31. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
The Kansas City Chiefs value speed on offense, but that organizational approach would apply to defense in this particular case as well.
Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes is blazing-fast. The former high school track star ran an unofficial 4.24-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, per ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe.
Raw speed alone shouldn’t get Stokes into the first round. He’s an outstanding man-cover corner, though. Pro Football Focus graded the first-team All-SEC selection as the fourth-best cornerback in man coverage.
The speed translates to the field. Stokes isn’t just a straight-line athlete; he has the quickness to redirect and recover against top wide receivers.
Kansas City needs to bolster its secondary since Bashaud Breeland is an unrestricted free agent and Charvarius Ward is restricted. Stokes can replace Breeland while serving as a bookend to rookie standout L’Jarius Sneed.
We know Ward’s strengths—physicality, tackling, being able to stay with receivers on short and intermediate routes—so asking him to hang deep with speedsters may have been just a little out of his current comfort range. If the team can keep him playing to his strengths, Ward is an extremely solid corner.
Now it comes down to what should the Chiefs do, and I think they should—and will—offer him a contract. I am not entirely sure what the number will look like, but Ward has bested expectations and with Bashaud Breeland probably pricing himself out of K.C., keeping Ward should be a priority. In addition, having Ward alongside L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, and potentially even Deandre Baker makes for a solid young core.
Greg Newsome II DB
I don’t think you can have enough corners in this day and age, and Newsome is a prospect I like a lot. He has terrific size and length to match up with bigger receivers and has good instincts for the ball.
Kansas City Chiefs
Needs: Offensive line, cornerback, wide receiver.
Projected cap space: -$21 million
Even before the Super Bowl loss, Kansas City wasn’t as formidable as it had been the previous season. Among their deficiencies, the most glaring was on the offensive line. GM Brett Veach has already said the Chiefs are looking to infuse new talent there. They figure to return a pair of 2020 opt-outs — Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang — which will allow for more mixing and matching. But there simply isn’t enough depth on the O-line as it stands. There isn’t much flexibility with the payroll, either. Still, the Chiefs must figure out how to upgrade at cornerback and wide receiver while comfortably saying farewell to Bashaud Breeland, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson.
Alijah Vera-Tucker OL
He could provide insurance at tackle in case one of their two starters isn’t back from injury to open the season. If they are, he could start at guard, a position he has played well in his career.
All proceeds to FHF, Inc. go toward providing inclusive educational opportunities for Elbert County students overcoming special challenges with a little help from their friends. Visit FriendsHelpingFriendsClub.com for more info about FHF.
In addition to the many items Hardman has provided for the auction is a game-worn signed Kansas City Chiefs jersey, according to FHF’s Sandy Adams.
“Mecole gave us one of his game jerseys for the auction a few days ago,” said Adams. “He also said he would bring and sign any of his HardMan To Catch apparel for anyone who purchases one during the event.”
3. Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas
The Chiefs used prime resources to form this edge tandem, drafting Smith second overall in 1988 and taking Thomas fourth in ‘89. The latter’s lightning-quick first step put him on frequent collision courses with QBs. For speed-rush success, Thomas is on the top tier. He has a 20-sack season, a record seven-sack game, and a six-sack game. Thomas and Smith played eight seasons together, and the latter — a defensive end — led the NFL in sacks in 1993, but the Hall of Fame outside ‘backer was always the team’s centerpiece. The duo drove Kansas City to six playoff berths, with four different QBs, creating one of the modern NFL’s most reliable defenses.
Around the NFL
2. Josh Allen (Bills)
Projected deal: Four years, $168 million ($42 million per year)
Prescott’s deal surely helped Allen, who will almost certainly command more than $40M per season, considering he’s about three years younger and boasts splashier play-making ability, not to mention a recent AFC title-game bid. The fact he’s only gotten better each season in the NFL gives his representation plenty of leverage, too; outside of Mahomes and maybe Watson, which other young QB is on a clearer upward trajectory to MVP-level stardom? Buffalo probably won’t match Mahomes’ annual average considering Allen’s still got big-time playoff games to win, but the money should make him a guaranteed top three highest-paid QB.
Smith was released shortly after his conversation with Rivera last week, but Rivera agreed with his sentiment in the article.
“It was always in the back of my head, what if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg again? I’ll be the guy that put him back on the field to get him hurt again,” Rivera said during a video conference call with reporters Wednesday, his first since Smith’s release. “I struggled with that every day. That was tough.”
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Who they could sign
General manager Brett Veach has implied that the Chiefs wouldn’t be competing for the top-tier wide receiver free agents — and I agree that they shouldn’t. They should tender ERFA Byron Pringle. They could also re-sign Demarcus Robinson or Sammy Watkins, but I’d prefer going a different direction.
Lower-priced free agent possibilities include Josh Reynolds of the Los Angeles Rams, Keelan Cole of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kendrick Bourne of the San Francisco 49ers or Cleveland Browns’ Rashard Higgins.
A tweet to make you think
Less posting, more working.— Chris Jones (@StoneColdJones) March 10, 2021
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