Grading the Chiefs draft

With the NFL Draft clearly in the rear view, its time to take a look back at what the Kansas City Chiefs did in effort to improve their roster. Unlike 2013-2016, where John Dorsey hoarded picks and was eager to trade down, he made some impressive trade ups – entering the draft with 10 picks, but selecting just six guys when it was all said and done. Most, if not all, of their picks were surprises to some degree.

Round 1, Pick 10: QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)

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I’m giving the Mahomes pick a B- for two reasons. One, we don’t know what his target start date is. Will it be 2018? 2019? It will heavily depend on how quickly he learns the offense. Two, whether or not Alex Smith continues to decline will also factor heavily into Mahomes’ start date. If he begins struggling, and fan outcry peaks, I don’t doubt the coaching staff will put Mahomes on the field. As far as Mahomes himself, I love what the Chiefs are doing. They have a Super Bowl caliber team, but not quarterback. Mahomes, with many Brett Favre traits, is the kind of QB the Chiefs need to reach the next level. If Mahomes turns out to be a bust – as Andy Reid pretty much admitted that he would not have made this pick if they were getting a guy to start right away – it will hurt, but if they develop him, the franchise will be set for years. Definitely a high ceiling – low floor guy. Instant reaction was “Why not (Deshaun) Watson?” But the quarterback whisperer Reid said that Mahomes had a quicker release, threw a better deep ball, a harder ball and makes quicker reads. A downside here is the Chiefs used a first-round pick on a guy that likely won’t play in 2018, while they are in win-now mode. A guy that could have been plugged into the starting lineup and play right away, may have been the right pick. If Mahomes works out, or doesn’t, kudos to the Chiefs for doing something they hadn’t done since 1983 – draft a QB in the first round (Todd Blackledge). Since, no other DRAFTED QB has started and won a game in Kansas City. That changes soon.

Grade: B-

Round 2, Pick 59: DE Tanoh Kpassagon (Villanova)

Sep 3, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA;  Villanova Wildcats defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon (92) on the field against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

 Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire (USA TODAY Sports)

Over the last couple years, it’s become apparent in Kansas City that Dorsey is looking for interior pass rushers. Between the health of his outside rushers, and the changes the NFL landscape has seen, it only makes sense. Last year they acquired Chris Jones, who was a game-wrecker for much of the latter half of the season. At 6’6 and 311 pounds, he recorded 17 tackles, 2 sacks, and 4 pass deflections. Now, insert the 6’7, 289-pound Kpassagon, and the Chiefs front looks lethal. Remember, Allen Bailey is coming back and they added DT Bennie Logan during free agency. Clearly, Dorsey is looking to shore up what has been a weakness for the last two seasons while making his defense even more diverse. Kpassagon has 43 tackles this season – 21 of them came behind the line of scrimmage. He is the first Villanova defensive player drafted since Howie Long (1981), and he certainly looks the part. Dude is beastly.

Grade: B

Round 3, Pick 86: RB Kareem Hunt (Toledo)

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The Chiefs traded up again, giving up their fourth round pick to get back into the third round (a pick they gave up inmoving up for Mahomes). Hunt could overtake Spencer Ware in the KC offense, and at minimum will be a third down, reducing the role of Charcandrick West even more. While Ware performed well last season (921 yards, 3 TD), Reid has never been a committee-back coach, so coaxing 3,105 yards and 19 TD’s out of the West/Ware duo the last two seasons has been nothing short of outstanding. Still, the Chiefs need a do-it-all, three-down back, and Hunt fits the mold, while Ware really doesn’t. Averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring 45 total touchdowns in college, Hunt has what it takes to be what Jamaal Charles used to be for the Chiefs. Hunt touched the ball 885 times at Toldeo and fumbled just twice. With Mahomes and Hunt, the Chiefs backfield could be extraordinary very, very soon.

Grade: B+

Round 4, Pick 139: WR Jehu Chesson (Michigan)

Nov 7, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Jehu Chesson (86) celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski (USA TODAY Sports)

I figured the Chiefs would draft a receiver, given the lack of movement surrounding Albert Wilson and lack of offensive snaps for Demarcus Robinson. Chesson’s best year came in 2015, when he caught 50 balls for 764 yards and caught 9 scores while rushing 8 times for 155 more yards and two scores. He won’t start immediately, and with Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Chris Conley already having roster spots locked down, he won’t see many targets, but he is someone to keep an eye on. He can run block, and with his size will be a significant asset against small corners in the slot. Scouts think he’ll be a much better receiver in NFL than college, because an inconsistent passing game at Michigan. The Chiefs certainly feel that way, as they traded two of their fifth round picks into the fourth round (a pick they gave up to get Hunt) to get him.

Grade: C+

Round 5, Pick 183: LB Ukeme Eligwe (Georgia Southern)

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I’d never even heard of Eligwe before the draft, and after reading about him, I’ve to the conclusion that he’s an interesting prospect with the potential to shine in the Chiefs defense.  NFL.com had this to say about him:

He was a contributor as a redshirt freshman on the [Florida St] Seminoles’ BCS championship team in 2013 (28 tackles, team-leading 10 on special teams, two sacks), but played in just two games due to a foot injury the following year and was dismissed for violating team rules after the season. He was granted a medical redshirt for that season but decided to leave for the NFL Draft after 2016, his only season playing for the GSU Eagles…

The fifth round was later than most expected to address the ILB position, but if Eligwe, the college 4-3 OLB, can continue to round out his game and learn from one of the NFL’s best (Derrick Johnson), he’ll be regarded as one of the steals of this draft in no time. Dorsey and Reid have great history with fifth round picks, as the last five are still on the roster. This is a very similar pick to last year’s fifth round pick – Tyreek Hill, another former Power 5 player, who went down a level after being dismissed from the team.

Grade: C+

Round 6, Pick 218: S Leon McQuay III (USC)

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With Eric Berry, Ron Parker, and Daniel Sorenson on long-term contracts, it was somewhat surprising to see the Chiefs end their draft with a safety, but isn’t just a safety. At USC, he covered slot receivers at times as well. At 6’2, he has good ball skills (6 PBU’s, 8 pass deflections, 3 interceptions in 2016) and this was likely a “best available” pick for Dorsey. While he’ll need to work on his movement skills, he’s the multi-faceted player Dorsey loves to draft.

Grade: C+

Overall: B-

The Chiefs were looking ahead with much of this draft class, and for a team that’s already good right now, it’s a huge sign the Chiefs want to be good for the long haul. It’s not surprising that the Chiefs reduced their number of picks, as they already have great depth. Picking Mahomes could be the catalyst that turns the franchise around, while Hunt and Kpassagon shouldn’t take long to earn starting gigs and Eligwe could be the inside backer they’ve needed for some time. McQuay and Chesson add depth.

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