Welcome to the NFL offseason, Chiefs Kingdom.
Over the next week, team rosters will start to come into focus with roster cuts, extension negotiations, “legal tampering,” and free agency — which officially begins at 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time next Wednesday.
The Kansas City Chiefs have already made a couple of moves, while rumors about their next ones have started to fly. Many vital decisions affecting the team’s needs in the NFL Draft are coming soon.
During last week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, most of the national headlines were about quarterback Anthony Richardson and EDGE Nolan Smith — both of whom are likely to hear their names called long before the Chiefs are on the clock at Pick 31.
But let’s focus our efforts on the prospects who should fit in Kansas City — and be somewhere within their reach. Here are some of the Chiefs’ draft prospects trending after the combine.
Offensive tackle Darnell Wright, Tennessee: A natural right tackle, Wright checked many boxes in Indianapolis. He has the size (6’5”, 333 pounds) and arm length (33 3/4”) to be an effective NFL tackle. He moved well in drills and put up some numbers to demonstrate his explosion and athleticism: a 29” vertical jump, a 9’6” broad jump and a 5.01-second 40-yard dash. With the Volunteers, he shut down some elite EDGE prospects like B.J. Ojulari and Will Anderson Jr. — who said Wright was the best tackle he faced in college. Some teams will stick to the old-fashioned idea that right tackles should be selected on Day 2 or later. But with Andrew Wylie hitting free agency, the Chiefs might see Wright as a perfect fit at the end of the first round.
Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State: Two traits that frequently seem to translate to NFL success are elite quickness and route-running. Smith-Njigba showed his explosion with a 10’5” broad jump and a 35” vertical jump — and looked fantastic running routes in his drills. But he separated himself from the pack (pun intended) with his short-area quickness, turning in one of the fastest 3-cone drills in recent history. It was far and away the best in the class. Smith-Njigba might not make it to 31 — but if he does, he’d be fantastic in red and gold.
EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern: Considered a mid-second-round pick, Adebawore absolutely destroyed the combine. His official 4.49-second 40-yard dash (at 282 pounds!) was the fastest by a defensive lineman in at least 20 years. He also turned in a 37 1/2” vertical, a 10’5” broad jump, a 6.9-second 3-cone drill and 30 bench-press reps. Whether you consider him an EDGE or interior defensive lineman, Adebawore is an elite athlete. He’s so athletic that he’d grade out as 9.58 (out of 10) as a wide receiver. He’s a rare prospect who also has some good tape to back up his testing — and he’s still improving. He looks like a player who could now hear his name called on Day 1.
Others improving their stock at the combine: Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell, Old Dominion tight end Zach Kuntz, Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, Nebraska wide receiver Trey Palmer, Georgia tight end Darnell Washington, Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta and Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee.
Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, LSU: This might represent a classic case of film versus measurables. As a freshman, this highly-touted five-star recruit set an SEC record with a 14-catch, 308-yard, three-touchdown game — but after that, Boutte’s career didn’t quite take off. After an ankle injury in 2021 (and missing part of 2022), his production wasn’t up to his previous standard. But on film, you can see a player who can make big plays in big situations, with a good mix of size, speed, yards-after-catch ability and route-running. But his Combine workouts were disappointing across the board. Boutte failed to break 4.5 in the 40-yard dash — with a bad 1.58-second 10-yard split — and was near the bottom of all receivers with a 9’10” broad jump and a 29” vertical jump. Teams will have to decide whether to trust his tape or his measurables. One way or another, he probably lost some money in Indianapolis.
EDGE Mike Morris, Michigan: Defensive ends who are 6’5” and 275 pounds (and who can play the run effectively) tend to be in Kansas City’s wheelhouse. Unfortunately, the Chiefs’ record Speaks to the fact that many of these big guys lack athleticism and pass-rushing ability. Morris looks like a Steve Spagnuolo defensive end, but his testing in the combine revealed his limitations. Coming in last in his position group in the 40-yard dash (4.95) isn’t great. Falling down in agility drills is worse. Previously regarded as a third-round pick, Morris might now be available on Day 3.
Wide receiver Tyler Scott, Cincinnati: This was a recurring theme at the combine: small receivers running more slowly than expected. There have only been a few players under 5’10” and 200 pounds who have succeeded in the NFL — but they have generally had elite speed and quickness. If you want to be the next Wes Welker, DeSean Jackson, Darren Sproles or Tyreek Hill, you must make guys miss and run away from tacklers. Many thought Scott was similar to those players — but at the combine, he didn’t run the 4.3 40-yard dash he was expected to have. His 4.44 time puts his playmaking ability at the next level in question. It also focuses more on other issues, including play strength, drops and his skinny build. Perhaps he’ll improve his time at a pro day — but at least for the moment, Scott’s stock is likely down.
Others hurting their stock at the combine: Georgia safety Christopher Smith, Houston wide receiver Tank Dell, Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, USC wide receiver Jordan Addison, Army EDGE Andre Carter II, TCU quarterback Max Duggan, Texas A&M running back Devon Archane and Georgia cornerback Keelee Ringo.
Value (sleeper) pick: Guard Andrew Vorhees, USC
You never want to root for injuries — especially in the offseason — and you don’t expect a guy to tear his ACL at the combine. Vorhees’ devastating injury could have been an excuse to leave Indianapolis. But instead, he stuck around to put up 38 bench press reps — the best mark of the week. On film, he’s at least a third-round prospect — and a mauler in the running game. But now that he’ll likely miss a significant portion of his rookie season, it may take a team willing to “redshirt” him. Given its stellar interior offensive line (with one veteran nearing the end of his contract), the Chiefs could be that team. I can’t think of a better use of a Day 3 pick than to stash a future starter, allowing him a full year to recover and be ready for his opportunity.