Kansas City Chiefs March Scouting Report
The NFL Combine has come and gone. The Chiefs’draft brass now own acomprehensibledelineationof what this crop of NFL hopefuls can do physically and their potential as productive pro players going forward.
GM Brett Veach and Coach Andy Reid have already been aggressive in making positive additions and subtractions to the roster. The KC player personnel tandem have efforted in laying down a sound 2019 foundation prior to the draft in order to whittle-down the "needs" picks in the draft and hopefully expand the "best athlete available" options, which most times leads to a healthy player selection process.
So, here’s who has come and gone so far (as of this writing 3/28/2019):
Anthony Sherman (RB) signed
Alex Okafor (DE) signed
Damien Wilson (LB) signed
Tyrann Mathieu (S) signed
Carlos Hyde (RB) signed
Harold Jones-Quartey (DB) signed
Dee Ford (LB) franchise tagged, traded to San Francisco for 2020 2nd round pick
Eric Berry (S) released
Justin Houston (LB) released, signed with Indianapolis.
Dillon Gordon (T) waived
Buffalo Bills signed C Mitch Morse
Cleveland Browns signed TE Demetrius Harris
Sammie Coats (WR) signed
Davon Grayson (WR)signed
Dontae Johnson (DB) signed
E.J. Manuel (QB) signed
Justin Senior (T)signed
-Cleveland Browns signed RB Kareem Hunt
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (G) activated to 53-man roster
Signed RB Aaron Ripkowski to a Reserve/Future contract.
Signed DB Leon McQuay III to a Reserve/Future contract.
Signed DT Henry Mondeaux to a Reserve/Future contract
Signed WR Josh Crockett, LB Raymond Davison, OT Ryan Hunter, NT Joey Ivie, QB Chase Litton, LB Rob McCray, OT Pace Murphy, DB D'Montre Wade and TE David Wells to a Reserve/Future contract.
Signed LB Martrell Spaight to a Reserve/Future contract.
Ron Parker (S) waived
Removed DB Chris Cooper from the practice squad
Time to get this year’s draft outlook going. The popular opinion among most football folks is that the Chiefs will be focusing a great deal on defense throughout the 2019 draft. The prevailing projection is the Chiefs’ offense is set and will pick up where it left off last season, blowing up enemy defenses. While it is clear that KC’s 2018 defensive squad was quite porous, particularly in the secondary, I am not of the opinion that this will be a defense-heavy draft for GM Brett Veach and Coach Andy Reid. Let’s face facts, Coach Reid might have a situation at WR this season with the unfortunate off-field happenings involving WR Tyreek Hill.Fellow wideout Sammy Watkins isn’t the model of durability, and the coaching staff worked miracles with the patchwork backfield after the Kareem Hunt loss. I’m willing to bet about half this draft will address the offense, with some quality attention given to WR and RB.
But, YES, the defensive backfield will get the gift of the Chiefs’ first selection in this draft. In his recent presser, Coach Reid answered, "I am always looking for a smart, aggressive, tough-minded defense. You don’t have to be the fastest guy, but effort becomes a huge thing for me. Toughness becomes a huge thing for me. The ability to make plays. Understand the game and make plays end up being important."
He described pretty much what the Chiefs have in-house already on defense. Newly signed DB Tyrann Mathieu is a tough, versatile playmaker type. DE Chris Jonesgives an honest effort every snap and gets the job done with star-quality results, but in an understated way. ILBs Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland just bring it each game. But make no mistake there are still gaping holes in critical positions that need filling, namely edge rushers and the secondary.
Recalling last season’s draftthe Chiefs’ committed to aggressively cleaning up the defensive mess of 2017, with 5 of the 6 draft choices cashed in on the defensive side of the football. In order, they were (round-overall pick):
2-46: Breeland Speaks, DE (Ole Miss)
3-75: Derrick Nnadi, DT (Florida State)
3-100: Dorian O’Daniel, LB (Clemson)
4-124: Armani Watts, S (Texas A&M)
6-196: Tremon Smith, CB (Central Arkansas)
6-198: Kahlil McKenzie, OG (Tennessee)
The Chiefs’ draft slot schedule for this year looks like this (round-slot-overall):
4- NO PICK
6-42-214 (compensatory pick)
After losing quality DBs like Marcus Peters, Sean Smith, Eric Berry over the last 2 off-seasons, the #1 draft priority for 2019 should be CB. Greedy Williams (LSU), Byron Murphy (WSH), DeAndre Baker (GA), Amani Oruwariye (Penn St.) and Trayvon Mullen (Clem)are viewed as the cream of the CB crop in the 2019 college pickins.I doubt that Greedy Williams makes it to 29 in the first round and I don’t see a reason Mr. Veach should try and trade up to secure a Greedy selection. At 29 in round 1, Mullen would be a good get but he’s a zone type and the Chiefs may be more in need of a corner that can go man.Should Baker fall, he’d be a gimme pick in the bottom of the 1st round. Out of the top-5 CBs I’d like to see the Chiefs call out Byron Murphy’s name. Murphy didn’t exactly WOW at the Combine but watch his game cut-ups; he may be the best all-around CB in this draft. I fear the Texans, who were a bit shocked by Mathieu’s surprise exit and lost 2 other starting DBs this off-season, will be in the market here for a CB and Murphy’s the guy. Cincy and Cleveland are looking at CBs ahead of KC. When all is said and done and the Chiefs are on the clock, Kansas City selects:
DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia.
Baker goes 5’11-193 and runs an effective 4.52. OK, so he’s not a burner and his 10-split is a bit mushy at 1.60. But remember Coach Reid’s quote, "You don’t have to be the fastest guy, but effort becomes a huge thing for me. Toughness becomes a huge thing for me. The ability to make plays. Understand the game and make plays end up being important." Baker is a savvy man-cover corner with terrific ball-skills. He’s smart, well-coached at the college level and steps in as a day-one starter. Playing opposite talented vet CB Kendall Fuller, Baker will be targeted by enemy QBs early and often. That plays into the hands of Baker’s strengths as he is aggressive to the football and skillful taking it away. DeAndre Baker "fits" exactly what new DC Steve Spagnuolo’s4-3 based defense needs.
Safety is a need as well, but there may be enough returning foundation for 2019 to let Mr. Veach and Coach Reid hold off on that position.Tyrann Mathieu will own the free safety spot (FS). 2018 rookie (4th round) Armani Watts lasted just 5 games last season before shutting it down on an injury. He returns and, if healthy, gives the Chiefs a potential exciting starter at free safety. Underrated and crafty safety Daniel Sorensen also returns at Strong Safety (SS) andbrings much-valued versatility, leadership and depth.
Mr. Veach works with 2 picks in the 2nd round, and while a trade could happen here involving 1 or both picks (up into the first?), I believe this draft is deep enough to warrant staying put in the 2nd. Another reason I think the Chiefs stay with the 29th and 32nd slots in round 2 is there are 2 perfectly tailored players that would fill huge voids for KC. I’ll not deliberate on the "maybe" and "what could" scenarios; here’s the call.
With the 29th pick of the 2nd round, the Kansas City Chiefs select,
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State.
Yep! They go offense. Sanders just absolutely sold himself at the Combine with super sharp workouts all around. He was most impressive routing and catching the football. Once Saquon Barkley’s caddy at State, Sanders "arrived" and shined in 2018. Starting just 1 full season at Penn State, Sanders has incredibly fresh legs and low grind on his body. You could see many NFL coaches and scouts attending the Combine do double-takes and widen the eyes once as Sanders did his thing. RBs come at a discount these days in this league, but this is one of those special opportunities when a player’s tool box and freshness are exactly what the Chiefs offense needs to at the very least maintain the 2018 explosion of plays and points.
With the 32nd selection of the 2nd round, Kansas City selects,
Connor McGovern, G, Penn State.
Whoa! Offense again? Yessiree! I know, that defense was just awful last season, but there are plenty of good players that will get the job done later in this draft… if they fall. Gotta take that chance here. McGovern is a real need and here’s why. KC’s franchise player is, without a doubt, QB Patrick Mahomes. Protecting the gem of the offense is job #1. While the Chiefs’ offensive line played well last season, there’s are real worries inside at G and C, and potential contractual concerns at both ends of the line in the near future. The immediate hole to fill is the most important one, Center. Mitch Morse is gone via free agency. Currently the Chiefs have Austin Reiter, Jimmy Murray, Ryan Hunter and Tejan Koroma rostered at the pivot. Which of those do you feel confident about for 2019? McGovern is an outstanding run-blocker with excellent footwork. He started nine of 13 games played at RG as a true freshman, and then moved to center for his sophomore season, starting all 13 gamessnapping the ball.He was back at RG to close out his college career.McGovern’s pass pro needs work, but Coach Reid can handle that work and get the rookie up to speed. McGovern could be ready to step in at Center as a day-one starter, or at either OG slot if needed.
OK, onto round 3. Yes, defense and YES, the secondary. With the 28th pick of the 3rd round, the Chiefs select,
Juan Thornhill, SS, Virginia.
Let’s talk about WOWing at the Combine. 6’-205… 4.42x40, with a sharp 1.57x10-split… 21 reps on the bench… here we go… 11’9 broad jump… 44" vertical. THAT’S INSANE EXPLOSION at the safety spot! Thornhill is a rare good-cover safety who has played both inside and CB and played effectively. He has good hands, will come up in a hurry and make the tackle supporting the run and can run with any RB or TE in routes. BUT… keys are he plays inside and outside and has ball-chops. Add in his explosion gifts and I just hope and pray he is there at 28 in the 3rd.
In the 4th… WE DON’T HAVE A 4TH ROUNDER THIS YEAR!
Round 5, GM Veach turns the draft tables around again and helps out Coach Reid on offense. Remember, we have a potential Tyreek Hill issue, Sammy Watkins’ sketchy health history, no more Chris Conley (free agent goner), Demarcus Robinson and a host of "nice" role receivers. Cut-n-dry, IF… IF Andy Isabella drops to this spot, just BOOK IT, he’s a Chief. In-fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Mr. Veach doesn’t package his two 2nd-rounders to move down into the 3rd and add a couplepicks deeper in this draft, using that 3rd rounder on Isabella. But, keeping things as they currently stand, KC will turn in the card and hear:
With the 29th pick of the 5th round, the Kansas City Chiefs select,
Gary Jenning Jr, WR, West Virginia.
Jennings is an inside-outside wideout with sneaky good deep ball skills, but sharp mid-range chops. Goes 6’1-214 (nice size), runs a legit 4.42 with a slick 1.55 take off (10-split). He gives Coach Reid an attractive 3rd WR option for Mahomes if all is well with Hill and Watkins. Should Watkins miss time, Jennings offers the size and some play-making skills to fill that role. If Hill is tagged with a league suspension, Jennings has shown he can track the ball down field with confidence and ability. Jennings put up good game tape and has a true NFL game. Again, IF Andy Isabella is here, he’s the guy. But I think Gary Jennings is made for what the Chiefs are missing at wideout, a dangerous but versatile WR3 at worst.
Round 6… 2 picks (29 and 40). Back to the defense as the guy at the podium says;
With the 29th pick of the 6th round, the Chiefs select,
Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State.
Miller measures 6’4-254, runs a 4.69-forty and gets out of the blocks at 1.69 (10-split). The Chiefsneed ends that can get to the QB. Currently the top 3 on the roster are Alex Okafor, Breeland Speaks, TanohKpassagnon. Okafor is set but both Speaks and Kpassagnon are moving to the line of scrimmage after playing OLB last season. In today’s game of high energy pass rushing and rotating players for fresh legs per play, adding a player with Miller’s skill set works. At State Miller gathered 41 solo tackles, 15 for loss, and took down the QB 7.5 times. HE’s a work in progress that clearly needs "coaching up", but that is something this staff is quite capable of doing.
The 2nd pick of the 6th round for KC is headed back to the offense.
With the 40th pick, a compensation pick, of the 6th round, Kansas City selects,
Paul Adams, OT, Missouri.
As I mentioned earlier, the Chiefs offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz have contract expiring in the next couple of seasons. Behind Fisher and Schwartz are Pace Murphy and Dillon Gordon… yeah, I here ya. GM Veach lucks out and calls out Adams as a rookie swing tackle that may end up playing at G. Adams is a 2-year captain out of Missouri, starting at OT. He has the tools but also displays performance flaws that need pro coaching attention. Those flaws are what allows Adams to fall late in the 6th. Coach Reid has done wonders with latent O-line talent over the years and should be able to elevate Adams to starting NFL quality levels.
Finally, the 7th round rolls around. What is a KC draft without a "project" QB included? This may be the rare draft where Coach Reid passes on a passer. However, it would be fun to see what Easton Stick could do under the tutoring of QB whisperer Reid. Nice thought but not happening as Big Red already has a couple of "projects" in the fold at QB; EJ Manuel and Chase Litton. TE may be on tap in the 7th round for the Chiefs. As of this writing KC has Travis Kelce, Deon Yelder and David Wellsmanning the TE slots on the roster. Impressive but buried Practice SquaderAlex Elliscould supplant Yelder and Wells with a solid camp. I’d love to see riser Kahale Warring slip to this spot, but not likely. However, another impactful in-game prospect who shows up in his college cut-ups is West Virginia’s Trevon Wesco. Wesco is a bundle of energy every snap, running routes or blocking for the run. You can’t help but notice his big #88 jersey flashing across the vid-screen for one reason or another. Wesco is also a hyper-drive YA getter. He’s not swift, but he catches the rock and adds yards rapidly with active, smart footwork and surprising vision as a runner. That said,
With their final pick in the 7th round, the Kansas City Chiefs select,
Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia.
There you have it, my annual KC Chiefs mock draft. I tend to nail down 1-2 correct picks a year. This year is a bit trickier as the Chiefs have glaring deficiencies yet finished 2018 as one of the top teams in the NFL. Tyreek Hill’s potential legal woes tossed a fly into the draft ointment.
I’ll be back next month prior to the draft to update this mock draft… maybe I won’t need to do an update. We shall see.
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