The NFL Combine has come and gone and the Chiefs are in full draft day prep mode. GM John Dorsey has also put nose to the grindstone in contract efforts for the team’s free agents. Some have stayed and some have packed their bags and moved on.
The 2 most notable names in contract situations this off-season are Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry. Mr. Dorsey has addressed both in quite divergent actions. Charles was thanked for his services and released. The move surprised some in the football biz, while others pretty much saw the Charles cut coming. Berry, on the contrary, was awarded a 6-year, $78 million contract extension. Berry is the heart-n-soul of the defense and a locker room deity. Charles was let go due to his age (30) and multiple knee surgeries. Cutting Charles was a tough emotional decision for sure, but a smart football move. When it comes to aging and crumbling running backs you cannot allow sentimentality into the mix.
NT/DT Dontari Poe got his walking papers. Poe’s girth (weight issues?) is not as attractive or useful in today’s speed-centric style of defensive play. With offenses utilizing "move" schemes like read-options, Pistol and spread, big, burly interior D-linemen are often liabilities, unable to do what they do best, clog the middle of the line of scrimmage. The football now heads to the tackles and edges more these days, and in faster fashion. Poe’s type are often left watching the play stranded inside or, worse yet, from the sidelines after being subbed for a quicker tackle/end. The former KC first-rounder is now in Atlanta.
Other signings as of this writing are:
DB Marqueston Huff.
DL Bennie Logan replaces Poe.
Interior swing OL Mike Person was re-upped.
S Daniel Sorensen also re-signed.
OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inked a five-year, $41.25 contract extension.
RB CJ Spiller is now a Chief.
FB Anthony Sherman reduced his salary to free up cap space.
ILB Derrick Johnson restructured his contract to also open cap room.
Along with Poe leaving, veteran back-up QB Nick Foles was cut and signed on with the Eagles.
Surviving the free agency frenzy and the rush to release was RFA WR Albert Wilson and WR/RB/KR De’Anthony Thomas. Wilson was tendered a 1-year $1.8 million offer.
GM Dorsey went on record in an interview saying he is not worries about cap space. If the Chiefs need to make more room under the cap, he can easily get creative in doing so. According to Spotrac.com, a cap tracking website, The Chiefs are currently $4.472 million under the cap ceiling.
On defense GM Dorsey and Coach Reid have things pretty well under control. The subtraction/addition of Poe/Logan actually improves the D-front a tad as Logan is a proven RB tackler in the middle. 2nd year DE Chris Jones might be ready to break through this season. Opposite Jones, Jaye Howard is now a mainstay at LDE. The secondary is rock solid and there is quality depth. If there is an area the KC draft brass might want to address, it is at linebacker, particularly inside. Derrick Johnson continues to play top-shelf football, but at age 34 and with physical breakdowns occurring more frequently, a DJ replacement must be added. The draft is the way to go this year. Ramik Wilson showed well in his extended play last year and he should only improve going forward. OLB Justin Houston is a pass-rushing terror that has become a solid tackler versus the run as well. Tamba Hali is slowing and is now 33. Dee Ford has had some moments, but he has not been the model of durability or consistency. Dadi Nicolas shows potential as a pass-rushing OLB. Josh Mauga, Frank Zombo and Justin March-Lilliard make up a solid reserve corps at LB. But still, LB is a position the club could/should/will address this draft.
With that said, let’s get a quick look at the positions the Chiefs may well address in Philadelphia during the 2017 draft.
This time of year, for the past 2, I fondly harken back to the great draft talks and talent debates I had with Rich Stewart. Mr. Stewart passed on back in 2014, in May. He loved his Chiefs, and penned articles for the KC Star as well as his own blog, Richs Football Report. Rich was not only a Chiefs fan, he was a college football fanatic that studied game film and had an astute eye for talent. Rich was especially keen evaluating offensive and defensive linemen. WE would volley back and forth on the merits and flaws of prospects entering the draft, what positions the Chiefs would prioritize and who would the ultimately select, round-by-round. So, with Rich Stewart in mind and heart, let’s take an early glance at what the 2017 draft might hold for Kansas City.
The Chiefs will make their 2017 draft selections in this order:
Round 1, Pick 27 (27)
Round 2, Pick 27 (59)
Round 3, Pick 27 (91)
Round 3, Pick 40 (104) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 4, Pick 26 (132)
Round 5, Pick 27 (170)
Round 5, Pick 37 (180) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 6, Pick 33 (216) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 6, Pick 35 (218) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 7, Pick 27 (245)
With the roster and depth mostly in good shape, the Chiefs head into this year’s draft with the luxury of selecting BPA (best player available) or specific need. As I pointed out, ILB is a position that needs to look ahead to the days when Derrick Johnson no longer can pad-up, which may not be that far away. But the clear position of need, if there is truly one on this roster, is at running back. Now, I know running backs are devalued in this league and it is not viewed as a wise and prudent investment of a 1st round pick. However, GM Dorsey has positioned the franchise I an advantageous draft situation. So, owning the 27th overall pick, a top feature RB to replace the big-play stylings of Jamaal Charles would be more than just a luxury, it could potentially be the missing piece to a deep playoff run in 2017. Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook will likely be off the board by the time the Chiefs are on the clock. A perfect fit for Coach Reid’s West Coast Offense, relying on an all-services running back, is Christian McCaffrey. The multi-talented McCaffrey may already be a member of the rival Broncos before KC gets the shot. But easily falling (some might call this a reach for various reasons) to the Chiefs at 27 is possibly the best back in this RB-deep draft, Joe Mixon. Yes, I know all about his off-field incident and the initial repercussions of bringing on nasty baggage, but we’ve been through this already with Tyreek Hill; how’d that work out? Anybody want to still erase Hill from the Chiefs’ lineup? Hey! Let those without sin cast the first stone... I’m not that guy. Not here to argue Mixon’s case off the field, but on it he’s golden for KC, and a true first round talent. If Mixon is just too toxic for Coach Reid and the Arrowhead war room members, then I’m still all-in on Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara with the 27th pick of the draft.
Round 2 it’s over to the defensive side and the addition of Derrick Johnson’s understudy. ‘Bama’s Rueben Foster is almost certain to be property of another club here. The one ILB worth an aggressive get is Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan. All you need to know about this tackling athlete is covered if you check in on his game this season versus Clemson, racking up 15 tackles, including a sack of Deshaun Watson. Some LB-needy GM is going to scoop up McMillan before the Chiefs get a shot with the 59th pick. I’d like to see Mr. Dorsey get aggressive here and trade up to be in position steal McMillan. If KC stays put at 59, Florida’s Jarrad Davis would be a fine addition. Davis is a locker room leader and a very productive inside ‘backer that can get after the rusher, pressure the QB on occasion and cover in pass support. Good motor and the kind of field leader Coach Reid cherishes.
The 3rd round brings 2 draft picks for the Chiefs thanks to the compensatory awards compliments of the league office. If the Chiefs traded up to grab McMillan, chances are one of these 3rd-rounders was part of the deal. But assuming nothing changes, KC can get after the D-line and a Coach Reid favorite, CB. 6’4-304 DE Montravius Adams is attractive. IN the 3rd round at CB, eye-up West Virginia’s Rasul Douglas. Adams has a nice blend of size, speed and athleticism. Douglas is long (6’2) and owns excellent ball skills (tied for most INTs in college last year with 8). Round 4 is a good spot for the club to address the O-line. The 5th shows 2 selections for the Chiefs, and Coach Reid could target his next QB project with one of those. KC lost their own 6th rounder thanks to the tampering mess with Jeremy Maclin, but 2 compensatory picks were awarded to KC in this round. WRs and a LB/special teams ace are in play in this round. Round 7; crap shoot, but fun.
In next month’s Eye in the Sky Report I’ll get much more specific with a mock draft for the entire 7 rounds of KC picks. I usually nail 1 or 2 in my Chiefs’ mocks. For a fun KC fans’ draft exercise check out Arrowheadone.com and Ladner Morse and his "Who Would You Take" article. http://arrowheadone.com/chiefs-who-would-you-take/ .
Check in next month. Good stuff on the way!