The Kansas City Chiefs have few holes coming fresh off another playoff loss, but their biggest need in the 2017 NFL Draft is depth.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a lot of picks in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. After losing one pick as punishment for tampering with Jeremy Maclin in 2015, they currently sit with 10 picks. That is a lot of potential for depth or trades.
The needs of the Chiefs cannot be satisfied in free agency entirely, nor should any team’s. The Chiefs have drafted well the last four years and much of that is due to drafting the best player available, even if he doesn’t fit an exact need. That being said here are targets broken down by round for the Chiefs to target in April.
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Round 1: Quarterback, Cornerback
When you look around at the mock drafts the Chiefs have been predicted as taking skill players. Some say wide receiver, some say quarterback, others have picked tight end and even running back. That’s what happens when you make the playoffs four straight years with a solid roster. No one really knows what they will pick. I believe the targets will be corner and quarterback. The Chiefs must look past Alex Smith to their future.
There aren’t any sure fire prospects at quarterback, but there are guys who could sit for one or two years and take over. If teams ahead of the Chiefs pick three quarterbacks or more, then they will take one themselves. If there are more to be had in the second round, then they will wait. That will then open them up to take the best player on the board, regardless of position.
Round 2: Cornerback, Safety, Quarterback
Round 2 depends much on what the Chiefs find in Round 1. They may wait on guys like Patrick Mahomes or Mitch Trubisky, who could fall all the way to the second round. Eric Berry determines what happens in this round as well if he cannot work out a long term deal with Kansas City. The safety market isn’t great this year in the middle rounds, so it could be a target early if Berry walks. Otherwise, John Dorsey will wait on a safety until the later rounds. Corner is the best bet for the second round with a high number of guys graded as such.
The Chiefs will have two picks to work with in the third round. Dorsey may work a trade with either one to move up into the second or first rounds, but let’s assume he keeps these. There are a massive amount of good running backs in this class and Jamaal Charles could be out of the organization. Some of the impact guys might be gone after the third round, indicating by this pick whether the Chiefs are satisfied or want to vastly improve their run game.
Derrick Johnson is getting slow and the Chiefs need a run stopping linebacker. Even if they retain Josh Mauga and Ramik Wilson, then a pick here will sit behind and learn. Running against the Chiefs by the end of the season was like a fish through water. The Chiefs will play strong running teams like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Dallas. They can’t afford to ignore this need.
The chances of Dontari Poe leaving in free agency are really high. The Chiefs have a couple of good pass rushers on the inside, but not another gap eater. A cheap, two-down nose tackle would be ideal in the third round as it gets slim later in the draft.
The Chiefs have a wealth of pass rushers on the outside but they can’t seem to stay healthy. Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Tamba Hali should be unstoppable when on the field together. Instead, Hali’s age and Houston’s injuries limited those opportunities. The Chiefs can’t let go of Hali with his contract, but he can’t play enough to make an impact. So they will have to use him in other ways. Grab a raw pass rusher in the fourth round and let Hali become the most expensive position coach in the league. Get all three on the field at the same time and watch quarterbacks tremble.
Round 5: Guard, Wide Receiver
The guard position is virtually non-existent in this draft, so there is no need to reach in an earlier round. If the Chiefs get worried about someone taking a guy they like earlier, then they have two picks in this round plus two in the sixth to deal. There are a few guys that fit the athleticism needed to play well in the West Coast offense. You have to be able to run out on screens and pull on run plays. It is not the system for a big stone wall.
On the wide receiver side, there is little top end talent. Most of the guys coming in are athletic, but raw. Ball tracking and route running are some of the more common problems I am seeing in scouting reports. The NFL Combine might change some of this, but the Chiefs could use a guy for wide receiver screens. I can see your eyes rolling through your screen. I know, we are all tired of third-and-forever screen plays. Just imagine, though, if the right guy gets back there. Think of someone who is big enough to break tackles, but fast enough to break away. Andy Reid would be in heaven.
Round 6: Safety, Center, Running Back
We’ve already gone over how deep the running back class is this year. The Chiefs have proven in the past that a running back that fits with the offensive scheme and offensive line can lead a team to the playoffs. They don’t need a star in the backfield but a capable runner who can patiently read the holes opening. They have two picks in this round that could be used to provide depth at safety or depth at center. Andy Reid likes to play offensive linemen at any position they can learn so any lineman with experience at center could be drafted. There are some late round guards and tackles with center experience to provide depth at all positions along the offensive front.
On the other side of the ball the Chiefs could use a hard hitter behind their starters as a dime linebacker. The Chiefs’ best enforcer at safety is Eric Berry, but they could use someone that guys really fear. Someone big enough to take on the ever more utilized tight end and punish receivers over the middle.
Some of the Chiefs’ better trench guys have been found in later rounds or cut from other teams late in camp. Much like the safety position, the defensive line is bottom heavy in this year’s draft. That doesn’t mean there is a potential starter there, but it increases the chances that a small school guy can slip past other scouts and start for an NFL team. Wide receiver has also been a popular late round pick for Kansas City, but by this point you wouldn’t reasonably expect more than a practice squad player.