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Kansas City Chiefs May Scouting Report
John Cooney
5/27/2020

The Chiefs went into the 2020 draft with just 5 picks:

ROUND:PICK (OVERALL)

1:32 (32)

2:31 (63)

3:32 (96)

4:32 (138)

5:32 (177)

 

A 6th pick was acquired via a trade with the Titans:

Chiefs receive (2020) 7th round pick for (2021) 6th round pick

 

The draft went down like this:

1.32- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

2.31- Willie Gay Jr, OLB, Mississippi State

3.32- Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

4.32- LJarius Sneed, FS, Louisiana Tech

5.31- Michael Danna, DE, Michigan

7.23- Thakarius Keyes, CB, Tulane

 

There are more than a few head-scratchers here as GM Brett Veach created a rather imaginative and daring (risky?) draft together with head coach Andy Reid.

 

Let’s learn who our newest Kansas City Chiefs are by giving the 2020 rookies the once-over:

 

1.32- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

5’7-207, 4.60x40, 15 bench press, 39.5 vertical, 123" broad jump

Edwards-Helaire is a 5'7-207 runner that rips it like a 6'2-240 ball-carrying beast. He attacks low to the ground and flat-out wins the leverage battle vs tacklers. There is nothing subtle or slow with Edwards-Helaire as he hammers the line at full speed while maintaining full balance and control. Combine drills had the LSU multi-purpose RB hit the 40 at 4.53 (hand-held) but put the ball in his hands and he's a 4.4 road-ripper for sure. The tiny turbo chunks out yards in many ways; crash and dash through the line, press and dart off the edge, jump-cut and tornado through the 2nd level leaving defenders grasping at air or getting low and pushing the pile 6-8-10 more yards. Edwards-Helaire not only runs with gusto on handoffs and pitches, he is a nifty route-runner and receiver too. In 2019 the junior tailback snared 55 passes for 453 yards and 2 TDs on top of his 1414 rushing yards and 16 scores. He rocked stout SEC defenses for 6.6 YPC, highlighted by his 180 YFS and 4 offensive TDs vs perennial powerhouse Alabama. Here we have a case where size doesn't matter, except that of Edwards-Helaire's heart. Can't help but comp this star-in-the-making to Maurice Jones-Drew.

 

2.31- Willie Gay Jr, OLB, Mississippi State

6’1-243, 4.46x40, 21 bench, 39.5 vert, 136 broad

Let’s get the negatives out of the way on this first head-scratcher. Gay was suspended for 8 games in 2019 for his role in NCAA violations pertaining to an academic tutor. He’s a bit noisy in his play, meaning he wastes energy with excessive motion. Gay is rather undisciplined in maintaining his assignment integrity. He doesn’t seem to be able to process plays quickly which leads to late reaction. On the plus side, Gay is athletic and swift. He is twitchy and has some pass-rush chops thanks to his outstanding speed. Gay is not a bad cover LB but that trait may be wiped out if he doesn’t learn to read-n-react more rapidly. He is girthy enough to slide inside at LB if needed. Gay is an impressive athlete that needs some serious pro coaching to polish up the raw goods.

 

3.32- Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

6’6-315, 10.5 hand, 34.25 arm, 83.13 wingspan

No workout at the combine due to medical issues.

A Coach Reid type of lineman; smart, talented but not there yet. Has a hip injury that must be cleared before he is full go. Niang needs to clean up the footwork and play quicker in pass pro. Fast rushers hitting his edge wide can force Niang to widen his base, wrecking his ability to slide and mirror. However, the former TCU lineman get after it opening lanes for his RBs. He looks as if he’ll be able to adapt to either man-power or zone blocking schemes. There’s a natural confidence in his game and Coach Reid can usually get the most out of big linemen with good instincts and game smarts.There’s enough NFL quality here to contribute early off the right flank but Niang is not ready for portside duty. The size and length cannot be overlooked and neither can his instincts.

 

4.32- L’Jarius Sneed, FS, Louisiana Tech

6’-192, 4.37x40, 12 bench, 41 vert, 131 broad

L’JariusSneed shifted from CB to FS last season. He was named 2nd-team All-Conference USA. Sneed had 3 INTs, took one back for a TD which was his 3rd in his college career. He is not a fast closerbut shows rapid recognition and anticipation. Sneed is not a big hitter but will stick his nose in on run support, finishing 2019 with 73 tackles.The good ball skills are a plus as Sneed likely will see action as a slot-CB. He is better with the play in front of and tends to get too grabby with receivers headed downfield. Tight hips are part of that issue. That 4.37-forty surely made the KC brass take notice, but Sneed does not play THAT fast. Chiefs are always in need of DB help and L’Jarius Sneed can chip in at CB, FS and slot-DB.

 

5.31- Michael Danna, DE, Michigan

6’2-261, 4.85x40E, 10.5 hand, 32.5 arm, 79.13 wingspan

No workout at Pro Day and no combine invite

Played college ball at Central Michigan until 2019 when he moved to Michigan. Danna had a solid 2018 for Central Michigan, 66 tackles and a team-best 15 for a loss. He took down QBs 9.5 times and forced 3 fumbles. Danna ended that year as the team MVP and 1st-team All-MAC. The transfer in 2019 to Michigan resulted in just 1 start, though Danna did play 13 games. He finished with 38 tackles and 3 sacks; nothing to fire up the scouting wires. There is a lack of burst and only average game strength in Danna’s performances. He isn’t quick or urgent enough to be a pass-rusher off the edge and not powerful enough to put his hand in the turf at end. Not sure why Mr. Veach even pulled the trigger on Michael Danna in any round as I could see this rather ordinary talent going undrafted. Special teams? Maybe, but why burn a 5th rounder on a ‘teams level player? Head-scratcher #2.

 

7.23- Thakarius"Bopete" Keyes, CB, Tulane

6’1-202, N/Ax40, N/A bench, 36 vert, 126 broad

Did not do full workout by choice; Pro Day never took place

BopeteKeyes played sparingly at Tulane until starting 10 of 11 games in 2018. He has attractive length as a CB and is a pesky type vs bigger WRs. Ball skills are not great and he picked off just 1 pass in 2018 and one more last season. He will break up passes and win often enough on contested throws however thanks to his longer arms. There was a bit of a decline in his effectiveness last season compared to 2018. Keyes has 11 passes defended the year prior and just 5 in his senior campaign. Still, Keyes gained honorable mention All-American I the Athletic Conference as a senior. He is a gambler and will far too often free lance. Better QBs and more savvy wideouts can work Keyes into anticipatory mistakes using double moves to get the CB off-balance. He isn’t great at making up lost ground either. There is a yellow caution flag regarding his long-speed. Bopete Keyes is probably more of a special teams type than a defensive talent. Again, not seeing the need for a draft pick spent on Keyes when he may have gone undrafted and his projection looks to be topped out on ‘teams. Head-scratcher #3.

 

The trade down that I expected never happened and for the first time since I started projecting Kansas city drafts, not one of my projections were chosen by Mr. Veach.

 

No sense over-analyzing this one as I really don’t get this draft after the Edwards-Helaire pick. Even the priority signings of the undrafted leaves me quite puzzled. QB Shea Patterson? If he ever throws an NFL pass in a regular season contest,I will be utterly shocked. Patterson is just 1 example.

 

Chiefs are working on getting the franchise locked up for years to come. CEO Clark Huntis looking to get contract talks with Patrick Mahomesgoing this off-season. That should be done before kickoff of the 2020 season.

 

Special teams guru Dave Toubis sounding as if he is going to lose the services of flashy WR/returner Mecole Hardman. Coach Reid is looking to get Hardman much more involved in the offense this season.

 

How much rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire plays will depend not only how much of the Coach Reid playbook he can digest, but also how effective he can be protecting Mahomes. One thing for sure is the rook is a compact rock back there and has the hitter mentality to get the job done. Stay tuned.

 

Ok, we now head into the dead-zone of the off-season, and it is likely to be even ‘deader’ than usual given the current health lockdown stuff still going on. No OTAs, no mini-camps, no rookie camps. Unless the NFL wants to broadcast the teams online coaching webinars for their respective players or virtual playbook studies, the summer may shape up to be quite uneventful regarding football. Let’s see what gives.

 

We’ll pow-wow again next month!

 

End.

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