Just like any other Monday, Peter King published his “Football Morning in America” column for NBC Sports, while Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer dropped this week’s “MMQB.”
The two writers are in agreement about one thing: when the Kansas City Chiefs host the NFL Draft at Union Station on Thursday night, it will be difficult to predict what’s going to happen.
Breer said that he is excited for the draft... but...
The teams at the top of the draft, though, aren’t quite as [excited] — and that’s thanks to the makeup of a class that’ll have GMs in its upper reaches holding their… breath as they turn in their cards. There’s a lot to like, sure. But there’s plenty to worry about, too, and that’s from the top of the first round all the way to the bottom.
“If you have 15 first-round grades, then the class sucks,” said one general manager Saturday. “And I got less than 15 this year.”
King, however, accounted for the uncertainty by leaning into those making the decisions.
Let me tell you about a GM with a pick in the top 10 for the second straight year. “Last year, I was 90 percent sure of our pick before the draft,” he said. “This year, I’m 25 percent sure.”
There are a couple of reasons this draft is so in flux. Nine of the top 11 teams have a prime football person — coach or GM — in the seat of power for either the first or second year. So there’s not much of a book on many teams. Teams picking one through four have new head coaches, while GMs picking at major pivot points at three (Monti Ossenfort, Arizona) and 11 (Ran Carthon, Tennessee) are running their first drafts.
In their team-by-team predictions for the draft, both writers made some surprising statements about the Chiefs. Rather than do a mock draft, Breer summarized what he has heard about each team’s situation — and in Kansas City’s case, concluded the Chiefs might trade up to take wide receiver Zay Flowers —or a running back — in the first round.
First round: No. 31
Total picks: 10
Needs: WR, OT, RB
What you need to know: The Chiefs are one of the few teams that has already made calls about moving up. And while teams that have talked to them feel like, at least for now, Kansas City is seeing if it can find a discounted way to go up the board, Brett Veach and his crew aren’t doing it for nothing. Targets? I’ve heard Flowers connected to the Chiefs. (He worked out with Patrick Mahomes in Texas last week.) The other name was [Jahmyr] Gibbs. Now, Andy Reid’s taken one running back in the first round in 24 drafts as a head coach and that one (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) hasn’t really worked out. Still, listening to other talk about Gibbs’s fit with Mahomes and Reid can be convincing. “I wouldn’t want to be in the AFC West,” said one NFC exec, “if Gibbs winds up in Kansas City.” If the Chiefs stay put, Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt and Michigan’s massive DT Mazi Smith are two more to watch.
Using the more traditional mock-draft format, King projected a guard to the Chiefs with the 31st pick.
31. KANSAS CITY: O’Cyrus Torrence, guard, Florida.
Andy Reid always wants to take care of both lines, and with Joe Thuney entering his age-31 season, the best guard in the class makes sense here. If you consider Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski a tackle/guard, that’s what Torrence is: the top guard in this class. At 330 pounds, he’s got the reach and wingspan of a tackle, and just ask Jalen Carter his toughest foe this year. I bet he says Torrence.
To be fair, King’s annual Draft Week mock is always accompanied by a statement about how poorly he does them — but that’s probably a statement every national writer should consider making.
Breer’s opinion that the Chiefs might trade up for Flowers is one shared by other pundits, but the idea that Kansas City could trade up for a running back — one who is not named Bijan Robinson — seems crazy on its face. Meanwhile, in the 95 mock drafts we’ve covered on Arrowhead Pride this offseason, not a single one has projected Torrence — or even any other guard — to the Chiefs at 31. (Gibbs, at least, was taken at 31 in a couple of mocks published in February and early March by CBS Sports writer Kyle Stackpole).
But on the other hand, both of these men are well-connected to the league’s decision-makers. Are those movers and shakers using those connections to spread disinformation about a draft that should already be wildly unpredictable? Have Breer and King come across information no one else has discovered? Or do the Chiefs consider their roster so truly free of holes they can truly take the best player available — even if it’s one no one expects?
Beginning on Thursday night, we’ll be finding out.