As we prepare to watch the Kansas City Chiefs make their selections in each year’s NFL Draft, I am reminded of four universal truths:
1. Best player available (BPA) is a fallacy
Reaches and steals only matter to pundits and bloggers on draft day — no team drafts without consideration of need. As a result, their boards are highly subjective. Expect every single team to announce after each selection that they got the “No. 1 player on our board at the time.”
2. It’s really all about fit and roster construction
If the player fits what a team wants to do and makes the roster better, it is a good pick. The same player could hit or bust based only on where he lands, because coaching staffs vary widely in what they are looking for and what they expect players to do. When players slide, keep that in mind. If the player doesn’t fit what the team is looking for, they might just let them continue to fall.
3. The real definition of value
If your guy won’t be available the next time you pick, he is worth the current pick. Period. Now, if a team takes a guy two or three rounds ahead of his projection, it means one of two things: either the projections were way off (which happens), or they thought another team was going to take the player before its next pick. This happens sometimes — but maybe not as often as general managers might tell you after the fact.
4. Teams have (a lot) more than one pick
The strongest need doesn’t necessarily equal the first pick. A team isn’t ignoring a position if they spend their first pick (or in the case of the Chiefs, their first two picks) elsewhere. They might have just liked a player at a different position more — and have a good feeling that they can address their bigger needs later. Wait to see the full draft class before making a harsh judgment.
Now let’s get down to cases. Here are some Chiefs-specific notes:
1. There are two types of football players: Creators and Preventers
You’re looking for consistency in your Preventers, and big plays from your Creators. I believe that the Chiefs need a few more Creators: pass rushers who can close out games, secondary players who can force turnovers and receivers who can score from anywhere.
2. In the early rounds, the Chiefs need to get impact players
Hitting singles and doubles won’t be enough. The team needs to be using its unprecedented draft capital to swing for the fences, adding top-level talent that you’ll notice on game days.
At wide receiver, Kansas City has already done a lot to mitigate the loss of Tyreek Hill. Nobody can replace him, but the team has already added solid No. 2 and No. 3 wideouts. If they had to, the Chiefs could start the season with Juju Smith-Schuster, Marques Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman (along with the team’s other weapons) around quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But what they lack is a true, bona fide No. 1 wide receiver. That should be the singular offensive focus in this draft: finding a guy with that upside.
Potential fits: Jameson Williams, George Pickens, Christian Watson
At edge rusher, the Chiefs have yet to make any improvements. They retained Frank Clark, but still need to find a legitimate pass-rushing threat to start across from him. Melvin Ingram may or may not return — but either way, this is a critical need in both the short and long-term.
Do they draft a Steve Spagnuolo type — even if the upside is very limited?
Potential fits: George Karlaftis, Michael Clemons and Kingsley Enagbare
Or do they go with a home-run swing, making a move for a guy that maybe doesn’t fit the mold — or could take time to develop — but could be player who can get double-digit sack production?
Potential fits: David Ojabo, Arnold Ebiketie, Boye Mafe and Sam Williams
In the secondary, there are a couple of spots to fill — and the emphasis might once again be on versatility. Getting a guy who can play corner or safety — and has good ball skills — could once again make the Kansas City defense just as dangerous and unpredictable as it was when Tyrann Mathieu was at his best.
Potential fits: Daxton Hill and Damarri Mathis
3. In later rounds, the Chiefs should bet on traits
Here they should be looking for guys who can do a couple of things really well, which will line them up with specific roles on the team. One example would be a guy who can return kicks at an elite level.
Potential fits: Marcus Jones, Calvin Austin III and Zonovan Knight
Another would be an undersized pass-rushing specialist who can line up as a SAM linebacker.
Potential fits: Nic Bonitto, Darrian Beavers, Brandon Smith and Chance Campbell
Yet another could be a linebacker who is great in coverage — someone who could take over the dime role previously occupied by Ben Niemann.
Potential fits: Christian Harris, Troy Anderson and Terrel Bernard
4. The Chiefs should double up at key positions
They could take two EDGE players in a pairing that hedges the team’s bets — a safe, early contributor and a long shot who could take time to develop (or get healthy).
Potential fits: George Karlaftis and David Ojabo
They could also pair two different kinds of players who could potentially see the field together — like an inside-outside hybrid player and a true EDGE.
Potential fits: Joshua Paschal and Boye Mafe
Given the team’s lack of depth at the position, Kansas City could also take two cornerbacks. They could take an outside prospect with a true slot corner.
Potential fits: Kyler Gordon and Roger McCreary
Or the team could take two swings at getting a starting outside corner — without using a first-round pick.
Potential fits: Tariq Woolen and Martin Emerson
The bottom line
Whatever happens over the next three days, it could (and should) be transformational. It will set the stage for the next phase of the Patrick Mahomes era in Kansas City. Here at Arrowhead Pride, we’ll have you covered from the first pick to the last of the undrafted free agents.