Biggest need: Cornerback
Charvarius Ward, the Chiefs’ best cornerback in 2021, signed with the 49ers as a free agent. Ward allowed just a 44.8% completion rate when targeted, the third-lowest figure in the NFL among defenders targeted 50-plus times. Opposing quarterbacks recorded just a 60.5 rating when targeting Ward, the ninth-lowest figure in the league. Mike Hughes, who started opposite Ward for much of the second half of the 2021 season, also left Kansas City as a free agent.
L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton and DeAndre Baker are currently the projected 2022 starters: not terrible, but not exactly equipped to stop the Bills or Bengals when it matters, either.
Edge rusher is also a huge Chiefs need — “defense” is essentially a huge Chiefs need — but ring-seeking veteran edge rushers will be available at affordable prices after the draft. The Chiefs need someone they can play at cornerback for the next five years. Fortunately, some solid prospects will still be on the board when they pick 29th and 30th overall.
Prospects who might fit: Andrew Booth Jr., Kaiir Elam
Most likely to trade up
Top picks: Nos. 29, 30, 50, 62
After dealing Tyreek Hill, they’re still in the market for receiver help. Armed with two late firsts, they could easily try to move into the teens to secure one of the draft’s top pass-catchers, keeping Patrick Mahomes’ arsenal strong for another title push.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Jameson Williams WR
Hello, Tyreek Hill replacement. Kansas City makes a big leap, dealing with Andy Reid’s old friends to secure maybe the top playmaker of this year’s receiver class. They can afford to be patient with Williams’ injury recovery, securing a fifth-year option and allowing him to grow with Patrick Mahomes.
Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs sent away franchise legend, Tyreek Hill, in a blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins. In return for the speedy wide receiver, the team received picks 29, 50, and 125 in the 2022 NFL Draft, in addition to fourth- and sixth-round selections in 2023. With all this draft capital, Brett Veach can maneuver up and down the board as he pleases.
There is a chance that Jameson Williams’ ACL injury forces a slide to the end of round one, but the more likely option is the Chiefs jumping into the middle of the round to secure a perfect Tyreek replacement. There’s no guarantee that Williams replicates the All-Pro wide receiver, but he has some traits that are perfectly suited for Andy Reid’s system. He is more of an all-around threat than given credit for, and slots in perfectly between JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Since leaving Dallas, Charlton has played with the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers. He did improve to 5.0 sacks in 10 games with Miami, but they waved him in 2020. With the Chiefs and Steelers, the DE totaled 2.5 sacks, nine pressures, and 25 total tackles. The Michigan product signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints this offseason. Despite his lack of performance, the worst part about drafting Charlton was that 2021’s Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt, was still on the board when Dallas chose Charlton in 2017. Bleacher Report somehow didn’t even mention that.
Around the NFL
The league will have three games on Dec. 25 for the first time: two in the afternoon on CBS and Fox, followed by a prime-time contest on NBC. NFL vice president of broadcasting Mike North revealed the tripleheader on a podcast hosted by WGR radio host and Buffalo Bills sideline reporter Sal Capaccio.
“Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there, all due respect to our friends at the NBA. It is something that our friends are interested in,” North said. “If Christmas falls on a Sunday, it makes perfect sense.”
It will be the third straight year the league has played on Christmas. Last year, Green Bay’s 24-22 victory over Cleveland averaged 28.6 million viewers on Fox, making it the third-most-watched game of the 2021 regular season. Indianapolis’ 22-16 win at Arizona averaged 12.6 million on NFL Network, the second-highest-viewed game in network history.
“It’s exciting,” Prescott said at the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, of which he was named co-chair. “I mean throwing this morning and leaving that session, yeah, I mean pumped up is the way I feel, the leg feels, the arm feels, the body feels. Yeah, I’m excited.”
Prescott has battled multiple injuries in the past few years, most notably a gruesome compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle during a Week 5 game in 2020 which led to him missing the rest of the season. And while two ankle surgeries meant Prescott was back under center for the 2021 season, other nagging injuries over the course of the year kept him from playing at full strength for much of the year.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. The class of edge and receiver prospects
When Veach was asked directly about the two positions in this year’s class, the detail differed from one answer to the other.
“The edge class is deep,” Veach noted. “I think there are a lot of talented players there. There are some numbers in [rounds] one through two that play into your equation.”
Veach continued, speaking on the receivers.
“The receiver class is unique this year because you have a lot of different skill sets. The top guys — you have a vertical guy, a bigger guy, you have a shifty guy. You throw in some injuries and some long-term analysis for where they’ll be, it does throw a little bit of a wild card into their final grades and where you take them.”
It’s worth noting that while the Chiefs have had publicly-announced visits with wide-receiver prospects like Jameson Williams and George Pickens, there has been no report of any pre-draft visit with any notable name along the defensive line in this class.
Could the quiet be a result of Kansas City wanting to hold their cards close to the chest when it comes to who they’re targeting to draft for the defensive line?
With how the Tyreek Hill move altered the offseason and possibly prevented them from adding to it in free agency, they could be locking in on a few prospects they believe could give an immediate impact — earning their first-round grade.