Throughout the offseason, we’ve brought you numerous profiles about players the Kansas City Chiefs might be targeting in the 2022 NFL Draft. As we wait for the Jacksonville Jaguars to go on the clock on Thursday night, let’s review all the players we’ve highlighted.
Karlaftis is a good athlete and a technician, but whether that shows on tape depends on a few factors.
One factor is whether you’re watching him in 2019 or 2021. As a freshman, he was a high-energy player who flew around with reckless abandon. He looked lean and fast, with the ability to close and finish, but he may not have known exactly what he was supposed to be doing. In 2021, he was more of a controlled player who won with strength and technique, but he doesn’t have any bend or burst and could be stymied at the line of scrimmage.
[But] there is something about Karlaftis that screams Chiefs and Steve Spagnuolo. He’s tough, smart, sets a good edge and knows how to use his hands. Karlaftis isn’t often out of position and brings the same high level of effort on every play. He’s known as a high-character guy who is dedicated to his craft. He looks like he might even be able to slide to the inside at times, as he’s pretty comfortable with his hand in the dirt, taking on blockers.
Karlaftis has been described as a “high-floor, low-ceiling” player, and you can see why. He’s got the work ethic that coaches will love and may have some room to develop, so it’s hard to imagine him being a complete “bust.” But I could also see him as a player that gets swallowed up by NFL blockers and doesn’t impact games. Will he justify a top-50 draft pick? It depends on what your expectations are.
After earning increased playing time in 2020’s shortened Big 10 season, Ojabo gained plenty of attention during his 2021 campaign, recording his first collegiate sack against the Washington Huskies in the season’s second game. He finished the season with 11 sacks, 35 tackles (12 for loss) and five forced fumbles — a Michigan single-season record.
Ojabo had a solid performance at the NFL Combine, turning in a 4.55 second 40-yard-dash among other impressive measurements. But during his Michigan Pro Day workout, he suffered a heart-wrenching injury that turned out to be a torn Achilles tendon, which has been reported to be comparable to the one sustained by Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers last season. Akers made a full return in six months.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a track record of preferring bigger defensive ends to use in his base 4-3 scheme. At 6 foot 4 and 250 pounds, Ojabo’s size shouldn’t be an issue. On most occasions, he is able to convert his speed to power. While he is still raw, you can see him still processing what is happening around him — rather than simply reacting. Still, his athleticism has allowed him to play at a high level while learning the game live on Saturday afternoons.
With this player, there is plenty of talented clay that can be molded. Given the glimpses of greatness we have seen from Ojabo, I am ready to take a chance on the kid — hoping that the Chiefs will be able to make him the face of their pass rush.
Early in his evaluation, Mafe’s measurements are polarizing. At 6 foot 4 and 261 pounds, his build is standard. But at 23 years of age (he will turn 24 late in his rookie season), he is an older prospect — and his arm length (32 5/8 inches) is not encouraging.
At Minnesota, Mafe was primarily used as a stand-up edge rusher who went up against both left and right tackles. Then at the Senior Bowl, he spent most of his time with both hands in the dirt as more of a true defensive end. This change improved both his pad level and knee bend, making him harder for offensive tackles to control.
While I wouldn’t consider it likely that Mafe will wear a Chiefs uniform, the logic behind such a pick would be quite simple: bring a rare, freak athlete into the defensive end rotation, positioning him to learn his professional craft with the help of veterans like Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram.
The scheme fit would be simple, too. Any team drafting Mafe will expect him to work primarily as a run-and-chase weak-side run defender who can close from the back side with very rare quickness and explosion. But with more grooming from coaches and veteran players, it is the passing game where Mafe’s highest potential exists. Within his first three years, he could become a player who brings double-digit sack production to a defense. But during the very beginning of his career, expectations should remain reserved.
Across his second and third years with the [Temple University] Owls, Ebiketie totaled six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss — including three forced fumbles in the six-game season of 2020. At Penn State, his production only grew: he racked up 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles while playing more snaps than any other edge defender in this class during the 2021 season
The Chiefs should expect some instant impact from Ebiketie — and I believe they’ll get it. He would immediately be their best option as an edge rusher to create pressure on any given passing down.
He fits as the weak-side defensive end of the formation, the position that Frank Clark has primarily played on early downs — but it’s likely that Clark and someone like Mike Danna would play more on running downs right away.
In the long term, Ebiketie has a chance to be one of the most dangerous edge rushers in the league — but there is room to develop his plan as a pass rusher and his overall play strength.
San Diego State used Thomas in various positions along the line, switching him between edge rusher and the 3-technique (a defensive tackle who lines up over the guard’s outside shoulder). This is primarily due to the fact that Thomas was by far the best player the Aztecs had along their defensive line last season.
When you turn on Thomas’ tape, the first thing that jumps out to you is how much attention he gets from opposing offensive coordinators. He is one of those rare talents that you have to create a specific scheme centered around neutralizing him. The problem with this is that since Thomas lines up at so many positions along the defensive front, it’s hard to know where he will attack you from next.
Although Thomas was an extremely productive player in college, it remains to be seen if this will translate to the NFL. He played the majority of his games against non-Power 5 schools, so he will have to prove that he is more than a big fish in a small pond.
Thomas has the size that the Chiefs like in a defensive end, and he is the type of player they envisioned Chris jones being when they experimented with him on the edge in 2021. Although the Chiefs desperately need an injection of pass-rushing talent, the best part of Thomas’ game is that he is so much more than a situational pass rusher. Due to his stellar run defense, he’s an every-down player who can be left on the field in any situation.
It should be known that part of the reason Williams’ name isn’t brought up more nationally has to do with some off-field concerns of his past. His upbringing, by all accounts, was far from ideal, and he was expelled from the first high school he attended.
More troubling news came in the summer of 2020 when Williams was temporarily suspended from the Ole Miss football team after being arrested for felony-level sexual battery. The charges were soon dropped, and he returned to the team in September 2020.
In 2020, he logged a team-best 4.0 sacks in 6 starts. Closing out his collegiate career in 2021, Williams set a school record with 12.5 sacks and also forced four fumbles.
In the games reviewed through all-22 format, Williams was typically seen aligned with both hands in the ground pre-snap. He also played a 4i-technique often — meaning his helmet was lined up across from the offensive tackle’s inside shoulder. Williams often was on the strong side of the offensive formation with tight ends and wing-backs to contend with on his outside shoulder.
The first thing that should get someone excited when watching Williams is how quickly it becomes apparent that he belongs on an NFL field. Simply put, he pops on tape. Some guys just move differently than others at the college level, and when you see it, you know those players will be playing on Sundays in the near future. That’s Williams.
If the Chiefs are comfortable with the background checks and do select Williams — likely in the third round — they will have secured a long-term starter at defensive end with a Pro Bowl-caliber ceiling and the potential to become an elite-level pass rusher.
The most important note regarding Jackson’s profile from the start is the conversation around his playing weight. While he weighed 254 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine and likely played the 2021 season in that range too, Jackson packed on significant mass in a short span, weighing 273 pounds at his pro day just a few short weeks ago.
This weight was added for a good reason — it is highly likely that NFL talent evaluators/coaches recommended he do so in order to maximize his draft stock and long-term potential. For any concern about how the extra weight might impact his athleticism, Jackson largely put that to rest with elite-level explosion and agility testing.
Kansas City has the current infrastructure in place to give Jackson a solid opportunity to maximize his potential. With Spagnuolo and experienced defensive line coaching minds such as Joe Cullen and Brendan Daly, there would be no shortage of tutelage available to a young player.
At the ideal weight of 265 to 275 pounds, Jackson could fit in as a long-term starting defensive end with the ability to work against interior offensive linemen, especially when executing twists and other defensive line “games” in passing situations. A more rotational-based role in 2022 makes sense if he can sub in and out of the lineup with the likes of Frank Clark, Melvin Ingram (or another veteran of that mold to be signed at a later date), Joshua Kaindoh, Mike Danna — and hopefully, another defensive end draft choice or future trade target.
Wyatt’s memorable senior campaign ended with a second-team All-American nod and a national championship. Wyatt finished 2021 with 39 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Thanks to his natural athleticism and quickness, Wyatt had a lot of success as the primary 3-technique in Georgia’s elite defense. The Bulldogs’ defensive staff loved to use their 6-foot-3, 305-pound lineman in stunts and twists, where he displayed a wide array of skills.
Wyatt’s most impressive skill might be his interior pass rush. He is twitchy — often beating opposing blockers with speed — but he also has some strength, allowing him to win with power, too.
In Chris Jones, the Chiefs already have one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles. While Jones is signed through 2023, the Chiefs could save $20 million against the salary cap by moving on from him after the upcoming season. Wyatt and Jones play similar styles of football; both thrive as pass rushers.
If Jones’ time in Kansas City is running out, Wyatt has the potential to be the long-term answer. But the two of them on the field together for at least one season would give the Chiefs an improved pass rush from the defensive interior.
While Kansas City has plenty of depth at the position, the team still lacks star power — and with the team’s looming decision on Jones, using one of its two first-round picks to acquire a player like Wyatt could make a lot of sense. Bringing Wyatt to Kansas City could require some sort of trade-up — but it would be well worth the price.
After playing primarily as a defensive end during his freshman season, Hall was mostly an interior player for the remainder of his college career; according to PFF, 84% of his snaps from 2019-2021 came from an A-gap or B-gap alignment. Last year, he had one game where he played some snaps aligned outside of the offensive tackle.
In the NFL, Hall projects best as a defensive end in a base 3-4 scheme — meaning that he would play from a 5-tech alignment, head up over the tackle in a two-gapping scheme. That allows him to see fewer double teams than he would as an interior defender in a 4-3 base scheme like the Chiefs use — but not necessarily put him on an island against an offensive tackle on the edge.
So if Kansas City were to draft Hall, he’d likely be used as a defensive end — with the understanding that in specific pass-rushing packages, he can also be used on the interior.
Last season, there was one game he primarily played from an alignment outside of the tackle: Week 1 against Texas Tech. On 18 snaps, he showed a foundation from which he could build — that is, if a team wants to transition him into being exclusively an outside player.
That said, I don’t see the explosion he displays as an interior player translating to the edge. To fit into Kansas City’s defense during both the short and long term, he’ll have to be used in a way that is similar to how the Chiefs have used Jones — who also didn’t impress while he was being used primarily as a defensive end.
Winfrey is a tone-setter who has experience lining up over center or as a 3-technique. With hands like cinder blocks, he is nimble enough to slip between offensive linemen to get into the backfield. Winfrey also possesses an elite bull rush. When he wants to, he can put opposing linemen on skates to collapse the pocket.
Winfrey is not a perfect player, though. His most glaring weak spot is that he is not very quick off the snap. In the film I watched, there were multiple plays in which he was the last to get out of his stance. His slow reaction time can take him out of the play, allowing the opposing lineman to get comfortable.
Winfrey is not a finished product by any means. But he has all of the traits and tools that you want in a top-tier interior rusher. I think that if you get him working with new defensive line coach Joe Cullen, Winfrey is a guy who can make large strides very quickly.
At the Senior Bowl, Winfrey arguably had the best week of any player. As the week progressed, you could see improvement in his hand-fighting during one-on-one drills. And when he was able to come into the game with fresh legs, he dominated.
Winfrey is another low-floor, high-ceiling player who could pay dividends almost immediately.
Hill played all over the field for Michigan and logged plenty of snaps at both safety and in the slot as a cornerback. He could play day one for many NFL teams as their slot cover defender. His speed leaps off the screen during his film study, and he possesses the almost cliché extra gear, but he has it.
The success of Kansas City’s defense is predicated mainly on solid safety play. Tyrann Mathieu was an integral part of that during the three seasons he played for the Chiefs. But time spares no man — and his time as an All-Pro is more than likely behind him, leaving a big hole in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. Hill checks a lot of the same boxes Mathieu did in terms of versatility and football IQ.
Hill would provide the Chiefs with a slot cornerback and someone who could be a regular in the starting lineup as a deep safety. Thornhill has had his role reduced before, and with the depth that was there previously, made it hard for him to remain off the field. With the depth of the position improving and the aforementioned contract year for Thornhill, bringing in Hill with a first-round pick to compete for a starting role isn’t out of the question.
His rookie season impact would be noticeable but looking at the bigger picture, Hill might give the Chiefs precisely what they look for in the back end of their defense.
With Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill, and Deon Bush in the mix, the Chiefs’ safety room has bodies to use on defense — but adding Cine would boost the alignment-versatility possibilities for everyone.
From the get-go, Cine fits best as the free safety in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense — meaning he has plenty of deep-coverage responsibility and isn’t asked to play closer to the line of scrimmage as much as the strong safety.
He can pick up in man coverage, but he looks much more comfortable doing so from a deep alignment. The same level of comfort isn’t replicated when he’s manning up in the slot or just has generally less cushion between him and the receiver. He has the athleticism to keep up in that role and fill it, but it is not one of his strengths currently.
That doesn’t mean Cine can’t play in the box. His reaction skills allow him to be competent against the run, but the physicality doesn’t translate as well to a linebacker alignment when he doesn’t have the same room to build up momentum.
If Elam is selected by the Chiefs, he projects to immediately start as an outside cornerback — especially in three-cornerback sets where Sneed moves into the slot. But Elam has the talent to push Fenton as the depth chart’s second corner.
In college, Elam was a shutdown cornerback, producing well in a conference that in recent seasons has consistently sent wide receivers to the NFL. He has the physical abilities to hold up immediately — and also improve Kansas City’s cornerback group. He should be more of an asset than Mike Hughes was in 2021.
Over the long term, Elam projects not only as a capable starter, but a player with enough ceiling to be worthy of a second contract.
Elam is one of a handful of cornerbacks who should be available near the Chiefs’ first two picks at 29 and 30. Whether it’s appropriate to trade up or trade down, he’d have to be picked early — and I believe his impact would be worth the cost.
We have not seen the Chiefs address cornerback that highly since they drafted Marcus Peters in 2015’s first round — and that pick wasn’t made by general manager Brett Veach.
If Veach is to buck that trend, I believe Elam would make that decision worth it.
One characteristic that separates Gordon from others in the class is that he is extremely fluid and loose in his hips; when carrying receivers in coverage, he can make seamless transitions. His foot speed and footwork are rare qualities among cornerbacks, making him particularly dangerous in coverage.
Thanks to Gordon’s lightning-quick feet (and his dance background), he doesn’t waste time or make small mistakes in his lower half. His speed burst (and foot speed) allow him to take some chances in coverage. In the NFL, this will give him a large margin for error; he’ll be able to recover quickly as he grows into the mental part of the game.
In defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, Gordon’s physicality and burst will be a welcome addition to the cornerback group. With his ability to play both outside and in the slot — and the quick burst that allows him to go wherever he is needed — Spagnuolo will have another chess piece to move around.
Gordon possesses elite physical tools: short-area quickness, foot speed and ball skills. While he has some shortcomings, they look like they can easily be fixed — or should go away with more meaningful reps.
Since he only ran the 40-yard dash, Gordon’s NFL combine performance was a disappointment. This, however, should not affect his projection; his tape shows that he is more of a lateral athlete than one with long speed.
In a very talented cornerback class, Gordon has the potential to become a Day 2 steal — but it also wouldn’t be surprising if a contender in need of corner help selected him in the back half of the first round.
Jones played his junior and senior years at Houston after transferring from Troy. Over four college seasons, he recorded nine interceptions, with a total of 134 return yards and one pick-six. He terrorized competition in the return game, with six career touchdowns from kick returns and three from punts. He also totaled 15 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Most of Jones’ tape shows him lined up as an outside cornerback, though with a tiny frame at 5 feet 8 and 174 pounds and less than 29-inch arms, that will not be an option in the NFL. Jones did not run at the combine or Houston’s pro day as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. While he has not yet been connected to the Chiefs, he does have several top-30 visits scheduled and is expected to be full-go for training camp.
Jones would be unlikely to see immediate playing time on defense; it would be very unlike Reid and staff to ask him to focus on anything more than return duties to start his career. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likely would not be enamored with Jones’ size, though his playmaking potential as a slot corner would merit development. The Chiefs appear to have sought this type of player in recent drafts. The Chiefs signed former Clemson cornerback Mark Fields after the 2019 draft and Nebraska cornerback Dicaprio Bootle in last year’s undrafted free agency. They brought a similar playing style and had a similar role projection as Jones, though neither were as dramatically undersized.
Jones’ return ability gives him a relatively high floor to stick on an NFL roster. Establishing a role for him on offense or defense is likely to take a least a season’s worth of development, but the Chiefs’ staff has shown a willingness to be patient for such a potential payoff.
If the Chiefs were to add only Bryant to the cornerback room this season, that could be disastrous. If the Chiefs manage to add a veteran starter (or use a top-50 selection on a cornerback), they likely would pass on Bryant.
But where a selection of Bryant could really pay off would be in combination with a more athletic raw talent at the position. The Chiefs are known to have visited Fayetteville State cornerback Joshua Williams and Gregory Junior of Ouachita Baptist — two very athletic prospects from lower levels of competition. With 12 selections, the Chiefs would have the ability to pair a high-upside player who may need extended development with a high floor option like Bryant, who likely will be able to contribute early in his rookie season.
With Fenton entering the last season of his contract (and Sneed possibly in line for an extension after the season), the Chiefs also need numbers in the position group. Bryant’s understanding of the game would make him a good addition to meetings, a dependable option to rotate in sub-packages — and when needed — a trusted spot starter.
If Kansas City selects him, I believe Emerson would immediately become the third starting cornerback, playing across from Fenton as Sneed operates from the slot. In my opinion, Emerson’s strengths and weaknesses are very similar to those Ward brought to the table.
But over the long term, Emerson has room for overall improvement. For starters, he is one of the draft’s youngest prospects; he won’t turn 22 until midway through his rookie season. On the field, he shows a high football IQ that makes me confident he can overcome the holes in his physical skillset. And I’d rather tame an aggressive player than try to amp up a low-energy guy.
His strengths align with Spagnuolo’s preferences. That’s why I’m confident that the Chiefs can maximize Emerson’s potential — just they did with Ward, who was also a less-impressive athlete.
Emerson is a cornerback who is likely to go on Day 2 — but exactly where is hard to say. While I believe he’s worthy of a late second-round pick, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler graded him as a fifth-round selection.
But no matter where he is ultimately selected, everything about his profile should fit the Chiefs well.
Moving into a starting role in 2021, Alabama’s Nick Saban lined him up at almost every spot you can imagine, totaling 79 receptions for 1,572 yards — a whopping 19.9 yards per catch — along with 15 touchdowns.
Williams tore an ACL during the national championship game just a few months ago, so he has not participated in any pre-draft physical testing.
The conversation around Williams’ playmaking ability always begins with long speed — and rightfully so. The smooth strides he uses to accelerate and separate from fast corners downfield are rare.
His ability to stress defenses downfield is elite — and would immediately pose problems for NFL defenses. Of course, there are few quarterbacks as well-equipped to take advantage of this than Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.
In addition, Williams’ athleticism enables him to frequently run away from coverage on full-speed routes along the horizontal plane. Based on recent history, the Chiefs’ offense could very often position a player like Williams on those kinds of routes.
It seems entirely possible that Williams will be ready for the start of the regular season. But either way, he would have the potential to top out what would be a better all-around wide receiver room than Kansas City had in 2021 — yes, even without Tyreek Hill.
In the COVID-plagued 2020 Big Ten, Olave caught seven touchdowns over the seven-game season, putting together three different two-touchdown performances. He again amassed double-digit touchdowns, topping his old career mark with 13 in 2021. He also set career numbers in receptions and yards with 65 catches and 936 receiving yards in his senior campaign.
Adding speed never hurts a football team, and Olave checks that box. He can pair the speed with a developed route tree that Andy Reid and the rest of the staff can optimize. On top of the speed, routes and ball skills, he can adapt to backyard football when the play breaks down. He doesn’t give up and always looks for a way to get open, which is where Tyreek Hill held a ton of his production.
Olave is one of the best receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft class, so odds are not in the Chiefs’ favor for him to fall down many boards. Rumors are swirling that teams are more likely looking to trade back, so it shouldn’t be too tricky for Veach to secure a trade partner if he does see Olave as his guy.
The pick makes sense and he would give Patrick Mahomes a reliable option early in his career. He is someone I can see developing into Mahomes’ most trusted target down the road. He can get open in short, intermediate and deep routes, and at the end of the day, he would give the offense the firepower so many are afraid will be missing.
Standing 6 feet 2, Burks certainly fits the profile the Chiefs seem to be targeting: a thick-bodied athlete who moves well for his size. While his NFL Combine and pro day numbers don’t jump off the screen (4.55 40-yard dash), he plays faster.
Despite playing one of the most diva-filled positions in football, Burks comes across as a level-headed, smart and humble player.
Right now, the Chiefs have more questions about their wide receivers than they have answers — and after 2022, it gets murkier. Only Marquez Valdes-Scantling is under contract for 2023.
If recent acquisitions are an indicator of a shift in the team’s wide-receiver philosophy, Burks is just the kind of player the Chiefs are seeking. Acquiring him would give Mahomes an elite offensive weapon as he moves into the next stage of his career.
If Dotson were to enter the fold in Kansas City, his playing style would complement the receiving skillsets of the rest of the receiving corps immediately — including tight end Travis Kelce. He is an off-ball receiver — in the slot or on the perimeter — who can get open against secondary coverage at all levels of the field, and provide trustworthy hands for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to trust in tight windows or sideline throws.
That said, Dotson shouldn’t be penciled into a complementary role for his career — and one indicator that he could be more than that is his willingness to attack the ball in the air no matter the circumstance.
He has an incredible catch radius for his size, which, combined with his ability to separate, makes him nearly an impossible target to miss. When you factor in that he’d have the best quarterback in football throwing him the rock, Dotson could develop into a heavily-targeted receiver that racks up statistics like he did in 2021 at Penn State.
At the combine, Moore posted solid numbers: a 4.41 40-yard dash, a 34.5-inch vertical jump and a 7.13 time in the three-cone drill. While his 5-foot-10, 195-pound frame does not stand out, he created buzz with hands that measured 10 1⁄4 inches. By far, they were the largest measured among invited receivers. In fact, Moore’s hands are larger than all quarterbacks measured at the combine — and Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos is the only active starting quarterback with hands as large as Moore’s.
If the Chiefs select a receiver like Moore, that player will inevitably be compared to Tyreek Hill. That is unfortunate. While Moore has plenty of playmaking potential, he will never be mistaken for the former Kansas City star.
But like Hill, Moore is excellent at playing through coverage and tracking the ball under tough circumstances. It remains to be seen whether the combine hand size that raised his draft profile will aid him against much better competition at the next level.
At his size, Moore is much smaller than the other receivers Kansas City has targeted this offseason — although that could mean he can provide a complement to them. Moore can be a dependable target that quarterback Patrick Mahomes could use in a large portion of the team’s plays. But after years of seeing him throw to a Hall of Fame talent, Chiefs fans will need to temper their expectations; Moore compares to Emmanuel Sanders much better than he does to Hill.
Drafting Pickens doesn’t come without its risks. He has struggled to stay healthy. But the results when he has been on the field have been off the charts. I cannot remember a time when I saw a prospect with the in-air body control that Pickens possesses.
He sacrifices his body and gives everything he has to find a way to haul in every target thrown his way, which may explain why he struggles to stay healthy.
There are questions about Pickens’ maturity. In his first game back from injury, he was ejected for getting in a fight with Georgia Tech defensive back Tre Swilling. You cannot behave that way on the football field — especially when you haven’t played in eight months. Pickens needed all the reps he could get to help get his knee back to full strength.
Of all of the top-end talent in this draft, I would say that Pickens is the most volatile from an investment perspective. If you told me that after a few months of working with the Chiefs training staff that Pickens will be stronger and more durable, and goes on to become a perennial All-Pro, then I would say I can see it happening.
But if you also said, he is going to have off-field problems and be injured for 80% of his career and struggled to get his footing and make an impact because of it; I wouldn’t be surprised either.
The potential is there for Pickens to be one of the best wide receivers in football. When you watch him on film, there is no weakness to his game beyond his ability to stay on the field.
Ezukanma brings a completely different set of tools than any NFL wide receiver who has been paired with Mahomes. His most likely comparison would be Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers or Cordarrelle Patterson of the Atlanta Falcons, each of whom has thrived as a hybrid running back/wide receiver.
Individual teams are likely to be higher on Ezukanma than draft pundits have been. His draft slot will likely be closer to his agent’s Day 2 prediction (that is, the second or third rounds) rather than in the late rounds predicted by some publications.
Hill’s unprecedented success has caused more and more smaller, speedy receivers to sneak into the draft’s top 100 selections. Samuel’s breakthrough could create similar opportunities for raw (but physical) prospects like Ezukanma. Furthermore, the recent explosion in the values of free-agent wide receiver contracts is also likely to push wideouts further up the draft boards, leading to many players being selected earlier than expected.
The Chiefs are unlikely to build draft plans around Ezukanma to the point where they would pass on opportunities to address the position in early rounds. But if they do not like the value they find with their top 50 picks, they could pull the trigger on him earlier than expected — likely late on Day 2 or early on Day 3.
Scott Kennedy tweeted that Jackson State defender James Houston IV was scheduled to visit the Chiefs on [April 6]. Houston is a hybrid player with experience as both an off-ball linebacker and edge rusher at the college level.
After not receiving an invitation to the NFL Combine, Houston put up incredible numbers at his Pro Day — and apparently, the Chiefs took notice.
[In 2021, Jackson] primarily played on the defensive line from the edge. 95% of his defensive snaps came in an alignment outside of the tackle along the line of scrimmage.
From that position, he boasts burst and explosiveness in short areas — utilizing the few advantages he has at his size for that position.
In the NFL, it’s much harder to succeed as an edge rusher at his height and frame. Plus, he may have come in at 244 pounds — but he reportedly played at a weight around 20 pounds lighter than that in 2021, and it’s impossible to tell if he loses some of the burst and explosion when putting on extra mass.
He will have to find his way as an off-ball linebacker first, which he isn’t a stranger to.
That leads me to project him as a base-formation linebacker, likely the SAM position that utilizes his hybrid abilities without putting him in too many disadvantageous spots as a linebacker in coverage or an edge defender against the run.