Kansas City Chiefs April Scouting Report
Welcome to our world, NFL. Pro personnel folks are forced to do much of the talent evaluation and craft 2020 draft plans though virtual means. The NFL powers shut down all league and team facilities due to the current world health event for all the obvious reasons. One of the not-so-obvious reason that Commissioner Goodellordered all TEAM offices closed to even a minimum of people on-site is to create a level playing/drafting field for all franchises taking part in the college talent grab next week. So, the 2020 NFL draft will be conducted as an online draft. Life imitating art? Fantasy football on steroids?
Like I said, welcome to OUR world.
Anupdate and review of the Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) moves byGM Brett Veach.
Players Mr. Veach has re-upped are:
(position, player, age)
WR, Sammy Watkins, 26
WR, Demarcus Robinson, 25
CB, BashaudBreeland, 28
FB, Anthony Sherman, 31
DE, Mike Pennel, 29
QB, Chad Henne, 35 (extended)
RB, Damien Williams, 28 (option picked up)
OLB, Damien Wilson, 27 (option picked up)
OT, Andrew Wylie, 26
TE, Deon Yelder, 25 (tendered)
DE, Chris Jones, 26 (FRANCHISE TAG)
Moving on are:
TE, Blake Bell, 29 (signed with Dallas)
C, Stefen Wisniewski, 31(signed with Pittsburgh)
DE, Emmanuel Ogbah, 26 (signed with Miami)
ILB, Reggie Ragland, 26 (signed with Detroit)
CB, Kendall Fuller, 25 (signed with Washington)
S, Jordan Lucas, 27 (signed with Chicago)
Free agents added:
RB, Deandre Washington, 27 (signed from Las Vegas)
TE, Ricky Seals-Jones, 25 (signed from Cleveland)
OT, Mike Remmers, 31 (signed from Giants)
CB, Antonio Hamilton, 27 (signed from Giants)
QB, Jordan Ta’amu (UDFA, out of Mississippi)
Pending action or not coming back:
QB, Matt Moore, 36
RB, LeSean McCoy, 32
RB, Spencer Ware, 28
WR, Marcus Kemp, 25
TE, David Wells, 25
OT, Cameron Erving, 28
OLB,Terrell Suggs, 37
ILB, Darron Lee, 25
DT, Xavier Williams, 28
CB, Morris Claiborne, 30
CB, Keith Reaser, 29
Signed futures contracts:
Gehrig Dieter, WR
Mike Weber, RB
Emmanuel Smith, LB
Kyle Shurmur, QB
Elijah McGuire, RB
Devaroe Lawrence, DT
Chris Lammons, CB
Nick Keizer, TE
Braxton Hoyett, DT
Joe Fortson, TE
There are some very eye-opening and draft-plan defining actions taken recently by the Chiefs.Frankly I am stunned KC’s bosses decided to bring back WRs Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson. Quite honestly that just about sets the WR room for the Cheifs headed into the new season and little room for a top-level wideout this draft. RB Damien Williams’ option was picked up and rival Raiders’ versatile and underutilized RB DeAndre Washington was inked to a deal. Williams and Washington join sophDarwin Thompson and undervalued sub Darrel Williams in filling out the backfield depth prior to the draft. TE Travis Kelce lost rugged Blake Bell’s2nd-line support (signed with Dallas) but regained the services of Deon Yelder and will show how it is done the right way to newly acquired, talented but flawed Ricky Seals-Jones.
Mr. Veach and Coach Andy Reidaddressed a few key offensive trouble spots, WR, RB and TE depth, and those moves have cleared the fuzzy preview of what positions the Chiefs will get after in next week’s first "fantasy draft."
As it stands today the Chiefs have just 5 picks in the 2020 draft, which are:
There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Veach will be moving down to accumulate more picks, probably trading out of round 1. The great unknownis when the GM will make his moves and that continues to make this exercise in forecasting the Chiefs 2020 draft quite the challenge.
Still, based on just these current 5 picks in place… here we go!
Looking at the Chiefs rosterto-date, contract situations and players that have left the tribe this off-season, I NOW see the following positions the top needs for the draft, in this order of priority:CENTER, OLB/EDGE, CB, OT, OG.
The draft slots for the Chiefs will surely change multiple times in the 2020 draft, and I am taking those in-the-moment deals into consideration with all of the players I am ‘selecting’ in the following mock draft. The actual rounds here are not as important or pertinent as the actual players themselves and the order in which I have placed them. Basically, one way or another these are the talents I have a feeling will be in the KC draft actions starting Thursday, April 23.I tend to get 1-2 picks pegged every year.
We are working with just 5 picks in-hand. Let’s get to it.
Let me kick this off by making it clear that I will be stunned if Mr. Veachdoesn’t trade out of the first round into the early-to-mid 2nd while adding an extra pick of 2. However, the one player that could persuade me to shift that thinking and see the Chiefs remain right where they are in the 1st round is Michigan’s top-ranked C/G Cesar Ruiz. Chances are Ruiz will be tabbed before the last pick of round 1 and I am proceeding with that as an assumed given. So, IF Cesar Ruiz is off the board, the Chiefs flip the script and the need priority to LB. Some new news involving a couple of players I have on MY Chiefs draft board opens up this draft for some advantageous creativity. And those new circumstances lead to Coach Reid and Mr. Veachconverting the first pick (probably in the 2nd-round after a trade),
ZACK BAUN, OLB, WISCONSIN
6’2-238, 4.65x40, 24 BENCH PRESS, 32.5VERTICAL, 4.31x20 SHUTTLE
Early in this process I was hell-bent on slotting a CB or shoe-horning a Center in this spot. Utah CB Jaylon Johnsonwas a hot take for me but after watching a number of Johnson’s game cutups from the 2019 season I just couldn’t. That and the impressive play of another college CB that carries a slightly lower draft grade and will likely be waiting for the Chiefs in the 2ndor now possibly the 3rdround pushed Johnson and drafting a CB at 1 out. The same type of variables popped up at Center, so LB is pushed to the top of my KC value chart. In comes a bundle of football energy, Zack Baun. Baun is rated as a late 1-early 2nd round buy-in but he turned in a diluted drug test which is raising some yellow flags in some homebound war rooms around the league. Coach Reid has never allowed fuzzy negatives to get in the way of bringing a player aboard so the questionable drug test by Baun plays right into the Chiefs hands. In 14 games at Wisconsin this past season Baun rolled up 75 total tackles, 19.5 resulting in tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and 1 pick for a 34 yard TD return. He gets after it. He arrives at the football in ill-will. Is Baun perfect? No! He will over-run plays and his pass-rush technique is shallow and needs pro coaching. Ah, he IS darn coachable, and his best football is ahead. Baun will be gone before Mr. Veach gets another shot at him late in round 2 and picking at 32 in round 1 or in a deal that lands an early 2ndis essential. Chiefs needs an injection of edge rush at LB now that Justin Houston and Dee Ford are long gone. Baun can deliver urgent pressure even with his limited toolbox of rush moves, but also provide strong run support. He owns 1st-round talents and can pay off big with more quality development.Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson return as starters but after those 2 ‘backers KC relies on Ben Niemann and Dorian O’Daniel, both of whom are still searching for their true LB roles. Baun can play outside and in and is a firecracker that can excite the rest of this defense.
ROUND 2:31 (63)
The Chiefs currently are going into the 2020 campaign with Austin Reiter at Center… that’s it!Again, if Cesar Ruiz fell to the Chiefs when on the clock with the team’s first pick, he’s the guy. Anticipating Ruiz is gone and Mr. Veach selecting Zack Baun (LB) first, the Chiefs select…
TYLER BIADASZ, C, WISCONSIN
6’4-314.NO COMBINE DRILLS.
Biadasz won the 2019 Remington Trophy as the nation's top center, was an Outland Trophy finalist, garnered 1st-team AP All-American and 1st-team All-Big Ten honors. He is a 3-year starter who bounced back from hip surgery in the 2019 off-season to win those lofty awards. The Badger pivot has the size Coach Reid desires at center, the smarts and experience that the Chiefs need. He isn’t a power pusher in the middle, but Biadasz was right in the middle of leading one of the nation’s top rushing attacks in college. Oh, and he is a Wisconsin U offensive lineman! Biadaszdidn’tworkout at the Combine which lowers his draft value in some war rooms around the league; there are medical concerns that could not be ruled out with follow-up exams after the Combine. That’s not something KC will allow to get in the way here. Coach Reid can mold this hard-working and studious prospect into a top-grade pro pivot.He’ll sit behind Austin Reiter for a spell, get up to NFL speed and eventually take over the pivot for a long time, health permitting.Biadasz is a risky burn of a 2nd round pick, but he is arguably first round goods and you just can’t ignore that Wisconsin linemen conduit to the NFL.
ROUND 3:32 (96)
Time to sneak in a gem at CB. Again, I am sure Mr. Veach has made a couple of trades by this point that added picks to this process and the club will be in position to make these personnel grabs work. Keeping that in mind, the Chiefs come away with a winner for the secondary;
BRYCE HALL, CB, VIRGINIA
6’1-202, 4.5x40 (estimated), 11 BENCH PRESS, NO COMBINE WORKOUT (ANKLE INJURY RECOVERY)
If Bryce Hall’s draft year was 2019 he may very well have been a first round must-have. Hall was simply stellar in 2018;not so stellar last season however. The main reason was an October ankle injury that ended his season. Due to that injury he did not workout at the Combine and because of the current health event around to world there is/was no opportunities for clubs to do follow-up exams. Injury-shortened final college year, no Combine workout, no post-Combine meetings or updates, lower draft status… PERFECT!Referring back to my earlier projection of Jaylon Johnson being slotted as a first round gem for the Chiefs, I had trouble getting past the many times I viewed Johnson shying away from the rough stuff on the field, things like taking on blockers, pressing bigger wideouts tough and tackling. Johnson is a terrific cover corner but just lacked a physical aspect that I wanted as well, especially from a round 1 CB. More research through other top CBs that may be available for the Chiefs end of round 1 brought more of the same… until I got to Bryce Hall. Hall gets dirty, taking on WRs after the catch as well as RBs coming his way. He’s not quite as nifty a cover corner as Johnson, but there isn’t great separation between them. Hall will lose a receiver deep once in a while and his footwork is more methodical in getting hips turned and dropping back. But Hall is a rough-n-ready press corner, he closes rapidly on wideouts, he makes tackles, can rush the QB off the edge and goes after the ball. Hall’s hands could be better, but he has 5 INTs in 4 seasons at Virginia. Hall racked up 62 tackles in 2018, 3.5 for loss, 2 sacks and had 2 picks. His 2019 campaign ended in an October contest vs Miami when he broke his ankle and went in for surgery. Yes, there is the medical question mark as Hall did not drill at the Combine and no Pro Day drills to evaluate given the current virus mess. Hall will be 9 months removed from the injury at July’s training camp (hopefully we have one). He brings a tough style, good enough cover skills and attitude. Plus, Hall was a college teammate of Chiefs exciting sophomore safety Juan Thornhill. Bryce Hall is a great get somewhere in the 3rd. A trade that leaves Coach Reid and GM Veach with an earlier 3rd round slot probably needs to happen. However, I LOVE this pick as he fills the void created by Kendall Fuller’s exodus.
Should Bryce Hall already be a member of another NFL club by the time the Chiefs are on the clock in the 3rd round, I would not be shocked to seeTulsa CB Reggie Robinson’s name scroll across the draft ticker as the 3rd round choice of Mr. Veach and Coach Reid. Robinson here will be viewed as a reach by many; put on the "tape" and that opinion is sure to change. Michael Ojemudia, Iowa’s very good CB, is also a name to watch in this round should Bryce Hall not make it to the Chiefs in the 3rd.
ROUND 4:32 (138)
CHARLIE HECK, OT, NORTH CAROLINA
6’8-311, 21 BENCH PRESS, 34 1/8" ARMS.
Heck has football roaring through his veins, literally. Dad Andy Heckwas a 1st-round pick as an offensive lineman, a longtime pro and is a currently a coach. Charlie is 6’8-311, long, nimble enough and loaded with buckets of football nuance. This is a Coach Reid ‘special’. He has the lack of leverage one expects with a 6’8 tackle, but under Big Red’s care Heck can become a heck of a 3rd OT on this roster with potential to man an edge for many years. Footwork is quite good for his length and he uses his long arms to advantage, especially in his redirects of pass-rushers to the outside and past his QB. He needs to clean up his adjustments to counter inside moves and Heck will surely be adding more muscle to his 6’8 frame. The physical elements are clearly there for a savvy line coach to mold and develop. Heck would have the luxury and privilege of not only getting coached up by Big Red and the Chiefs’ instructors, but also benefit from first-hand teaching by Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher and even newly acquired Mike Remmers. 6’8" and son of an NFL line coach who had a long pro career in the trenches, yeah, nice get in the 4th.
A couple of OT options in this spot that I’d keep a KC eye on are LSU’s Saahdiq Charles and Texas Tech edge protector Terrence Steele.
ROUND 5:32 (177)
Jon Runyan, OG, Michigan
6’4-306, 24 BENCH PRESS, 33 ¼" ARMS, 30 ½" VERTICAL.
Chiefs need to address the interior of the O-line. Center is going to be handled either with the 1st pick (Cesar Ruiz) or more likely Tyler Biadasz in the 2nd. Now, is there any way Coach Reid can pass up the opportunity to not only fill a need with a 5th rounder, but do so with the son of one of his best linemen he’s ever coached back in Coach Andy’s Philly days?Prior to Coach Reid’s 2nd season with the Eagles back in 2000, Coach sought after and signed then free-agent OT Jon Runyan. Big Jon was a stalwart RT who played with a nasty, physical edge and his one-on-one battles with the Giants sack master Michael Strahan are a part of Eagles’legend. Well, "little" Jon Runyan enters the 2020 draft after a fine college career at OT. Younger Runyan is ticketed for OG in the NFL as he lacks the quicks and overall balance to thrive on the edge. However, moved inside, Runyan now has plenty of pass-protection chops to fall back on as he crafts his drive blocking. He needs more size to play interior line and that will come. This is a well-schooled, smart and versatile inside swing blocker with pro genes. This Jon Runyan is another Coach Reid special, a tailor-made pet project with historical connection to the coach. Adding Runyan here is a slight reach, but he just ‘fits’ and this may be the last shot at nailing down the Michigan product as round 5 could be the last call for the Chiefs in the 2020 ‘virtual’ draft.
Once "Mr. Irrelevant" is selected and the online draft rooms close, it’s time for the phone waves to burn as team reps start chasing down and signing those coveted undrafted free agents (UDFA). Names to watch that have Kansas City crosshairs on them are:
DeeJay Dallas, Miami
Xavier Jones, SMU
Patrick Taylor, Memphis
Binjimen Victor, Ohio State
Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
Marquez Callaway, Tennessee
Freddie Swain, Florida
KJ Osborn, Miami
Josiah Deguara, CIN
Chris Jackson, Marshall
KiAnte Hardin, Pittsburg State
"It is bound to change in my April Eye in the Sky Report."
Those were my words in my summary from my March Eye in the Sky Report. Well in actuality, my mock draft for the Chiefs did change, several times prior to this writing. Key re-signing at WR (Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson) as well as the return of Damien Williams in the backfield combined with newcomer DeAndre Washington (from the Raiders) and CB BashaudBreeland’s re-upping with the Chiefscaused this exercise to swingfull circle and back to just about where I started last month. While many in this end of the football biz have focused on CB and WR as the must haves for KC I’ve heard too much coach whispering about how much punishment all-world QB Patrick Mahomes absorbed last season. The whispers were conspicuously loud enough that anyone really listening can get the draft hint; the O-line will be an underlying theme this draft and into the off-season processes, whatever they look like. My draft projections are evidence that I am listening.
… 3 of the 5 known picks address the line of scrimmage in my war room.
There is no question Mr. Veach will be dealing to acquire more picks, and I cannot shake the idea that the Chiefs will be trading out of the first to acquire more selections. In a sterile lab draft there is no way some of the draft choices I have pegged for KC would fall to them in the slots I project, however recent developments involving LB Zack Baun, C Tyler Biadasz along with the health haze hanging over CB Bryce Hall dings their loftier draft values and potentially drops them into the ample lap of Coach Reid. Even if those talented players do make it to the Chiefs there is cause for pause as they are risky prospects. I like the odds versus the risk and feel should KC have the opportunities toadd the top 3 choices I made, Mr. Veach and Coach Andy will be shooting draft craps with loaded dice.
Covid-19 burnout is the next epidemic. The 2020 draft is a chance to decompress and enjoy a break from it all.
Next month, I’ll review the Chiefs draft. Be safe!
John Cooney is a senior fantasy writer for FFMastermind.com.
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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