The draft starts Thursday, so it’s time for our final mock draft of the year. This time, however, we’re only mocking the Kansas City Chiefs, instead of the entire first round. Before we get into the mock, though, let’s go over what we believe are their biggest needs.
1. DE/DT: Yes, the Chiefs front is tight, with Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, and Dontari Poe all returning for the 2016 season. However, Mike DeVito’s retirement leaves the team thin at LDE, where Rakeem Nunez-Rochez and Nick Williams are the best options on the roster (based upon the current depth chart). Now, this hole could be filled with Jaye Howard becoming a full-time defensive end, but how does that then affect the creativity of Bob Sutton’s scheme? He needs aggressive sub-package rushers, and we’re not sure Rochez or Williams could be the next Howard (who has played the role admirably the last two seasons). Secondly, Poe is in the final year of his rookie deal, and John Dorsey isn’t afraid to draft ahead of his needs (Eric Fisher for Branden Albert in ‘13, Dee Ford for Tamba Hali in ‘14). If the Chiefs do take a DT at 28, it could just be for depth, or it could signal the end of the Poe era in Kansas City.
2. Guard: If you don’t think this position is a need for the Chiefs, please refer to Weeks 1-6 of last season and note how many hits Alex Smith took. Furthermore, look at how many negative runs the Chiefs had because someone lost leverage, got beat on a spin move, or was just completely overpowered. Zach Fulton and the Doctor, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, may be good guys, but they’re bad guards. The former Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs was also cut after just one miserable season and Paul Fanaika suffered the same fate, leaving them with Fulton and LDT as the next men up for the LG position. (Jah Reid will mostly likely return to his RG position).
3. Wide Receiver: This isn’t as big of a need as some think, mainly because of the way the Chiefs run their offense and who’s already on the roster. Jeremy Maclin is the unquestioned WR1, but behind him there’s no proven guys. We like Chris Conley a lot, though, and view him as the top dog for the WR2 spot. He’s got the size, and the speed, to make plays, but last season he took some time learning the offense. Another full offseason will go a long way in supplanting Albert Wilson, who has been disappointing in his two years with the team, and probable more suited for the slot. Since the Chiefs also have a dynamic receiving tight end in Travis Kelce, the need for a second receiver option isn’t as high as it would be on a team without a seam threat like Kelce.
4. Cornerback: The Chiefs have an All-Pro in the making with Marcus Peters, and if you remember 2014, Philip Gaines was arguably their best cornerback. Now, he’s coming off ACL surgery. If he can return to rookie form, the Chiefs could have a solid 1-2 punch at cornerback. Gaines has good height, and he has a speed advantage over the departed Sean Smith. Throw in second year corner Steven Nelson, who settled down after missing some action early in the season, and the Chiefs cornerback “problem” doesn’t even look like a problem.
5. Backup QB/OLB/ILB: Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray have the look of career backup, and while Smith has only missed two games in his Chiefs career, better safe than sorry…Hali isn’t getting younger, and Ford is a borderline bust, another pass rusher wouldn’t hurt…inside linebacker may not be an issue depending on the development of Ramik Wilson, but the Chiefs certainly need to keep their eyes open.
Now, onto the mock…
Round 1, Pick 28
Devereaux says: DT Robert Nkemdiche (Mississippi)
Nkemdiche is a nasty defender on the interior. He penetrates gaps, and at times he is completely unblockable. He also has the versatility to play end or tackle. Off field problems are a concern, as is on-field consistency, but the Chiefs have a great coaching staff, and if they can help Nkemdiche tap into his talent all the time, he would truly be worth the risk.
Brandon says: CB William Jackson III (Houston)
Although it may not be a position of need, Jackson will be a huge compliment opposite of Peters with his size and speed to challenge his opponents. This move would allow Gaiens and Nelson to lock down the slot.
Round 2, Pick 59
Devereaux says: G Joshua Garnett (Stanford)
With the release of Grubbs, combined with the inconsistencies from Duvernay-Tardif and Fulton, leaves me to believe the Chiefs have no choice but to take a guard early. The Chiefs really helped their offensive line with the addition of Schwartz, but the guard spots could be in question. Garnett is a dominant run blocker, and a smart inside player who can pick up stunts and twists, something the Chiefs were allergic to last season.
Brandon says: DE Shilique Calhoun (Michigan St.)
Calhoun would be an immediate starter opposite Allen Bailey, making the Chiefs already dominant pass rush even more fierce for opposing offense.
Round Four, Pick 126
Devereaux says: CB Eric Murray (Minnesota)
With the spectacular play of Peters last season, the Chiefs appear to be set on the outside, but opposite him, questions abound. Will Gaines, who had a solid rookie season in 2014, recover from his ACL injury he suffered last season? Will last year’s rookie, Steven Nelson, take the next step in becoming a starting corner? If you answered “maybe” or “no” to any of those questions, then enter Eric Murray. He’s less discussed than fellow corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun, but he’s the better player. Murray plays the ball well, and he’s an outstanding open field tackler.
Brandon says: DT Javon Hargrave (South Carolina St.)
Hargrave is another DT that many experts think could be gone by Round 2, but with a draft class that is so deep on the defensive front, he could slide and would be a huge steal in the fourth round.
Devereaux says: (Chiefs trade RB Knile Davis to Dolphins for pick 147) Round Five, Pick 147: WR Malcolm Mitchell (Georgia)
Davis is the fourth best runner on the Chiefs, and would automatically become the Dolphins most accomplished runner. Making a trade here would also get the Chiefs a pick back after losing a third round pick due to tampering with Maclin in his free agency. Dorsey loves Bulldogs (drafted one in ’13 and ’14, and two last season) and in addition to the Chiefs need for a true WR2, it makes almost too much sense for them to take Mitchell. He’s got big play speed, and better ball tracking skills than Albert Wilson, who happens to be in a contract season.
Round Five, Pick 162
Devereaux says: QB Vernon Adams Jr. (Oregon)
Sorry, Georgia fans, but Murray has the looks of a career backup. Maybe that’s why Kacie McDonnell dumped him and upgraded to Eric Hosmer? Bray can’t beat Murray out, and neither one have performed well enough in preseason contests to make me believe either one can even be an average backup. Adams, on the other hand, may be on the short side when it comes to this year’s QB draft class, but I’d argue he’s the best. He has terrific accuracy, and some of his Houdini scrambles remind me of Alex Smith. He has what it takes to succeed at the NFL level. Remember, Russell Wilson was passed on because of his height too.
Brandon says: Mitchell
He has already progressed since his now two-years ago injury. If he continues to progress, he could be a huge steal and add great depth and potential starting ability to a rising offense.
Round Five, Pick 165
Devereaux says: OT Avery Young (Auburn)
He’s not as polished as a pass blocker, but in the run game he’s almost impossible to move. He has the flexibility to play guard as well, where the Chiefs struggled for most of 2015 (although in this mock, they get a big upgrade with Garnett). As far as tackle is concerned, the Chiefs have little depth and Young could push Reid Fragel and Laurence Gibson. His versatility would be huge in attempting to make the roster, as Reid loves that from his linemen.
Brandon says: CB Rashard Robinson (LSU)
Robinson would add depth and could make a run at making the roster as the 5th corner.
Round Six, Pick 203
Devereaux says: WR Mike Thomas (Southern Miss)
Jason Avant has yet to be resigned, meaning the Chiefs still need a WR5. Thomas has exceptional speed and ability to shake defenders on routes. He’s a little known prospect, but he could be a valuable piece on a rising offense and had a great college career.
Brandon says: G Aaron Morris (Ole Miss)
Morris will add a little competition at the guard position.
Round Seven, Pick 249
Devereaux says: SS Jordan Lucas (Penn State)
The Chiefs have seven safeties on the roster, but only two (Eric Berry and Ron Parker) are proven starters. Stevie Brown had 8 interceptions in 2012, but that was four years ago. Jimmy Wilson doesn’t even have 8 picks in his entire career. Jamell Fleming is a cornerback turned safety and Daniel Sorenson is a hard hitter, but lacking in pass coverage and more of a special teamer. Lucas possesses the mentality of a box safety, but he possesses the quick twitch to play cornerback (34 combined starts at both positions in college). He serves the dual role many of Bob Sutton’s safeties have played in the past.
Brandon says: WR Paul McRoberts (SE Missouri St.)
McRoberts is raw, but with height (6′ 3″) and athleticism, he could be coached up into a good receiver. He would be a bit of a project, but, could maybe be hid on the roster in preseason and land on the Practice Squad.
The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m. CST from Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.
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