In my opinion, the bye week signals that it’s time to start looking at the upcoming NFL Draft in a more serious manner.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ week off provides time to reflect and evaluate what the team has done. While I enjoy just discussing college football as much as anyone, I’m much more invested in the NFL Draft and how players transition from college to the NFL. For that reason, I want to occasionally use this weekly post to get some mock drafts posted, giving some sample ideas of where I think the Chiefs’ needs lie — and who has been showing out during the season and could be on their radar.
So let’s get down to the November Mock Draft and see how we can better set the Chiefs up for a three-peat in 2021.
The general strategy for this draft was a balancing act: filling needs while adding high- ceiling players.
Looking at the 2021 Chiefs’ depth chart, the obvious holes that need instant starters are defensive end and the interior offensive line. The Chiefs also have questionable starters to depth at wide receiver, linebacker and potentially offensive tackle. As this draft went on, I tried to keep in mind that some positions need individuals ready to play immediately — but at the same time, I still did not want to ignore top-end talent.
R1: Jayson Oweh | EDGE | Penn State
2021 Draft: Jayson Oweh EDGE— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) August 3, 2020
+ Frame for additional weight
++ Explosive 1st step
+ Reactive athlete
+ Ankle flexion when turning corner
+ Club + rip into a skip turn on corner
+ Shoulder dip
- Limited play time
- Pass rusher only in 19
- Hand usage/move variety and timing pic.twitter.com/OdwLGg4VxO
Coming into the season, Jayson Oweh was a raw pass-rush specialist who showed incredible potential but was still putting all of the pieces together. When the Big Ten announced the season was cancelled, it became unlikely he could come out based upon his previous usage — but now that the conference has returned, so has Oweh.
Oweh’s explosive traits and speed are outrageous given his size — listed at 6 feet 5, 252 punds. He wins with the first step and his ability to dip his shoulder or put his foot in the ground and bend “under the table” and get below a blocker’s hands. The speed, the flexibility and ever-improving hands showcase a prospect who has top-10 type traits that is still working to tie everything together.
Up until this season, he was often used only as a pass-rush specialist but is finally on the field full time. His ability as a run defender is still questionable, but he’s shown vast improvement in his strength at the point of attack and his hand technique. That functionality as a base end combined with a progressing counter-rush plan give him three-down potential.
R2: Tylan Wallace | WR | Oklahoma State
Tylan Wallace WR #2— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) August 24, 2020
++ Ball skills/High point ability
+ Attacks space vs zone & w/ ball
+ Good speed, great quickness
++ Fluid hips on hard breaks & double moves
+ Physicality blocking & mid-route
- Lower body density
- Limited route tree & xp vs press
Senior Bowl Top 250 pic.twitter.com/VQeHLhL6KE
Tylan Wallace is an interesting prospect because he plays much bigger than his size and his athletic skill set appears to align with slightly different usage than he sees at Oklahoma State. Wallace is listed at 6 feet and 190 pounds (though he is likely a little smaller than that), yet he is often asked to be the red zone and contested-catch threat for Oklahoma State.
He’s exceptional attacking the football in the air and battling through contact at the catch point — but his real value lies in his quickness and explosion. In the spread offense he’s currently in, his route tree is limited — but the potential to transition into a high-end route-runner is very evident with the aforementioned bonus ball skills.
Wallace reminds me quite a bit of Jeremy Maclin, a player who developed into quite the possession wide receiver for Andy Reid — despite not having elite size.
R3: Brady Christensen OT | BYU
Brady Christensen has been one of the cogs to the Zach Wilson hype machine, protecting the blind side for the young quarterback. Playing left tackle for BYU, Christensen immediately pops — thanks to his nimble feet and exceptional mobility. He has a natural kick-slide and mirrors rushers with ease, utilizing his length and foot speed to control them up the arc.
He has fantastic range as a run blocker and works his reach-block angles incredibly well on zone runs. For me, Christensen does profile a little better as a tackle, but zone-heavy teams don’t often have an issue trying a guy like him on the inside (see Ezra Cleveland with the Minnesota Vikings). The issue for Christensen on the inside is a lack of top-end power — along with worry that powerful, squatty defenders will get into his pads — but he’s shown an improvement in core strength this year at BYU.
R4: Ambry Thomas | CB | Michigan
Love seeing Ambry Thomas get the call to come to Mobile. Long boundary CB with terrific ball skills (7 PBU and 3 INT in 2019).— Craig Stout (@barleyhop) November 6, 2020
Comfortable squeezing the boundary against a bigger WR on this play. Head around early in the route, extends arm to create space to high point the ball. pic.twitter.com/VH6cNgl28b
With Bashaud Breeland set to hit free agency — again — and the struggles of Charvarius Ward, the Chiefs could very well be looking to add a running mate across from L’Jarius Sneed next year. Rashad Fenton has proven he’s a quality depth player, but I’m not sure they feel confident in him starting full-time. That is why looking at a guy like Ambry Thomas in the middle rounds could prove useful.
Thomas is only listed at 6 feet, 182 pounds, but he has good length and knows how to use his length to squeeze the sideline. His press technique continues to improve and his ability to match out of a press technique is high quality. There are times a lack of play strength does come into play, but Thomas makes up for it with fantastic ball skills. Thomas opted out of the 2020 season, so at this stage, his draft stock is a little more difficult to predict.
R5: Antjuan Simmons| LB | Michigan State
Despite losing players like Joe Bachie and Kenny Willekes on their defense, we'll all be circling the name Antjuan Simmons from Michigan State this fall. pic.twitter.com/G3zAlPp6zx— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) March 8, 2020
Antjuan Simmons is an undersized linebacker that may be built a little more like a safety, and he is making all the plays for Michigan State.
In years past, he’s been utilized slightly more as an overhang or apex defender — but this year, he’s kicked inside to the box and looks just as good. He’s quick, fast and knows how to make plays in the passing game — all the things the Chiefs lack at linebacker.
Simmons is listed at 6 feet, 225 pounds — which will hurt his draft stock for certain — but for the Chiefs’ purposes, it may not matter. Currently, Dorian O’Daniel looks like he’s going nowhere — and Ben Niemann plays significant reps in passing situations for the Chiefs. Replacing these two guys with Simmons — who combines the athleticism of O’Daniel and the game processing of Niemann — could be massively beneficial.
Based on his play so far this season, if Simmons could add another 10 pounds or so, he may have the ability to transition into a three-down linebacker.
R5: Trey Hill | IOL | Georgia
Trey Hill is a big-bodied, powerful interior offensive lineman for Georgia who has played guard but is currently playing center for the Bulldogs. Hill checks in at 6-feet-5, 330 pounds and utilizes all of that size to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. He’s incredibly powerful and can handle the strongest defensive tackles when asked to block them one-on-one.
Hill takes quality angles to the second level, which allows him to make up for average athleticism and quickness. He does have to work on being more consistent getting off of combo blocks when defenders alter his climbing path; he doesn’t have the lateral agility to quickly adjust on the fly.
Even though he doesn’t have an incredibly high ceiling, Hill — like ex-teammate Solomon Kindley — has the technique to step in and play early on.
R5: Tariq Thompson | DB | San Diego State
Have a day Tariq Thompson! pic.twitter.com/0lOz7vwo0w— San Diego State Football (@AztecFB) December 1, 2019
Tariq Thompson has mostly played safety for San Diego State, but given its 3-3-5 defense and that structure, he has spent plenty of time in man coverage — as well as playing deep.
In 2020, he’s mostly playing as the centerfield safety, showcasing his range and ball skills on the back end. He is not the most physical player on the back end — nor the most explosive — so his draft stock won’t be overwhelmingly high, but the production and instincts are irreplaceable.
Thompson has the potential to play as the Chiefs’ fourth safety or second slot defender — a role that they still haven’t filled since losing Kendall Fuller.
R7: Chris Rumph II | EDGE/LB | Duke
Chris Rumph II was a popular pass-rush prospect entering the season, but his lack of size shows up too often. His explosive traits and ability to play in space will always make him an intriguing player, but here’s the question: where does he play in the NFL?
At this point, Rumph may not have the size or strength to play as a 3-4 EDGE and be forced into transitioning to off-ball. Still, he could be intriguing for the Chiefs, as both Spagnuolo and Brendan Daly have utilized off-ball linebackers with that kind of rush potential.
With Damien Wilson set to hit free agency, the Chiefs have to be ready to move Willie Gay Jr. to the WILL, which may mean a replacement needed at SAM. Rumph could be an option.