As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas from April 28-30, we’re taking a look at some of the players the team could be targeting with their 12 draft picks: Round 1 (29 and 30), Round 2 (50 and 62), Round 3 (94 and 103), Round 4 (121 and 135) and Round 7 (233, 243, 251 and 259).
It may not appear that in the first round of the draft, Kansas City is in the market for a defensive tackle — but when we look at the big picture along the defensive line, it could make sense for the team to go that way.
Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt is arguably the best interior defensive lineman of the 2022 draft class — and the Chiefs have had him in for a top-30 visit. While this in no way guarantees he will come to Kansas City, it does provide a glimpse into how general manager Brett Veach feels about him.
Let’s take a look at a talented player who might just be available when the Chiefs go on the clock.
Wyatt’s path to becoming one of the draft’s top players is paved with hard work and dedication. In his first season after high school, he played for Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas, which is one of the more renowned junior college programs in the nation. The Blue Dragons have already produced talented NFL players like Cordarrelle Patterson, Alvin Kamara and De’Vondre Campbell. Wyatt appears to be the next in line.
Once with the Bulldogs, Wyatt immediately saw significant playing time, becoming more involved (and more comfortable) with each passing season. By his junior season in 2020, he was a full-time starter. His 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.
College film evaluation
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.
Devonte Wyatt’s lateral quickness is too much & the LG’s attempt to impede his progress is fruitless pic.twitter.com/kjMdwqUh7U— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) April 4, 2022
On this play, Wyatt is shaded outside of the left guard in the strong side B gap. His lateral quickness allows him to get immediate leverage with his inside shoulder, so he’s easily able to beat the offensive lineman off the ball and get into the backfield — where he almost disrupts the handoff on the way to a huge tackle for loss. The play has zero chance of developing.
Wyatt slingshots passed the RG to shed the block and with little resistance from the RB, the sack is inevitable, he’s so quick pic.twitter.com/DW1tXH9lDM— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) April 4, 2022
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.
Here, we see him get into the blocker — and then when the offensive lineman is off-balance, Wyatt slingshots around him, swatting away a running back’s hopeless block to finish the play with a sack.
Wyatt fights through the double team and plugs the hole leaving nowhere for the ball carrier, he and Jordan Davis wrap him up for minimal gain pic.twitter.com/RUmSeJaGLZ— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) April 4, 2022
Wyatt can also hold his own as a run defender
On this play, fights through a double team. Once the center leaves for the second level, Wyatt maintains his leverage on the guard to plug the gap. He stays square, making the tackle for little gain.
Against NFL offensive lines, Wyatt will need to improve his anchor on these kinds of reps. But he has the potential to do just that.
Wyatt does a great job of eyeing the QB and disrupts the play by batting the ball down at the LOS pic.twitter.com/a3IXFLdii0— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) April 4, 2022
Even when he isn’t tackling a ball carrier or recording a sack, Wyatt can still make plays.
Here, he reads the quarterback’s eyes while hand-fighting with the right tackle. With a perfectly-timed move at the line of scrimmage, he knocks down the pass.
Wyatt is an impressive prospect, perhaps the most impressive being his lateral movements, he lines up outside shade here and still crosses the LG face before contact is made, then the ability to change directions so seamlessly, gives iOL absolute fits pic.twitter.com/iCNb8g4dqz— Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34) April 4, 2022
After his workouts at the NFL Combine and Georgia Pro Day, Wyatt’s athletic profile got more attention. His change-of-direction ability shows up on tape as well.
On this play, we see how fast he can get off the ball. Once again, he shades outside — but this time, Wyatt is so explosive that he crosses the offensive lineman’s face before the blocker can even get a hand on him. Once Wyatt has the leverage, he squares up and penetrates the line to meet the running back in the hole, quickly reacting to the bounce attempt and completing the play.
How he fits with the Chiefs
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. Recently-signed defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth is a quality player who could replace the production lost with Jarran Reed’s departure.
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.