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2024 NFL Draft primer: Positions of need, and 3 prospects to know

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 BYU at Liberty Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2023 campaign gets going with training camp next week, I want to make sure Chiefs fans are also ready for college football season.

Last offseason, I previewed the 2023 NFL Draft by doing an entire first-round mock draft. In it, I predicted the Chiefs to select defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah from Kansas State because I was a fan of the prospect, and it was a clear fit. By this April, general manager Brett Veach had apparently come to a similar conclusion.

This year, I wanted to dive deeper into what the Chiefs could be looking for and entertain a few possibilities. Before we get into names, let’s determine what positions the Chiefs should be prioritizing.

Positions of need for 2024 offseason

When you look at the contractual status of the positions most important to team success, the Chiefs have a good foundation of security.

  • Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ deal through 2031, of course.
  • The team’s top four wide receivers are all under contract through at least this and next season; Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice are through 2025 and 2026, respectively. Plus, tight end Travis Kelce’s deal is up in 2026.
  • The team signed offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor to a contract through 2026 this offseason.
  • The Chiefs have used consecutive first-round picks at defensive end, then added free-agent Charles Omenihu this spring on a three-year deal.
  • Although L’Jarius Sneed is an unrestricted free agent in 2024, Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson are signed through 2025.

The glaring omission from this list is left tackle. Taylor projects to play right tackle this season and should stay there if that comes to fruition. Veteran Donovan Smith is here on a one-year deal, and he will make way for 2023 third-round pick Wanya Morris as an option. Either way, the team should look hard at that spot.

The Chiefs also need to be thinking about defensive tackle, whether or not they agree on an extension for Chris Jones ahead of the upcoming season. Rookie Keondre Coburn is the only one under contract long-term, and he will have a pretty specific role. In today’s NFL, the team needs more pass-rush juice than just Jones on the interior.

At the end of the day, the Chiefs should always look hard at the skill positions on offense: wide receiver, running back and tight end. It’s important to replenish the playmakers around Mahomes, and there’s no guarantee in the projected progression of the team’s young pass-catchers.

Without further adieu, let’s look at some intriguing names projected to be toward the top of next year’s class:

BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia

If you want a strong recommendation for BYU offensive tackle Kinsley Suamataia in next year’s draft, just ask his cousin: Detroit Lions’ right tackle Penei Sewell.

The two grew up together in Utah, so when Sewell became a star at the University of Oregon, Suamataia followed him there. However, he returned to his home state to play at BYU after one year and immediately excelled at right tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2022. At a listed 6’6” and 315 lbs., he did not allow a sack over 337 pass-block snaps.

He’ll have a new challenge at left tackle in 2023, but he didn’t seem phased by the challenge when exclusively interviewed by PFF.

“There’s not much of a difference for me at left tackle because I was a left tackle growing up,” he said. “Right tackle was different for me. I can play anywhere, honestly. Throw me at guard. Throw me at center.”

Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy

Texas Spring Football Game Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Among the secured receivers the Chiefs have on the roster, wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the one that can reasonably be released next offseason. On paper, his role in the unit could be fulfilled by Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid has already mocked Worthy to the Chiefs for that reason. Worthy is listed at a nearly-worrisome 164 lbs., but is 6’1” and can fly down the field. He led all FBS players in targets on passes traveling 20 or more yards downfield in 2022 but only turned the 44 targets into nine catches and four touchdowns.

If he becomes a more efficient playmaker this season, he has the game-breaking speed to make him a prioritized target for the Chiefs.

Miami (FL) defensive tackle Leonard Taylor

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

At this time, the Chiefs do not have an extension done with Chris Jones. Whether this prospect is pairing up with him or replacing him, Miami defensive tackle Leonard Taylor is intriguing.

At a listed 6’3” and 305 lbs., Taylor explodes off the snap and terrorizes guards and centers on pass downs. He earned only three sacks in 2022 but was just second to Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey last year in pressure rate among interior defensive linemen.

Taylor would be the predecessor to Jones in his role as the penetrator from the B-gap.

Way-too-early 2024 NFL Mock Draft

All three prospects I just described are projected toward the later part of the first round. We know that can change, but I believe the team would be ecstatic if one of these particular players were available with pick 32 in next year’s draft.

With my way-too-early prediction, I believe the Chiefs would love to complete their long-term offensive tackle position with a prospect like Kingsley Suamataia. His size, length and movement skills make him a fit for the Chiefs’ offense.

He will only be a redshirt sophomore in the fall, which may give way to some growing pains that prevent him from shooting too far up the board. Either way, if he enters the draft, he appears to have the traits and tools the Chiefs desire for the future at left tackle.

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