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April Madness: the Elite Eight

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Eight players remain to determine the fan favorite for the Chiefs’ pick at 32.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Elite Eight of April Madness is now set, so the matchups are tougher and the voting more difficult.

This is your chance to vote for the player you’d like to see the Kansas City Chiefs draft with pick No. 32 in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Today, we have four matchups, which encompass all eight prospects left in the tournament. By the end of voting, the Final Four will be set heading into the pre-draft weekend.

Remember: no thought process is right or wrong. Vote for the player you’d rather have, the one you like more or the one you think the Chiefs will take; it’s up to you.

Here’s the bracket:

Recap

In the Super Bowl Champions region, we saw a battle of running backs and cornerbacks.

There was a bit of a surprise at running back, as D’Andre Swift easily dispatched of the size, speed and pure running prowess of Jonathan Taylor. Swift’s presumed upside as a receiver must have overwhelmed Taylor’s receiving and ability as a runner.

The battle of opposites at the cornerback position was incredibly tight and saw the big, zone-centric cornerback in Trevon Diggs barely edge out the finesse, man-coverage player in C.J. Henderson. Diggs’ NFL bloodlines and scheme specificity could have helped swing some of those tossups over the vaunted Henderson.

In the World Champions region (the Group of Death), the linebackers reigned supreme, as we anticipated. Patrick Queen outclassed Zack Baun, which is the likely way the debate would play out, as most teams that consider them both off-ball linebackers.

A.J. Terrell was the lone non-linebacker in the Sweet 16 in this region, and he went down without much of a fight to Kenneth Murray. The re-signing of Bashaud Breeland and the lack of WILL linebacker on the roster likely weighed heavily in this matchup.

The NFL Winners region was a bit more eclectic in the position groups, with two offensive linemen making the Sweet 16. Cesar Ruiz was able to walk out of the matchup with K’Lavon Chaisson with a win, and it likely boiled down to him being a better fit for the Chiefs, as both players are super talented.

The other offensive lineman in this region was tackle Josh Jones, who faced off with Kristian Fulton. Fulton pulled away early and won handily, as the concept of investing an early pick in a complete redshirt player — like a tackle — just can’t compete with a position of great need like cornerback.

The Repeat Time region had multiple defensive tackles enter the Sweet 16, and shockingly, one did prevail. Javon Kinlaw was able to take out Xavier McKinney in a tight contest. Kinlaw’s upside and potential as a Chris Jones replacement must have outweighed the instant impact and chesspiece ability McKinney would add to the back end of the defense.

The other defensive tackle — Justin Madubuike — squared off with cornerback Jeff Gladney, and the battle went like I expected any defensive tackle matchup to go. Gladney won big, as there is just a much clearer path to success for him within the Chiefs scheme to succeed, and he fills a need right away.

Elite Eight

Super Bowl Champions

RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia) vs. CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama)

Swift is a dynamic running back prospect with a quality athletic profile that showcases big-play potential and the ability to stay on the field at all times. His explosive ability as a runner allows him to burst through any running lane, even if on a hard-angled cutback. He has the speed to bounce the ball outside when available but does a good job fighting between the tackles when nothing is there. One of the top pass protectors in the class, he flashes the traits you look for in a high-end receiving back at the next level. Swift isn’t as shifty or as top-end fast as a lot of players with his prospect profile but rather wins with his initial acceleration and one-crisp cut.

Trevon Diggs is a bit of a surprise to make it this far given his lack of hype during the process, but his play on the field speaks for itself. Diggs’ size and play strength allow him to be a force at the line of scrimmage and disrupt receivers’ routes. He’s relatively fluid for a guy of his stature — 6 feet 1 and 205 pounds — and shows a good understanding of route concepts. His eyes are good in zone coverage, seamlessly moving from wide receiver to quarterback. Being a former wide receiver, Diggs can flash some high-end ball skills at times with his approach to high-pointing the football. Diggs is pretty specific to zone-heavy teams and shows some major inconsistencies vertically as he still transitions from receiver to defensive back.

Poll

Who would you rather the Chiefs take?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    D’Andre Swift
    (532 votes)
  • 47%
    Trevon Diggs
    (477 votes)
1009 votes total Vote Now

World Champions

LB Patrick Queen (LSU) vs. LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)

Queen is a modern linebacker that may look slightly undersized but has the range and coverage ability, so it doesn’t matter. His ability to drop to different zone depths, read a quarterback’s eyes and mirror them or pick up running backs and tight ends in man coverage separate him from a lot of linebackers in this class. As a run defender, he is at his best when kept clean, but his explosiveness and ability to read the play allow him to play ahead of blockers. Despite being a half-year starter, he shows an incredibly high IQ. He enters the draft as the youngest prospect this year. He’s not a great stack and take-on linebacker and needs to improve on playing the ball over his shoulder in man coverage, but the upside is infinite.

Murray may more athletic than Queen, as he flashes that true sideline-to-sideline range and the ability to play behind the line of scrimmage. With his extra size and length, he’s got the ability to bang between the tackles a bit more often and be more of a thumper when called upon. His ability to slice through front or back-side gaps and make a play on a ball carrier may the best in the class. Murray’s leadership is also raved about around the league. There are some bigger questions about Murray in coverage given the infrequency in which he was asked to do it and his lack of ability to process some stuff in front of him. At times, he looks like a “see ball, chase ball” player rather than one working through his keys to trigger early.

Poll

Who would you rather the Chiefs take?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Patrick Queen
    (462 votes)
  • 46%
    Kenneth Murray
    (405 votes)
867 votes total Vote Now

NFL Winners

CB Kristian Fulton (LSU) vs. IOL Cesar Ruiz (Michigan)

Fulton has always been “the other CB” at LSU but has never failed to impress in his time, oftentimes being the more steady presence on the field. His patient play lends itself incredibly well to playing in both man and zone schemes, and he is never frazzled by what a wide receiver is doing. He has good size, good speed and change of direction and while he may not tip the scales as elite in any category, he succeeds with all of them. When an intelligent cornerback that understands leverage and route combinations pools all those good traits with elite patience, you get one sticky cornerback. Fulton does have a history of being dinged up a little bit and hasn’t showcased a ton of high-level play on the ball during his LSU career.

Ruiz is the clear cut top interior offensive line prospect in this class. He can play center or guard. He sports a thick frame, quality hand technique and really good power in his lower half, allowing him to hold up in one-on-one situations as a pass blocker and generate movement as a run blocker. Where he separates himself is taking that power on the move. He may not be Jason Kelce fluid on the move, but he’s able to make pulls and angled climbs off the line of scrimmage that few centers can. His versatility to excel in gap or zone schemes and be the lynchpin of the latter are what make him special. Ruiz can get overaggressive both on the move and in pass protection, overextending himself at times but for a young prospect, that’s not a major concern.

Poll

Who would you rather the Chiefs take?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Kristian Fulton
    (297 votes)
  • 65%
    Cesar Ruiz
    (552 votes)
849 votes total Vote Now

Repeat Time

CB Jeff Gladney (TCU) vs. DT Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)

Gladney is captain of the “All-Chirp Team.” His highlight trait is his foot quickness and ability to mirror-match wide receivers from press or off positions. He’s very fluid in his backpedal and has the speed to flip his hips to run vertically with the fastest players. He has a ton of experience in a Quarters defense showing good zone eyes and a feel for spacing. He may not be the biggest cornerback, but he plays tenacious and with a ton of physicality throughout the route. Gladney will get caught peeking into the backfield at times and will be out-bodied at the catch point against larger receivers in the NFL.

Kinlaw is likely the lowest “need” player left in the Elite Eight, but his ceiling is absolutely through the roof. With minimal technical skills, he found a way to not only flash consistently in the SEC but dominate the Senior Bowl with sheer athleticism and power. He has great size for a guy that can explode off the ball the way he does and flashes good body control for his arm-over move at times. He’s a three-down player at the next level if he can clean up his technique and discipline against the run. Kinlaw makes the most of his plays from shooting a gap directly in front of him and doesn’t always have a backup plan when things go south. He has plenty of work ahead of him, but the athletic upside is through the roof.

Poll

Who would you rather the Chiefs take?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Jeff Gladney
    (525 votes)
  • 37%
    Javon Kinlaw
    (315 votes)
840 votes total Vote Now

Get your votes in and be on the lookout for the final four this weekend, as we are narrowing down who fans want the Chiefs to pick at 32.


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