-flight NFL tools; finished the year strong, and has been aces during the pre-draft process
QB
(R1)
Daniel Jones
Duke
Coached by David Cutcliffe; has a good blend of athleticism and mental processing — even if scheme-dependent
RB
(DH)
Josh Jacobs
Alabama
Consensus top RB but lacks top-end athletic profile for R1 RB; low mileage, passing game ability are big bonuses
OT
(T20)
Jonah Williams
Alabama
Whether at OT or at OG is an extremely technical and smart blocker; size won’t drop him too far
OT
(T20)
Jawann Taylor
Florida
Big senior year has driven him into OT3 contention; physical traits and size galore, and is putting it all together
OT
(T20)
Cody Ford
Oklahoma
Another OT/OG type; massive blocker who is light on his feet and will entice teams at either position
OT
(R1)
Andre Dillard
Washington State
Could flip him or Ford, depending on team blocking scheme; traditional LT type; great athleticism and footwork
OT
(R1)
Dalton Risner
Kansas State
Word is a bit split, but teams loved his attitude and versatility at the Senior Bowl
OT
(DH)
Greg Little
Mississippi
Has the backing of famous OL coaches and ex-players; project blocker that still needs to put it all together
OT
(DH)
Yodny Cajuste
West Virginia
Looks natural in pass protection; light on his feet with savvy hand usage, but demeanor has been questioned

And here’s how the numbers add up:

Totals

Top 20 Round 1 Dark Horse Total
Tier 1 4 9 2 15
Tier 2 6 7 3 16
Tier 3 6 3 3 12
Total 16 19 8 43

What does this mean?

So we have:

  • 16 top-20 players
  • 19 round-one players
  • 8 dark horse players

If we assume all of the top 20 players do in fact go off the board in the first 28 picks — that is, before the Chiefs pick at 29 — that limits the player pool.

Therefore, what’s most likely to be left at pick 29 are round-one picks. Everything else being equal, as many as 12 of them (28 picks before the Chiefs, minus the 16 top-20 players) will be gone before the Chiefs would even pick at 29. Of the 19 round-one players, only about half of them are tier-one needs for the Chiefs.

Taking this logic one step further, that means this: of the 12 round-one players taken before the Chiefs, six of them would likely come from a tier-one need group. This would leave the Chiefs with just three player options from their highest level of need — and that’s if they stayed at 29.

Of course... the Chiefs will not like every player listed in this article. But if you do the math, what this data shows is that if the Chiefs move up six to nine spots in the draft, they would at least double the player pool from which they’ll be choosing.

That could be the difference in getting a preferred cornerback, a true top-flight wide receiver or one of the top-end pass rushers.


KC Draft Guide

For more extensive reviews, rankings, and grades on players that could be available for the Chiefs check out the KC Draft Guide, which releases on April 8. Through the end of March, promo code ‘madness’ will get you the guide for 33 percent off!

We’ll have over 200 prospect write-ups, specifically about how prospects fit the Chiefs. There will be big boards, more than 300 grades on players, mock drafts, positional rankings and features all specific to the Chiefs. You can pre-order the guide for only $6.69 by clicking here or entering ‘madness’ in the promotional code field below!