For Kansas City Chiefs fans, the NFL draft season has been underway for more than a month — but it’s always at about this time that the draft becomes a much more significant part of everyday conversation among sports fans.
That’s because the NFL Scouting Combine is taking place in Indianapolis. The first on-field workouts begin on Thursday, March 3, at 3 p.m. Arrowhead time. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends will be the first to hit the field.
Offensive linemen, running backs and specialists will work out on Friday, while defensive linemen and linebackers will take the field on Saturday — both at 3 p.m. Then on Sunday, defensive backs will finish the cycle at 1 p.m.
As you follow the Combine, here are three things for Chiefs fans to watch:
1. Wide receiver 40-yard dash times
The 40-yard dash can be an over-discussed measurement in a player’s physical profile — but specifically for wide receivers prospects, it’s a significant data point that can affect their draft stock. The order in which the top prospects of this receiver class will be selected could well be determined by their 40 times.
Wide receivers Drake London from USC and Garrett Wilson of Ohio State are spectacular players on the field, but it’s hard to gauge how fast they’ll be in the straight-line test. If either of them is measured between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds, they could be vaulted into the draft’s top 15 picks — but if they run at 4.6 seconds or slower, NFL teams are likely to sour on them. This could make them available when Kansas City is on the clock with the 30th pick.
If you can't run, you probably can't play. https://t.co/lHxREMSbhR— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 23, 2022
Wide receivers who run 4.6 seconds or slower at the Combine rarely become starting-caliber NFL players.
But a wide receiver like Arkansas’ Treylon Burks could make himself the top receiver selected — depending on how fast the 6-foot-2, 225-pound wideout really is. Ohio State’s Chris Olave is already known as the biggest speed threat of the group — but if he is timed between 4.2 and 4.3 seconds, he could be selected much higher than is currently thought.
Outside of the top tier, one wideout whose 40 times could vault him into the first round is former Georgia wide receiver George Pickens.
Georgia WR George Pickens said he’s 100%, will run the 40 tomorrow — but will wait to do broad jump at Pro Day.— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) March 2, 2022
Said he’s expecting to run in the “4.3s.” pic.twitter.com/ZVP04lRbqn
If he does run as fast as he predicted, he could easily move from Day 2 into the first round.
2. Defensive line measurements and testing
The Chiefs are going into the fourth season with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. There may have been some changes among his assistants — but as long as Spagnuolo is running things, we know what kind of system he’ll run.
His scheme asks for the starting defensive ends to control the edge against the run with a strong physical foundation: good mass or lengthy arms that allow them to control the blocks in which they engage.
The addition of edge rusher Melvin Ingram last season contradicted those tendencies — but he was a veteran. If the Chiefs are to draft an EDGE in the first two days, they’ll want one who can be molded into the staff’s ideal player over an extended period of time.
There are a few prospects that seem to have the frame the Chiefs desire — but it will still be important to see how they measure at the Combine.
- Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
- Drake Jackson, USC
- DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky
If these players can look as athletic as they are on tape — and come in at weight close to (or over) 260 pounds — they could be intriguing choices for the Chiefs after the first round.
On the flip side, there are mid-round prospects who have already shown to have the requisite weight to hold up on the edge — but still need to prove they can move well enough to be three-down players at the next level.
- Alex Wright, UAB
- Michael Clemons, Texas A&M
- Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma
Watch to see how well these bigger EDGE prospects test athletically.
3. Athletic testing for safeties
The last two times the Chiefs have used a draft pick to select a safety prospect — L’Jarius Sneed and Juan Thornhill — they heavily valued athleticism.
Both prospects were in at least the 94th percentile in broad jump and vertical jump among defensive backs while also being both above the 85th percentile in the 40-yard dash. Neither were 50th percentile or higher in arm length or hand size.
Yes, Sneed converted to cornerback — but when he’s in the slot, he is still being used as a strong safety would be. With the Chiefs potentially looking for another safety — in a class with plenty to choose from at pick 30 or later — watch for the players with the best testing numbers.
Some safety prospects who are expected to have great Combines:
- Daxton Hill, Michigan
- Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
- Nick Cross, Maryland
An excellent performance from the first two might put them out of reach for the Chiefs at pick 30 — but Cross currently projects as a Day 2 pick.