Needs: The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t do a whole lot in free agency besides signing Eric Berry long-term and replacing Dontari Poe with Bennie Logan, and that’s fine. They already have a roster littered with talent and don’t have many gaping holes left to fill. That’s not to say they can’t improve, of course.
Look for the Chiefs to target an inside linebacker, edge rusher, cornerback, and quarterback in the draft, and possibly a safety.
Picks: First round (27), second round (59), third round (91, 104), fourth round (132), fifth round (170, 180), sixth round (216, 218), seventh round (245).
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Chiefs learned last season just how valuable Derrick Johnson is on defense after he went down with an Achilles injury. Although he’s lost a step and isn’t as explosive as he once was, he’s still a solid starter. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, he won’t be around forever. It’s time for them to draft his replacement, and Cunningham is a perfect option.
The 6-foot-4 linebacker can really move for his size and plays a similar style to that of Johnson. In a 3-4 defense, he’d play inside linebacker, rotating with Johnson and Ramik Wilson. Behind Kansas City’s front, he’d be able to range sideline-to-sideline making plays.
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DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Chiefs aren’t desperate for a quarterback the way Cleveland is, but it’s clearly a need with Alex Smith failing to take them deep into the playoffs. Kizer needs time to develop into an NFL-quality passer, and having Smith gives the Chiefs exactly that: time. They can roll with Smith for one more season before moving on from him in 2018 and handing Kizer the keys.
Of course, the Chiefs would most likely have to take Kizer in the first round, but for a team with few needs, they can afford to spend a high pick on a developmental quarterback. In a year or two, Kizer can be the guy to take the Chiefs on a deep playoff run with his big arm and potential.
Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
The Chiefs have Marcus Peters as their No. 1 cornerback, but depth beyond him is a bit thin. White doesn’t project as a true shutdown corner like Peters, but he can thrive as a No. 2. He’s good in man coverage, which the Chiefs play plenty of, making him a good fit in Kansas City.
White might not slide to the 27th pick, possibly forcing the Chiefs to trade up in order to land him. In case he does slip to 27, though, the Chiefs should be ready to take the LSU product. Pairing White with Peters and Eric Berry in the secondary would be a big help for the Chiefs.
Budda Baker, S, Washington
Eric Berry is in Kansas City long-term after signing an extension this offseason, shoring up the safety position for years to come. However, Baker is a different type of player. He’s at his best when playing close to the line of scrimmage and covering the slot. With Berry playing more of a free safety role, Baker can come down into the box and play the run, as well as short-to-intermediate passes.
As a second-round pick, if he makes it there, Baker would be a tremendous value. He’s a top-30 player in this draft who gets bumped down a bit because of his small stature (5-10, 195 pounds).
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Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Jamaal Charles is gone, leaving Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West as the lead backs. It’s not a huge need for the Chiefs, but adding a guy with the potential to be a 1,000-yard back should be a consideration. Kamara is a fringe first-round talent who will slide because of how deep this class is.
He’s an explosive athlete with a good combination of size and short-area quickness, while also having the hands to play all three downs in the NFL. He’d be a nice addition should he make it to 59 in the second round.
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Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
The Chiefs need help on the edge with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston getting up in age. Dee Ford will be a contributor on one side, but adding a player with a high ceiling like Bowser would be smart. Although he’s raw and not a refined pass rusher, Bowser is one of the best athletes in the class.
Right away, Bowser can play valuable snaps in sub-packages. On obvious passing downs, Bowser can come in and rush off the edge, providing a boost to the defense. And he has plenty of experience dropping back into coverage, seeing as Houston had him doing that more often than it should have.