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Todd McShay’s first way-too-early mock draft sends Chiefs an edge rusher

We promise not to bring you too many of these absurdly-early mock drafts. But it’s possible we’re lying.

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

We’re not going to make a habit of bringing you way-too-early mock drafts (famous last words), but for ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s first one following the 2021 NFL Draft, we’re willing to make an exception.

In his mock published on Thursday — in which, by the way, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick 31st and the Kansas City Chiefs pick 32nd — McShay sends an edge rusher to Kansas City.

32. Xavier Thomas • DE • Clemson

Another edge rusher would take this defense to another level, taking some pressure off Frank Clark and Chris Jones and creating problems for offensive coordinators up front. Thomas missed the first part of the 2020 season with persisting COVID-19 symptoms, but he returned to play seven games and record 3.5 sacks. Over his career, he has nine sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss in three seasons.

Thus far in 2021, the Chiefs have clearly focused on upgrading their offensive line. In the eyes of some observers, they may have applied a little too much focus to the task — thereby neglecting other perceived needs such as edge rushers.

So from that perspective, this pick makes a lot of sense. Let’s just hope it isn’t because the Chiefs had an embarrassing loss in the Super Bowl because of a complete collapse of the defensive line — although that’s apparently not what McShay and his colleagues Matt Bowen, Mike Clay, Mina Kimes, Seth Walder and Field Yates (on whose recent power rankings the draft order is based) think is going to happen.