Pacheco’s expectations were higher. He grabbed a notebook after being drafted and jotted down some things he wanted to accomplish, not necessarily all as a rookie. On that list: make the team, lead the team in rushing, help the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.
“It happened so fast and for me, not expecting it but dreaming of it, putting [in] the work to get here,” he said. “I’m not surprised that the hard work got me here. I’m just surprised it happened so fast.
“It means the absolute world to me. Especially when you write down in your notes what your goals are and then you come back to them. For me, I’m going to come back to them, grab that pen and check them off.”
What they should do: Trade up.
Let’s finish with the defending champs, who have typically been aggressive in moving up in the first round over the past few seasons, with Patrick Mahomes (2017) as the most famous example. Last year, the Chiefs jumped from No. 29 to No. 21 to take cornerback Trent McDuffie in a trade with the Patriots. The two teams then hooked up again for a second-round trade, but this time, it was the Patriots who moved up for receiver Tyquan Thornton. The Chiefs landed their own wideout in Skyy Moore.
Kansas City general manager Brett Veach & Co. could be looking for another receiver this time, but I wonder if this is the draft in which they target the player who ends up as the long-term replacement for Travis Kelce. The future Hall of Famer is doing virtually unprecedented things for a tight end in his mid-30s, but he eventually has to slow down. Adding a second playmaker at tight end will only help an offense that loved playing out of 12 personnel a season ago.
The Chiefs could stay put and grab a tight end without any question, but if they have a particular affinity for Michael Mayer (Notre Dame) or Dalton Kincaid (Utah), they might need to move up a few spots to beat the Jags (No. 24) and Cowboys (No. 26) to the punch.
6. John Ross III (2017)
Two years later, the Cincinnati Bengals understandably fell in love with John Ross III and his electrifying speed.
Ross dazzled at Washington, catching 17 touchdowns in 2016 while returning four kickoffs for scores in his career. He followed that up with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
Cincinnati landed him ninth overall, but Ross literally struggled from the start. He fumbled on his first career touch and spent most of the year as a healthy scratch. Ross flashed his potential in 2018 and 2019, but injuries stained those seasons and the 2020 campaign.
Ross played in 27 of the possible 64 games with the Bengals before they declined his fifth-year option. He totaled 51 catches for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in his four seasons.
Similar to White, Ross remains an active player but is basically just aiming to hold down a roster spot.
Despite the recent struggles, Burton believes the Broncos can compete for the postseason in 2023.
“I am very excited for this opportunity in Denver,” Burton said. “I’ve played for coach Peyton before so I have seen first hand how great of a coach he is and how nice of a job he does building a team culture.
“I think Denver has done a great job this free agency adding great players to this roster that is already filled with great talent. There is no question this roster is ready to compete at a high level.”
ROUND 2 (63RD): DT MAZI SMITH, MICHIGAN
The Chiefs stick with defense here by solidifying the interior of their defensive line. Smith has drawn comparisons to former Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
The 6-foot-3, 337-pound Smith currently projects as a second-round selection, so this would be an ideal spot to grab the former Wolverine if he’s on the board. He totaled 88 tackles, including six for losses, in college.
Smith’s ability to plug the middle as a complementary piece next to Chris Jones would give opposing offenses headaches. The Chiefs brought back defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi on a one-year deal for a second straight offseason, but a long-term solution is needed here.
Smith fits the bill. And if the comparisons to Poe prove accurate, imagine the fun that Chiefs coach Andy Reid could have creating new editions of “Hungry Pig Right” and “Bloated Tebow” with Smith in mind.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Anton Harrison OT
OKLAHOMA • JR • 6’4” / 315 LBS
There was some thought that Harrison might return to Oklahoma for an NIL deal that was too good to pass up but he’s instead opted for the NFL. He’s one of the top tackles in the class and now the question is whether he finds his way into Round 1 or goes early on Day 2.
Edge, wide receiver
What do you get your friend who has everything? The Chiefs just won their second Super Bowl out of three appearances in the past four seasons. If Kansas City has a weakness, it is its depth at receiver and in the trenches. JuJu Smith-Schuster left in free agency, and neither second-rounder Skyy Moore nor Kadarius Toney played more than half the snaps in a game for the Chiefs last season. Kansas City also lost both starting offensive tackles, Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie. Jawaan Taylor signed a big deal to replace Brown on the left side while Lucas Niang stepped into the right tackle spot, but adding depth there would be wise. Ditto for the defense. Defensive ends George Karlaftis and Charles Omenihu are the projected starters after the Chiefs let Frank Clark go, but you can’t have too many pass rushers trying to go through the AFC playoffs.
Around the NFL
Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is declining visits with any teams selecting outside the top 10 in this month’s NFL draft, agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“I’m confident Jalen will go in the top 10,” Rosenhaus told Schefter. “He’s a good person, a family man, loves football and is a generational talent.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Standing 6 feet 3 and weighing 337 pounds, Smith can be described as a load. In the NFL, players of this size (think of Brandon Williams) are often used as gap-fillers and space-eaters, taking on double teams and staying stout at the line of scrimmage.
But while Smith certainly has plenty of size, he also has an athletic skill set that very few men of his size possess.
Plugged the reported numbers here for Mazi Smith into @MathBomb's RAS machine (compared to Combine participants since 1987) and, uh, the hype train for Smith has left the station.— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) August 10, 2022
(I used weightlifting websites to convert 22*325 on the bench to 44*225, so maybe not perfect) pic.twitter.com/BhCWcYj5jR
While athletic testing is not the end-all-be-all for defensive tackles, broad jumps and vertical jumps are still important. These tests help quantify how effectively a player can generate power through their ankles, knees, hips and core muscles from a static position — which resembles coming out of their stance after a snap.
Smith’s testing numbers were superior to many defensive tackles who have ever played the game — and all of the power and explosion the test suggest show up in his film.
A tweet to make you think
Here is the Monday edition of the REKAP - Rush Hour with @ChicagoBears news! Georgia DT Jalen Carter is at Halas Hall today. Plus, sources confirm the #Bears will be playing the @Chiefs in Germany next fall! Plus, all the sports news of the day! https://t.co/nXsux3AtxD— David Kaplan (@thekapman) April 3, 2023