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Chiefs get an ‘A’ grade for their 2021 draft picks

After he’s seen them play for a year,’s Nick Shook thinks Kansas City’s draft picks are worth a top grade.

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

In the first of a series of postseason division-by-division grade cards for the 2021 NFL Draft, writer Nick Shook has published his grades for the AFC West’s teams. After giving the Kansas City Chiefs a B+ a year after their 2020 draft, Shook has moved Kansas City to the head of the class for 2021.

Kansas City Chiefs | Picks: 6 | Grade: A

Round 2
(58) Nick Bolton, LB, 16 games/12 starts
(63) Creed Humphrey, C, 17 games/17 starts

Round 4
(144) Joshua Kaindoh, DE, 3 games/0 starts

Round 5
(162) Noah Gray, TE, 16 games/1 start
(181) Cornell Powell, WR, 0 games/0 starts

Round 6
(226) Trey Smith, OG, 17 games/17 starts

Kansas City’s grade is all about maximizing picks. The Chiefs sent their first-round pick in 2021 and other selections to Baltimore to acquire left tackle Orlando Brown (assets well spent), then nailed their second-round pick by choosing Bolton, a Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team selection who graded out as the 13th-best linebacker in the league, per Pro Football Focus.

Kansas City followed that up by finding its center of the future in Humphrey, who began his NFL career by performing better than any other player at the position, per PFF. He also earned PFWA All-Rookie honors. Kaindoh missed most of his rookie season, having landed on injured reserve in early October with an ankle injury.

Gray saw some playing time at tight end behind Travis Kelce and Blake Bell while also playing special teams regularly. Powell was cut at the end of camp and returned as a practice squad member before signing a reserve/future contract in February.

And finally, a premier Day 3 find came in the form of Smith, who teamed with Humphrey and Joe Thuney to make an excellent interior trio. Smith also earned PFWA All-Rookie recognition and will be an important part of Kansas City’s offensive line for years to come.

Shook gave the Denver Broncos an A- for their 2021 rookie class, while giving the Las Vegas Raiders a B+ and the Los Angeles Chargers a B.


The day after the NFL Draft concluded last spring, 50% of Arrowhead Pride’s readers were willing to give general manager Brett Veach an A for his picks — while 43% thought Kansas City’s draft was worth a B grade. After a season in which two of the team’s six draft picks became full-time starters, another gained enough experience to be a starter in 2022 — and a fourth became a significant role-player — it looks like Shook would think our readers’ initial evaluation of the class was pretty darned good.

The team enters the coming season with significant needs — particularly on defense — and relatively little cap space. Veach will likely need to get another good grade for his 2022 draft class.


A year later, how would you grade the Chiefs’ 2021 draft?

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