From the FanPosts -- JD
In less than a week, we will have our answer to this question: who will be the newest members of the Kansas City Chiefs?
In the meantime, there will be a massive amount of speculation and mock drafts. And while there is a huge cottage industry around the draft, one man is so respected for his talent evaluation that he's being fitted for the gold jacket of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and will be inducted this fall.
Gil Brandt is The Godfather of the draft. Vice-President of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 through 1988, he is plugged in to the what the top talent evaluators think of the draft class; he is excellent at having the pulse of the collective NFL draft board. And since 2014, he has published his top 50-150 draft prospects at NFL.com. It's worth taking a look at this year's list.
So I thought it would be interesting to see if we could use 2019 draft board to glean any insight about how the first night of the draft might fall for the Chiefs at pick 29.
But how accurate is he?
Listen to The Godfather
When we look back at the 160 first-round picks from 2014 - 2018, we find that Brandt only missed on 31 of them, giving him an 81% success rate. Of the 31 he missed, 19 were selected between picks 25 and 32 -- the last quarter of the round.
In the top 15 picks, Brandt is incredibly accurate. 75% of the time, a player is selected within five picks of his board. Even if we change the criteria to within two picks, his accuracy is still an impressive 45%.
Now there are always teams that buck conventional wisdom -- or have some late information on a player that might cause them to fall. We also sometimes see teams that think they have a better idea about a particular player than the consensus. It's amazing, but a lot of that is seen between the 13th and 17th picks.
In 2015, the 17th pick was a player outside Brandt's first round. The same was true of the14th pick in 2016, and the 13th and 16th picks in 2017. On the reverse side, we see that Brandt's 15th ranked prospects in 2015, 2017 and 2018 -- along with his 16th in 2016 -- were all drafted after the first round.
So middle first-round prospects that Brandt rates around 15th or 16th tend to fall in the draft. This year, his 15th prospect is Rashan Gary and his 16th is D.K. Metcalf.
It's fascinating that Gary and Metcalf find themselves ranked in this draft no-man's land. Both are starting to be viewed as potential fallers. Metcalf has the potential neck injury -- and his awful three-cone times at the Combine. Gary is attempting to overcome poor production numbers at Michigan -- and now we hear from CBS Sports' NFL insider Jason LaCanfora there may be some medical issues as well.
Continue to hear some teams have medical red flags on Rashan Gary (Michigan). He's a first-round guy, but I wouldn't be shocked if it's a little lower than some project.
Brett Veach's eye is at least in the same ball park as Brandt's. Veach traded for Cam Erving (who was 26th on Brandt's board in 2015) and Reggie Ragland (who was 18th in 2016). Sammy Watkins was 6th on Brandt's 2014 board. And last year -- in Veach's first draft as GM -- four of Kansas City's six draft picks were in Brandt's top 150 (Tremon Smith 93rd, Armani Watts 109th, Derrick Nnadi 112th and Dorian O'Daniel 121st).
What about pick 29?
Who was taken at pick 29 since 2014, and where did Brandt rank the players who were taken?
- 2014 - Dominique Easley (not ranked)
- 2015 - Philip Dorsett (40th)
- 2016 - Robert Nkediche (23rd)
- 2017 - David Njoku (29th)
- 2018 - Taven Bryan (27th)
So we could expect pick 29 will be a player Brandt has ranked somewhere between 23rd and 40th. And we can further guess there's a 60% chance it will be a player Brandt ranked 29th or higher, a 20% chance it will be one he ranked lower, and a 20% chance he didn't rank them in his Top 150.
Who are those players this year? Players with whom the Chiefs have had pre-draft Top 30 visits are listed in italics.
- #23 Cody Ford OT Oklahoma
- #24 Dexter Lawrence DT Clemson
- #25 Dwayne Haskins QB OSU
- #26 Deandre Baker CB Georgia
- #27 Greedy Williams CB LSU
- #28 Garrett Bradbury C NCSt
- #29 Parris Campbell WR OSU
- #30 Byron Murphy CB Wash
- #31 Connor McGovern OG PSU
- #32 Jeffrey Simmons DT MSU
- #33 AJ Brown WR Miss
- #34 LJ Collier DE TCU
- #35 Irv Smith TE Ala
- #36 Kaleb McGary T Wash
- #37 Eric McCoy C TAM
- #38 Rock Ya-Sin CB Temple
- #39 Johnathan Abram S MSU
- #40 Jerry Tillery DT ND
This is a very intriguing list -- one that includes seven known pre-draft top 30 visits.
Beyond that, Lawrence, Collier, Abram, McGovern and Murphy all had formal interviews with the Chiefs at the Combine; Irv Smith also said that he spoke with Kansas City there. Ya-Sin was reported as having spoken with Chiefs at the Senior Bowl.
So there is definitely some smoke around these players and the Chiefs.
Another thing to note is that Brandt's quarterback rankings tend to be somewhat scattered. Here's how he ranked first-round quarterbacks compared to where they were drafted.
- 2014 - Johnny Manziel 1st (22)
- 2014 - Blake Bortles 8th (3)
- 2014 - Teddy Bridgwater 13th (32)
- 2014 - Derek Carr 25th (round 2)
- 2015 - Jameis Winston 5th (1)
- 2015 - Marcus Mariota 7th (2)
- 2016 - Jared Goff 8th (1)
- 2016 - Carson Wentz 7th (2)
- 2016 - Paxton Lynch 20th (26)
- 2017 - Mitch Trubisky 8th (2)
- 2017 - Deshaun Watson 9th (12)
- 2017 - Patrick Mahomes 18th (10)
- 2018 - Baker Mayfield 4th (1)
- 2018 - Sam Darnold 3rd (3)
- 2018 - Josh Rosen 2nd (10)
- 2018 - Josh Allen 7th (7)
- 2018 - Lamar Jackson 22nd (32)
Why is this important to the Chiefs?
While they are scattered all over the round, all but one of these first-round projections were actually drafted in the first. This year, Brandt has four QBs in his first round this year: Kyler Murray (7th), Daniel Jones (17th), Drew Lock (20th) and Dwayne Haskins (25th) -- which almost certainly means that three or four will go in the first round.
If it plays out that way, a player at a greater position of need for the Chiefs might fall -- or Brett Veach's phone might ring.
But before you get too ansty about Veach trading up, you should temper your expectations. In his pre-draft press conference, Veach said he's trying to learn to be more passive than aggressive.
"For me, it’s just learning how to be passive more so than aggressive," he said. "I’m kind of wired to just go up and get a guy. I think you learn something every year. That was tough (in 2018) -- you don’t have a first-round pick and then you don’t pick until late in the second. It was almost like we entered last year with a third-round pick. These names go off the board and you get a little impatient, but it will be a little bit different this year when you have some more picks to work with."
Also, the history of the 29th pick doesn't show much trading up. Last year, many Jacksonville Jaguars fans were asking the same thing many Chiefs fans are asking now: Can we trade up?
The Florida Times-Union answered that question last April.
While it’s fun to dream about blockbuster deals, they’ve rarely come from this spot.
Eleven trades including the 29th pick have been completed since 1993, but only one involved the team moving higher into the first round (Green Bay in 1998). More often, it has either been swapped for a package of later picks, acquired in exchange for a veteran or stayed in the hands of its owner.
So while there has been only one trade-up, there have been 10 trade-downs from pick 29 over the last 25 years. That's 40% of the time. If we acknowledge that Brandt's draft board is pretty similar to the general NFL consensus -- and we see that Kansas City has spent several high-profile visits on players in the range just below pick 29 -- then you have to think that maybe Veach is willing to move back a little and pick up an extra pick or two.
Where Chiefs Top 30 visits fall on the Top 150
Let's now look at all the known Chiefs Top 30 visits and see how many of them are in Brandt's rankings.
- Byron Murphy CB (30th)
- Jeffrey Simmons DT (32nd)
- LJ Collier DE (34th)
- Jerry Tillery DT (40th)
- Jaylon Ferguson DE (41st)
- Joejuan Williams CB (62nd)
- Sean Bunting CB (67th)
- Lonnie Johnson CB (74th)
- Andy Isabella WR (79th)
- Jace Sternberger TE (85th)
- Dexter Williams RB (116th)
- Amani Oruwariye CB (123rd)
- Paul Adams OL (NA)
- Alex Barnes RB (NA)
- Emeke Egbule LB (NA)
- Ethan Greenidge OL (NA)
- Cole Holcomb LB (NA)
- Derrick Kelly OT (NA)
- Imam Marshall DB (NA)
- Sione Takitaki LB (NA)
- Darwin Thompson RB (NA)
- Tim Ward DE (NA)
The highest-ranked Brandt-ranked player who visited the Chiefs is Byron Murphy, who is ranked 30th. Remember though: Veach has said that sometimes you have to be willing to take a player a little early if you don't think they will be available at your next pick. This is what we see with such a focus on players ranked between 30th and 41st.
Now, if we take into consideration the Combine visits Kansas City had, we find only three players who Brandt ranks higher than 30th: Montez Sweat (5th), Clelin Ferrell (18th) and Dexter Lawrence (24th).
This would seem to indicate that if the Chiefs make a move up it will be if Sweat or Ferrell slip a little. And it's looking like Sweat may take a tumble like Myles Jack did in 2016 -- or even worse -- like Mo Hurst did last year.
On his podcast this week, former NFL general manager Mike Lombardi discussed Sweat, reporting that sources told him that multiple teams have removed Sweat from their draft board amid concerns about that heart issue. That could set up a fall for Sweat down the first-round draft board, despite him being one of the players scheduled to attend the first round in Nashville next Thursday.
It will be interesting to see how many of the Chiefs picks come from the Gil Brandt's draft board. And who knows? The Chiefs could move down -- or if a guy like Sweat or Ferrell falls, they could move up.
One thing is for sure: there are a lot of connections between the Chiefs pre-draft visits and the Brandt draft board.
The draft can't get here soon enough!