As the NFL Draft draws closer, scouting and coaching staffs across the league are finalizing their boards as they host visits with draft prospects. Let’s look at another Kansas City Chiefs draft projection.
The first round doesn’t go well for Kansas City. Four wide receivers, five tackles and several of the top edges are off the board before Pick 31. Given the value available here, it would be a good place to attempt a trade-down to grab more picks — but every trade needs a partner. The Chiefs might have to use the 31st pick anyway.
The Pick: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Analysis: With the primary positions picked over, Kansas City gets one of the top tight ends in the draft. Despite being 6 foot 8 and 265 pounds, Washington stood out at the NFL Combine with his incredible athleticism. He’s an excellent blocker that many scouts consider as an extra tackle on the field. An athletic freak, his traits make his upside as a pass-catcher seem unlimited; he has lots of room to grow as a receiver, but has all the tools to do it.
The Chiefs have been playing sets with three tights more than ever — and also have remaining questions at right tackle. Washington addresses both situations — and gets time to develop with one of the greatest of all time.
With the 63rd pick, Kansas City moves back to its main positions of need: edge rusher, tackle and receiver. Fortunately, there is some EDGE value to be found in this range — especially if you’re defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
The Pick: Tuli Tuipulotu, EDGE, USC
This Trojan meets two out of three traditional physical thresholds for Spagnuolo’s edge rushers. His 32 1/4-inch arms are a little short — but only slightly shorter than those of George Karlaftis. Tuipulotu brings athleticism — and a frame that will need NFL development to make him into a true three-down player. Like Charles Omenihu, he wins as a pass rusher more often on the inside than the outside, but provides strong run support from the edge. He would pair nicely with what the Chiefs already have on the outside.
Round 2 feels like a bit of a no-mans-land at wide receiver. While plenty of receivers will be taken in the second round, they’d be a reach for Kansas City at 31 — and most will probably be gone by Pick 63. In Round 3, however, there are several players who have flaws — but also have reasons to buy-in.
The Pick: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
Analysis: Even with the recent addition of Richie James (and the continuing development of Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney), the Chiefs need a receiver who is more of a physical threat. Mingo has the size and the speed to play on the outside, brings strong blocking to the running game and can also be a weapon after the catch. Check out Nate Christensen’s Mingo film breakdown.
At this point, Kansas City is looking for role players and depth for one of the league’s best rosters. Still, the team hasn’t yet addressed tackle in the draft.
The Picks: Nick Saldiveri, tackle, Old Dominion and Keaton Mitchell. running back, East Carolina
Analysis: It’s shocking how low the consensus is on Saldiveri. Analyzing his tape (and athletic profile), it’s easy to see he’s a high-floor player. He displays excellent core strength, excelling both in pass blocking and stretch run concepts — something that the Chiefs might run more often when they have more athletic offensive linemen.
Mitchell happens to be a good match for stretch running schemes, too. While he’s undersized, he has elite speed and great open-field skills. He’s also a receiving threat and a willing pass blocker. He embodies Andy Reid’s running scheme: find the open lane and burst through it. He would be a nice change of pace from Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
This mock illustrates what might happen if the Chiefs can’t use Pick 31 on tackle, wide receiver or edge rusher. At the end of the first round, they get a very good player for a position that has long been the team’s bread and butter. In the second, Tuipuloto doesn't have a really high ceiling — but his floor is still high. Mingo brings something the Chiefs are missing without Juju Smith-Schuster. At worst, Saldiveri will be a swing tackle on one of football’s best offensive lines. Finally, Mitchell could be schemed to success.