The Kansas City Chiefs used six picks in 2021’s NFL Draft on Friday and Saturday, selecting linebacker Nick Bolton, offensive lineman Creed Humphrey, edge rusher Joshua Kaindoh, tight end Noah Gray, wide receiver Cornell Powell and offensive lineman Trey Smith. Let’s take a look at the weekend’s winners and losers.
- Creed Humphrey: For the final piece to the Chiefs’ instant rebuild of the offensive line, they used pick 63 on a highly athletic center who could be a great fit — and a long-term solution for the position. But it’s Humphrey who is the real winner. Not only was he drafted by one of the best teams in the league, but he will have the opportunity to play between Joe Thuney and either Kyle Long or Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Having good-to-great veterans on each side will make his success more likely. The Chiefs also have Austin Blythe — a competent veteran on a one-year deal — as the presumed ‘incumbent’ at center, so Humphrey will have the chance to compete without being under pressure to start right away. It’s a perfect situation for the young center to become the future with quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
- Patrick Mahomes: Speaking of the Chiefs’ quarterback, he has to be doing (virtual) backflips after seeing his team move heaven and earth to rebuild the offensive line. Some quarterbacks don’t get the support of their organization. The Chiefs and general manager Brett Veach have built a literal wall in front of their franchise signal-caller. From now on, he won’t have to ask; there should always be “plenty of time to run Wasp.” Then on Day 3, the Chiefs added two pass catchers who might contribute right away. Tight end Noah Gray could be a better receiving option than the non-Kelce tight ends now on the roster, and Cornell Powell has the tools to see the field early as a “post up” X wide receiver. More time, more targets — and more fun — for Patrick Mahomes in 2021 and beyond.
- Arrowhead Pride: The draft coverage has been elite for months — and the KC Draft Guide has proven to be right on target. Each of the first four selections were listed as a high fit in the guide, so it’s clear that the AP Nerd Squad was spot-on with their evaluations — even if they didn’t predict the picks themselves. We also had a good consensus on our list of team needs. By the end of the draft, the Chiefs checked off everything but cornerback.
- Brett Veach’s plan: Many questioned what the Chiefs were doing as draft day was drawing near — and the plan for the offensive line was unclear. Many worried about the team addressing linebacker and center before other more impactful positions. But the team needs list and the draft picks don’t have to be in the same order. After seeing it in its entirety, the draft plan was solid. Kansas City got good players at nearly every position of need — most with a specific path to a contributing role early in their careers. With some veteran additions likely coming in the next couple of weeks — along with the UDFAs that will be signed in the next few days — the roster is really shaping up.
- Nick Keizer: The Chiefs finally upgraded at tight end with the trade-up to Gray. He and Blake Bell will both likely leapfrog Keizer on the depth chart, putting his roster spot in some jeopardy. Gray is likely to be a core special-teams player and a versatile receiving target — something the Chiefs haven’t had at from a second tight end for some time.
- Nick Allegretti (and maybe some other offensive linemen): Investment in a new offensive line was clearly one of Veach’s main themes — starting with the trade for Orlando Brown, Jr. and continuing through using a second-round pick on Humphrey. These two additions — plus adding Thuney, Long and Blythe — and bringing back LDT and Lucas Niang — have resulted in a crowded offensive line room. Then the Chiefs added ANOTHER potential starting guard with their final pick of the draft, picking up Trey Smith. Allegreti — originally presumed to be working at center after the Chiefs loaded up on guards in free agency — could be the odd man out. Now with Blythe and Humphrey in the middle, the Chiefs are at least two deep across the entire line without a logical spot for Allegretti. We could add Andrew Wylie, Martinas Rankin, Prince Tega Wanogho and Yasir Durant (and others) to the bubble as well. This is an extremely deep group. There will be subtractions.
- Michael Burton: The Chiefs signed a traditional fullback to replace the legendary Anthony Sherman. For Burton, it’s a one-year, low-cost deal — and he likely expected a chance to have a significant role on offense. But after drafting Noah Gray — a tight end who can also play some fullback and H-back — where does that leave Burton? Sherman only saw 5.7% of the snaps in 2020, so how can Burton expect to have a bigger role — especially when the Chiefs now have a young guy who can play the same role?