It’s Draft Day
The lead up to the draft is always more exciting than the actual draft.
This is especially true for Chiefs fans, who pulled off the first major draft splash by acquiring defensive end Frank Clark from Seattle in exchange for their first round pick, number 29 overall on Tuesday. Additionally, the Chiefs swapped third round picks with the Seahawks, moving up eight spots to No. 84 overall. Seattle gets the 92nd overall pick and the lower of the Chiefs 2020 second rounders (the one acquired in the Dee Ford trade or their regular one). Clark gets a 5-year deal, worth $105 million ($63.5M guaranteed…$800,000 in 2019, $25M in 2020).
It will be a boring night for Chiefs fans and their watch party at Arrowhead, unless they trade back into the first round – which they have the picks to do, but it marks the fifth significant added defensive piece for the Chiefs, who ranked No. 31 defensively in 2018. Joining Clark, who has 33 sacks in three seasons (35 starts), is safety Tyrann Mathieu, corner Bashaud Breeland and defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah, a former second round pick, and Alex Okafor. That gives the Chiefs three solid ends, plus Breeland Speaks and potentially K-Pass adding depth to the positon with Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi in the middle. The front four has definitely been upgraded, as has the back four, losing Eric Berry (and Steven Nelson), but adding the Honey Badger and Breeland, plus they get 2018 draft pick Armani Watts, who as the roster sits right now, will battle Jordan Lucas for a starting spot, back from injury. Sure, the Chiefs lost Berry plus pass rushers Ford and Justin Houston, but they were horrible with those three, so will they really miss them?
Clark is a replacement for Ford, but is a better overall player, as he can stop the run. He basically becomes the Chiefs first round draft pick. What happens next for them will be interesting, as with the improved front four and the back end of the defense, they don’t have any significant needs and can go just about anywhere with their picks.
Round 2, Pick 61 overall: CB Trayvon Mullen (Clemson)
The early entry carried a reputation, as he was rarely targeted – allowing no touchdowns and fewer than 300 yards passing in his career. He is a tall and long press-corner who can clog up the release with quick-set jams, but is more reactive than instinctive in coverage, although he does have experience in all forms of coverage. He can be a little inconsistent in anticipating route breaks, which can open small throwing windows, but his loose hips and response burst helps him latch back onto tight coverage and he rarely gets beat deep. If Mullen can improve pattern recognition and reading the quarterback, the ball production should follow – an area he struggled in college. He has Day 2 draft talent as an outside corner and might not make an impact right away, but could compete for a CB2 spot within a couple of years. He is tall and long, and could be the Chiefs CB4 right away.
Round 2, Pick 63 overall: TE Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)
It’s probably time the Chiefs start thinking about Travis Kelce’s potential replacement. Sort of a local product – he signed with Kansas out of high school, but only caught one pass for five yards as a redshirt freshman in 2016. Wishing to make more of an impact, he transferred to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M where he got his chance to contribute (21 catches, 336 yards, 16.0 average, six touchdowns). FBS coaches lined up to recruit him after that performance, and he decided to roll with new A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. That turned out to be the correct choice, as he became a consensus All-American, first-team All-SEC, and the Aggies’ Offensive MVP by setting team highs with 48 receptions, 832 yards, and 10 touchdowns in 13 games (12 starts). Despite his experience in-line and willingness to block in Jimbo Fisher’s offense, he has neither the size nor strength to handle those duties as a pro as he doesn’t sustain his blocks long enough in space. Sternberger is athletic with above-average ball skills, catch radius and route breaks that help him undercover on the second and third level. Much like Kelce, his paychecks will be tied to his pass-catching. He has eventual starter potential as a move tight-end who can function as a big WR3/4 from the slot due to his talented route running, in-air ball adjustment skills and plus hands.
Round 3, Pick 84 overall: S Amani Hooker (Iowa)
It might be a stretch to think Hooker could still be available, but he is a perfect fit for the Chiefs, who could use a starter opposite of the Honey Badger. He would be in competition with Watts and Lewis, and Spagnola will also use three safety sets, when Mathieu slides into the slot in certain packages – a role he could thrive in against pass-catching tight end’s
Sort of like Dorian O’Daniel at Virginia Tech, Hooker, the 5-10, 210-pound early entry, was a hybrid safety/linebacker at Iowa, and the results earned him the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year award (65 tackles, 3.5 for loss, four interceptions, seven pass breakups), starting all 13 games. He has some limitations in man coverage; however, he has the size, instincts and ball skills to become a plus starter, but needs to find his perfect scheme fit. His skill set should translate into capability to play special teams.
Round 5, Pick 167 overall: WR Antoine Wesley (Texas Tech)
Another early entry, Wesley played with MVP Pat for one year in Lubbock as a true freshman, but didn’t record any stats as he had to wait behind talented Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell, and Jonathan Giles. After recording just 10 catches for 137 over his first two years, the 6-4, 206-pounder had a breakout junior season, starting 12 games and earning second-team All-Big 12 honors by grabbing 88 balls for 1,410 yards (16.0 average) and 9 TD. He lacks explosiveness, but makes up for it with rare ball skills. Historically, players with comparable height, weight and lack of speed numbers get drafted later and struggle to make a difference in the league…but, he also will have Patrick Mahomes.
Round 6, Pick 201 overall: RB Dexter “Juice” Williams (Notre Dame)
One a Top 100 recruit in the country, Williams saw the field as a true freshman, but didn’t really shine until his senior year, where he was finally became Notre Dame’s top rusher. He played in only nine games (eight starts) due to a suspension for undisclosed reasons that cost him the first month of the season, but still rushed for more yards (995) than he had the rest of his career combined, with 12 scores. Williams runs with a good combination of feel, force and juice, which allows for a variety of methods in creating yards for himself. He does have some character concerns (one year of probation, in addition to his suspension)…an area the Chiefs don’t seem to be too concerned with. However, he offers exciting upside with the talent to become a productive, NFL starter.
Round 6, Pick 214 overall: G/C Keegan Render (Iowa)
He has excellent football smarts, and position versatile, having played guard before converting to center in 2018. Ideal height and body build for a center, can hold his own against powerful defensive tackles. Experienced in a pro style system, doesn’t need to adapt at the next level. Doesn’t take false steps, as he quickly gets set and maintains his anchors. Technique sound, especially with getting his hands in and under quickly. Could be a nice late-round steal for the Chiefs.
Round 7, Pick 216 overall: DT Trysten Hill (UCF)
Hill did not end his career at UCF on a positive note. He barely played in the team’s Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU, made it clear he was unhappy about his playing time after the game, and did not thank the team’s current coaching staff in the note in which he made his declaration for early entry in the NFL draft. He was also in the doghouse on and off throughout the 2018 season – starting just once.
Another dude with character concerns, but he can play. He was a gap bandit who disrupted running games and spent time harassing quarterbacks with consistent effort and hustle and still had a productive season (36 tackles, 10.5 for loss, three sacks) and under former coach Scott Frost, he started all 13 games as a true freshman (15 tackles, five for loss, one sack) and as a sophomore, when he earned second-team All-AAC honors (20 tackles, four for loss, two sacks).
He needs to get stronger and play with better control, but his get-off and athletic hands/feet should make him a rotational one-gapper if the maturity and coachability check out.
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