Talon - Nakobe Dean
Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean fits the bill as a potential “off-the-wall” first-round draft choice for the Chiefs, given the fact that Brett Veach has taken a linebacker in the second round in each of the last two drafts (Willie Gay, 2020 Pick 63 | Nick Bolton, 2021 Pick 58).
Gay and Bolton enter 2022 as the clear-cut starters in Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense. In the wake of Anthony Hitchens’ departure, Kansas City signed a pair of linebackers in Elijah Lee and Jermaine Carter, but drafting Dean would add even more talent and depth to the group. Dean is an undersized backer at 5 feet 11 and weighing just under 230 pounds, but he is a rare athlete for the position.
Ron - Trevor Penning
The Northern Iowa right tackle would absolutely fit into the nastiness that the Chiefs’ offensive line room has developed over the last year.
Penning stood out in games and at the Senior Bowl due to how he finishes blocks — doing so with some bully-like energy and extracurricular shoves. It’s what gets him noticed, but he’s also a potential first-round pick because of how quick his feet are and how natural a mover he is; that combined with the raw power he played with has been enticing enough to be consistently mocked in the first 32 picks throughout this offseason.
After NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” co-host Peter Schrager suggested during Monday’s show that there might be a run on wide receivers in the first round of the draft, Pete Sweeney had some thoughts.
"Talking to team sources about their draft boards, it seems like there are 5 WR's with first round grades. That's Williams, Wilson, Burks, Olave, and London. They may all be gone by the 20's." -- @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/IakaUFDc0x— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) April 11, 2022
This brings up an intriguing puzzle to be figured out for Chiefs general manager Brett Veach as he arguably enters his most important draft as the team’s lead personnel man. Schrager has become as plugged-in an NFL insider as they come. If his suggestion that wide receiver-needy teams such as New Orleans and Green Bay will have to trade up at 16 and 22, respectively, Veach will undoubtedly need to trade up for the receiver of his choosing rather than waiting at 29 or 30.
It is important to note that, at the time of this writing, there are still 17 days between now and the first overall pick. Maybe the Chiefs manage to bring in Odell Beckham Jr., in whom they had an interest last year. Perhaps DK Metcalf actually is available, and Veach pulls off another pre-draft stunner. Jarvis Landry has still yet to sign with a club.
But say none of those scenarios come to fruition — and the Chiefs enter the draft weekend with the lingering hole to fill. They have all the ammunition to trade up, as they enter the draft with 12 selections. In addition to those two first-rounders, the Chiefs have two picks apiece in Rounds 2, 3 and 4.
Tuesday brought news that the team’s free-agent defensive end (who is presumed by many to be a player that Kansas City is likely to re-sign after the draft) was visiting another team.
Ingram, 32, appeared in nine 2021 games (with six starts) for the Chiefs after the club acquired him via trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He compiled 15 tackles (seven solo), 11 pressures and a sack for Kansas City during the regular season. In three playoff games, Ingram registered five tackles (four solo) and 2.0 sacks.
Ingram visiting the Dolphins doesn’t necessarily rule out a potential return to the Chiefs. As a reminder, Ingram visited several different teams (including the Chiefs) last offseason before ultimately signing with the Steelers in mid-July.
Then we covered NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter’s interesting analysis of the ideal draft picks for all 32 of the league’s teams. For Kansas City, Reuter said they were Georgia wide receiver George Pickens and USC EDGE Drake Jackson.
In his first mock on February 14, Reuter had Kansas City take Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam. In his March 25 mock draft, he had the Chiefs take wideout Jameson Williams of Alabama and defensive end George Karlaftis of Purdue. And in his most-recent projection on Friday, he called for Veach to trade both of the team’s first-rounders (and a fourth-round pick) to the Baltimore Ravens for the draft’s 14th overall selection, which was he used to select Williams. So you can see the progression of his thinking regarding Kansas City’s options.
This would be a good haul for the Chiefs, addressing two significant positions of need with high-level players — although one of them could conceivably miss some time early in the season.
It is, however, possible to argue that the class has enough depth at wide receiver that Kansas City might be thinking that a defensive back would be a better use of one of their first-round selections. In this exercise, Reuter identifies the Arizona Cardinals as a team that would consider Elam (whom he has previously mocked to the Chiefs) an ideal selection — but Arizona won’t pick until the 55th selection.
Then on Wednesday, we brought you a tantalizing video showing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hard at work in Texas, throwing the ball to his old friends — along with some new ones.
The first few seconds of the new video features his well-known trainer, TeamAPEC’s Bobby Stroupe, followed by some cardio and agility workouts with Chiefs backup quarterback Shane Buechele.
The video continues with a throwing session featuring several of Mahomes’ Chiefs’ teammates (in order of appearance): tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, wide receiver Cornell Powell, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, wide receiver Mecole Hardman and running back Ronald Jones.
Then we covered the newest draft prediction from one of the most visible NFL draft analysts, in which he projected Kansas City would take Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. and Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis in the first round — and then pick two wide receivers in the second: Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore and South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert.
The last we heard from Kiper on March 22 — in a mock published before news of the Tyreek Hill trade came out — he also had the Chiefs take Karlaftis with the 30th pick. His mock draft from three weeks before had sent Minnesota edge rusher Boye Mafe to Kansas City — and back in January, he had the Chiefs select San Diego State defensive end Cameron Thomas at 30.
It’s certainly possible to argue with the particular players Kiper selected — but given the Chiefs’ needs (and the relative depth of those positions in this draft), it’s a pretty smart slate of picks.
Thursday brought news that the Green Bay Packers were taking Watkins to help fill the voids created by trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Chiefs in free agency.
Watkins, 28, spent three seasons with the Chiefs before spending last season as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. As a Chief from 2018-20, he recorded 129 catches for 1,613 yards and eight touchdowns (34 regular-season games). He was the team’s most productive receiver during the 2018 and 2019 playoff runs.
In 2020, Watkins missed the Chiefs’ first two playoff games with a calf injury — and he played only 23 snaps in Super Bowl LV, in which he made one catch for 13 yards. He was limited to 10 regular-season games as he dealt with calf and hamstring injuries. Hamstring issues continued to limit Watkins as a Raven in 2021. In just 13 appearances, Watkins had 27 catches for 394 yards and a touchdown.
On Friday, we learned that a free-agent cornerback — who had been considered to be a player that Kansas City could sign — was headed elsewhere.
The Chiefs being tied to the 31-year-old, former first-rounder indicates they still have plans to upgrade their cornerback room — which, at this writing, consists of a top three of L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton and Deandre Baker. Dicaprio Bootle, Luq Barcoo and Brandin Dandridge round out the room.
But with Gilmore signing the two-year deal worth $14 million guaranteed, it’s likely the Chiefs weren’t willing to go that far. While Gilmore was the defensive player of the year for the 2019 season, he has missed 15 regular-season games since then due to injury.
Then John Dixon began a two-part series that will culminate with a better way to value NFL draft picks. In the introduction, he broke down the pros and cons of the three most commonly used models.
The Jimmy Johnson draft value chart has one big thing going for it: everyone uses it. Whether you like it or hate it, you have to pay attention to it. As the old saying goes, it is the gorilla in the room.
But it has many problems. One is that it only runs out to the 224th pick. That made it obsolete almost immediately upon its formulation — because, in 1994, the NFL started mixing in a round’s worth of compensatory picks after the third through seventh rounds; these so-called comp picks are meant to compensate for team losses in the free-agent market.
An even bigger problem with the Johnson chart is that it places virtually no value on picks after the sixth round. Pick 193 has a value of 14 points, while pick 224 is valued at just two points. We’ll all agree that players taken in the seventh round are less likely to have a significant NFL impact than those taken with the first overall pick. But to suggest that the first pick is more than 200 times more valuable than the 193rd selection (or even worse, 1,500 times more valuable than the 224th pick) simply staggers the imagination.