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Mel Kiper mock draft 2.0: Chiefs take their left tackle of the future

Kiper projected trades for the very first time, but the Chiefs stuck with their No. 31 pick to take a lineman.

ESPN NFL college/draft analyst Mel Kiper released version 2.0 of his 2021 mock draft on Thursday. Kiper has been covering the NFL Draft for ESPN since 1984, and he noted that this mock draft was the first in his history to include trades — and he had three of them, at No. 2 (Falcons trade-up), No. 7 (49ers trade-up) and No. 9 (Patriots trade-up).

At the No. 31 draft position, Kiper sent an offensive tackle to the Kansas City Chiefs.

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Walker Little, OT, Stanford

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Washington State at Stanford Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This might be a new name for some, but Little made my preseason Big Board all the way back in August of 2019. That was ahead of the 2020 draft. Then he injured his knee in the season opener and missed the rest of that season and opted out of 2020, so he hasn’t played much football since. I called Little more of a finesse tackle in 2019, but he has a great frame (6—7, 315 pounds) and can move his feet. He started as a true freshman at Stanford. There is some projection here, but Little has some great tape from 2017 and 2018. Scouts will be able to see him up close at his pro day next month. And if you watched Patrick Mahomes run for his life in Super Bowl LV, you know the Chiefs could use a tackle.

Despite the welcomed good news from right tackle Mitch Schwartz on Wednesday, the Chiefs ought to continue on with their offseason plans as they were, almost assuming that Schwartz won’t be ready. In an ideal situation, Schwartz is back, fully recovered and shores up a tackle position, but the game’s history has shown that back injuries, in particular, come with unpredictable and unreliable recovery results.

Add Eric Fisher’s late-season Achilles tear into that mix, and the Chiefs bolstering the tackle position could be considered priority No. 1 this offseason. In Kiper’s mock, the Chiefs select 21-year-old Walker Little.

The 6-foot-7, 320-pound left tackle was named to the All-Pac-12 first team back in 2018, his last full season. I’m not in love with all the unknowns Kiper lists regarding Little, but at this stage (before free agency), the position fit feels right.

Kiper’s first mock had the Chiefs taking Azeez Ojulari, an EDGE out of Georgia (at the time, at 32). That’s another position of need.


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