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What we learned about the Chiefs this week

Taking a look at the week of May 18 on Arrowhead Pride...

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Kansas City Chiefs Media Availability Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Tyreek Hill praises top draft picks Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Mecole Hardman

Last Saturday, we reviewed the remarks Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill made when he met with reporters the day before, heaping praise on LSU running back Clyde-Edwards-Helaire.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know who that was at first,” he recalled, “but then I looked at his highlights and I was like, ‘Dang this dude is short, but he’s good, he’s cold.’

“I think he’s definitely going to be like a Darren Sproles-type back — come in, scatback — who can catch the ball out of the backfield, get those scrimmage yards when you need them. It is going to be tough.”

Hill also spoke about the Mecole Hardman, who — like Edwards-Helaire — had been the team’s first pick in the previous draft.

“There is no ceiling for this kid. I feel like he’s definitely a 1,000-yard receiver every year — with the targets, obviously. He’s just got to continue to work. He’s got to be different. He’s got to find something to be different at every year. It just can’t be speed. It just can’t be relying on outrunning everyone — because sometimes, it’s going to be a contested catch. Sometimes, it’s going to be — you got to get off a jam. You got to work on those things.”

What if the Chiefs hadn’t traded for Alex Smith in 2013?

Over the weekend, our readers were still digesting Ron’s “what-if” scenarios from Friday, in which the Chiefs decided not to trade for quarterback Alex Smith in 2013. One of them had the team taking quarterback Geno Smith with the first overall pick.

So they went ahead and selected the number one quarterback on their board — West Virginia’s Geno Smith — with the top slot. In the real draft, Smith fell all the way to the 39th overall selection. In this scenario, the Chiefs dug their heels in and wanted to draft the best guy to try and develop without moving from their pick.

Without the trade for Alex Smith, Kansas City retained their second-round pick and chose defensive lineman Kawann Short out of Purdue — a two-time Pro Bowler who still plays for the Carolina Panthers.

As the number one overall selection, Geno Smith was thrust into the starting role immediately. His inconsistent performance in the offense in his rookie season prevented the Chiefs from making the playoffs by just a few games.

Spoiler alert: in this scenario (but not all of them) the Chiefs still traded up to get Patrick Mahomes in 2017.

Broncos wide receiver: Tyrann Mathieu’s play haunted me for a while

On Monday, we learned that quarterback Patrick Mahomes isn’t the only Chiefs player who is living rent-free in the minds of some NFL opponents.

“The only game he lost was to the Super Bowl winners in a snow game,” wide receiver Courtland Sutton said last Thursday, according to Broncos Wire. “We missed some opportunities. I know that y’all have seen the play with Tyrann Mathieu. That play is something that did haunt me for a while. I moved on from it.”

Which current Chiefs player is considered a “sleeper” for 2020?

Monday’s Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast discussed some Chiefs players we could consider to be sleepers for the 2020 season — one of them being former Louisiana Tech cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said if they had the first pick in the fourth round, Sneed would have been the pick. If that’s true, there weren’t many players on the board separating third-round pick Lucas Niang and Sneed.

Sneed is physically capable of contributing right away. He boasts a better athletic profile than anyone currently on the roster. If he’s allowed to play at the line of scrimmage and get his hands on receivers, he should be able to compete sooner than people think. With questions about Bashaud Breeland’s availability early in the season, Sneed could catch up to the likes of Rashad Fenton and Antonio Hamilton for early playing time.

NFL announces changes to Rooney Rule; Eric Bieniemy weighs in

After the NFL officially announced changes to its Rooney Rule that will require teams to interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching positions (and at least one for coordinator jobs), Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy — who has reportedly interviewed for seven head coaching positions over the last two offseasons — was inevitably asked about it during his Tuesday press briefing.

“My overall reaction is going to remain the same,” he explained. “I am blessed and fortunate to be placed in this opportunity and been given this situation. One thing, as a coach, you always want to be judged based upon your own merit. At the end of the day, the best coach is going to be hired. That’s what I do. I coach football, but when it’s all said and done with, I can’t control all the [uncontrollables]. The only thing I can control is where we’re at right now and what we’re doing, and that’s making sure that we are mentally prepared for whenever we have that opportunity to get back on the field together.”

Steve Spagnuolo identifies Willie Gay Jr.’s probable position with Chiefs

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo also spoke to the press on Tuesday, talking about how the team might use second-round draft pick Willie Gay Jr. — a linebacker out of Mississippi State.

“We’ll probably begin with Willie at one of the outside positions,” Spagnuolo said of the new linebacker. “It might — we think, without knowing right away, we’re hopeful — that he would replace what Reggie Ragland did for us last year. I preface that by saying that we don’t know that until we get him.”

This fits right in line with our in-house projection from Craig Stout.

I believe that Gay has the potential to be a day-one starting WILL linebacker for this defense. His athletic traits would be a major upgrade if he has the playbook down. However, if Spagnuolo and House want to get him some on-field development, I could see the Chiefs utilizing him at SAM linebacker early on. That would move Damien Wilson back to WILL linebacker, where he played after Darron Lee’s demotion. It could gain Gay the necessary reps to learn the system and speed of the game at the NFL level while still keeping the athleticism on the field.

Ravens RB Mark Ingram: “In order to be the champs you have to dethrone the champ”

Speaking of having the Chiefs live rent-free in your head, Wednesday brought us a nugget from Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram, who was being interviewed on Fox Sports’ “First Things First.”

Eric Bieniemy throws support behind Sammy Watkins

On Wednesday, we examined Bieniemy’s Tuesday remarks in support Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins, whose Bleacher Report interview was still reverberating around the league.

“I enjoyed the article,” Bieniemy explained. “One thing you guys got to understand is players go through a lot of different highs and lows. There’s a lot of pressure that players receive when playing this game outside of what we do. I’m not going to divulge on any of our conversations, but I love Sammy. I love the way he comes to work every single day. I am very blessed and fortunate that we’re bringing him back.”

“Just listen to him,” Bieniemy said. “He’s allowing everybody into who he is, but he just wants people to know that he wants to be the player that he was expected to be, and we love him because of that.”

Advanced stats make compelling Hall of Fame case for Jamaal Charles

As running back Frank Gore (now with the New York Jets) gets ready for his 16th season, there’s been a lot of talk suggesting he should eventually make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But on Thursday, Ethan made the case that former Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles deserves it more.

Of the 72 backs with over 1000 carries since 2000, Jamaal is one of just three backs (the other being Marshall Faulk, a current Hall of Famer, and Priest Holmes) who were able to make running the ball efficient for their teams.

Take a look at Frank Gore in this graph. When we look at backs with 1,000 or more carries, he’s below average. Sure... he amassed more carries during that time frame than anyone else. But the data leads us to believe that if Gore’s teams had just decided to hand off the ball to someone else, they’d get essentially the same (or maybe better) result. But Charles looks irreplaceable. Along with a few outliers, he looks like the only back capable of making the run game look efficient.

Patrick Mahomes loves the proposed onside kick alternative

When the NFL has it’s virtual league meeting this Thursday, they’ll be voting on a proposed rule change that up to twice in a game, a team could line up for a fourth-and-15 play at their own 25 instead of kicking off to their opponent. Unsurprisingly, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes loves the idea — but on Friday, we learned Andy Reid isn’t so sure.

“I don’t know if it will pass or not,” he told reporters. “I know the special-teams coaches aren’t real big on that. It takes away — obviously — one of the elements of theirs. It’s also the kickoff — which has been under scrutiny here — and kickoff returns.

“[Keeping] the integrity of the game... you like that part of it,” Reid continued. “On the other hand, if it does pass, we’ve got a guy who can do fourth-and-15s; he’d give us the opportunity to do that. So I’ve got kind of mixed thoughts on it. Being an old guy, I’d probably stick with the integrity of the game as it sits right now — but I could also see where the other part could be exciting, too.”