With a full slate of conference championships this weekend, the college football season is reaching its pinnacle — starting on Friday, December 3 with Conference USA and the Pac-12 conferences — and then flowing into Saturday with the MAC, American Athletic, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Big-12, Big-10, ACC and SEC championships.
While the Kansas City Chiefs are in the thick of the season on the field, the team’s scouting department has been hard at work behind the scenes, zeroing in on the next crop of talent that will help sustain the team’s success. That means it is time for the Arrowhead Pride film department to start our own coverage for the 2022 NFL Draft.
What are some of the more pressing needs on which the front office will be focusing this offseason? Looking at the state of the roster — along with contracts that are set to expire after 2021 — wide receiver, safety and edge rusher seem to be the top priorities. Cornerback and offensive tackle could also be addressed.
In this weekend’s conference championships, there are several intriguing prospects at each of these positions — ranging from Day 1 guys to mid-rounders.
The Chiefs are not likely to get a top-15 draft pick, so high-end names like edge rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) and Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) — and offensive tackle Evan Neal (Alabama) — aren’t on this list.
All times are Arrowhead Time.
Utah vs. Oregon | 7 p.m. Friday | ABC
Devin Lloyd | Linebacker | Utah
This Ute was born in Kansas City and is fun to watch. He leaps off the screen with his speed. For the Chiefs, he could be a starting-caliber linebacker, bringing many of the same intangibles that have made Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. fit with the team.
Mykael Wright | Cornerback | Oregon
Here’s an aggressive corner who makes up for his lack of size with plenty of swag. The way he plays the game reminds me a bit of Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor | 11 a.m. Saturday | ABC
Malcolm Rodriguez | Linebacker | Oklahoma State
A tackling machine who is undersized for a pro linebacker, Rodriguez’s 5-foot-11 stature is his biggest downside — but the kid can play football. He could be a late-round pick — or even an undrafted player — who becomes a Dave Toub ace.
Jalen Pitre | Safety | Baylor
A Bear through and through, Pitre has become one of the best in the country at his position. He has 15.5 tackles for loss this season — and has forced three fumbles. He is loyal almost to a fault — but so far, his commitment to the Bears has paid off.
Georgia vs. Alabama | 3 p.m. Saturday | CBS
Lewis Cine | Safety | Georgia
A sure tackler, Cine is a playmaking defensive back. He can also be dependable in the passing game; he’s deflected eight passes and intercepted one this season. We already know he looks good in red.
John Metchie III | Wide Receiver | Alabama
Over recent years, the Crimson Tide has cranked out some of the best wide receiver talent the draft has had to offer. The 6-feet, 195-pound wideout can run crisp routes from multiple spots in the offense.
Derion Kendrick | Cornerback | Georgia
L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton provide a solid duo of young corners for the Chiefs — but unless he is re-signed, Charvarius Ward is set to hit free agency. Kendrick played quarterback in high school, arrived at Clemson as a wide receiver and eventually started at cornerback for the Tigers. With the Bulldogs, he is now a staple of college football’s best defense.
Michigan vs. Iowa | 7 p.m. Saturday | Fox
David Ojabo | Edge | Michigan
Even though Hutchinson is not likely to end up in Kansas City, his Wolverine teammate David Ojabo is another first-round defensive end who could. The Chiefs love athletic ends — and Ojabo fits that mold to a ‘T’ — so I recommend keeping your eye on him.
Daxton Hill | Safety | Michigan
Hill has been great on the back end of the Michigan defense. He is a rangy player who can high-point the ball — but is trustworthy as a tackler, too. Versatility is the most attractive part of his skillset; he can cover slot guys underneath — and then on the next play, high-point a deep ball downfield.
Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest | 7 p.m. Saturday | ABC
Jaquarii Roberson | Wide Receiver | Wake Forest
This sure-handed wideout is the second-leading receiver for the Demon Deacons. He has caught eight touchdowns in Wake Forest’s high-scoring offense. He is a lengthy player who can win 50/50 balls.
Deslin Alexandre | Defensive Tackle | Pittsburgh
Here’s a defensive lineman who has moved from the outside to the inside. He is explosive in short areas — but what is likely most valuable is his ability to play in multiple fronts.