Kansas City Chiefs April Scouting Report
Hey Chiefs fans, it is that time once again… DRAFT TIME IN THE NFL.
Ah, my time of the year! GM Brett Veach and the mighty Big Red, Andy Reid, have some work to do in Cleveland this week. Forget setting this article up…
LET’S DO THIS THING!
Ok, Last month I was quite sure Mr. Veach would be trading out of Round one since picking 31 is just about kicking off Round two. Well, the Boss Chief did just that but with a very strategic twist. The KC war room tandem of Mr. Veach and Coach Andy Reid knew what they wanted, planned ways to get what they wantedand are working the plan expertly.
I had a full blown layout of what I thought was the plan on draft day, complete with a detailed mock draft for the Chiefs. That version of my latest Eye in the Sky Report is now blown up thanks to the daring creativeness of Mr. Veach, trading with the Ravens for young perennial All-Pro LT Orlando Brown. Chiefs acquired Brown, the No. 58 pick in the 2021 draft, and a 2022 sixth-round pick from Baltimore for the No. 31 overall pick, a 2021 third- and fourth-round pick, and a fifth-round selection in the 2022 draft.
The current Chiefs’ roster as it stands is:
Patrick Mahomes, 26- Chad Henne, 36- Jordan Ta'amu,24- Anthony Gordon, 24
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 22- Darrel Williams, 26- Darwin Thompson24- Derrick Gore, 27- Elijah McGuire,27
Tyreek Hill,27- Demarcus Robinson, 27- Mecole Hardman, 23- Byron Pringle, 28- Joe Fortson, 26- Maurice Ffrench, 23- Antonio Callaway, 24- Dalton Schoen, 25- Gehrig Dieter, 28- Chad Williams, 27- Marcus Kemp, 26
Travis Kelce, 32- Nick Keizer, 26- Evan Baylis, 28- Sean Culkin, 28- Blake Bell, 30
Orlando Brown, 24- Martinas Rankin, 27- Lucas Niang, 23
Mike Remmers, 32- Prince TegaWanogho, 24
Joe Thuney, 29- Nick Allegretti, 25- Yasir Durant, 23- Bryan Witzmann, 31
Kyle Long, 33- Andrew Wylie, 27- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, 30
Austin Blythe, 28, Darryl Williams, 24
The Defense: (4-3 base defense)
Tim Ward, 24- Austin Edwards, 24
Frank Clark, 28- Taco Charlton, 27-Michael Danna, 24-Demone Harris, 26
Chris Jones, 27- Tershawn Wharton, 23-Khalen Saunders, 25
Derrick Nnadi, 25- Jarran Reed, 29- Tyler Clark, 23
Anthony Hitchens, 29-Ben Niemann,26- Dorian O'Daniel, 27- Emmanuel Smith, 26
Willie Gay Jr., 23- Darius Harris, 25- Omari Cobb, 24
Rashad Fenton, 24-Deandre Baker, 24
Tyrann Mathieu, 29-Chris Lammons, 25-Rodney Clemons, 25
Daniel Sorensen, 31-Juan Thornhill, 26-Armani Watts, 25
After the trade with the Ravens the Chiefs roster shows quality starting options and depth along the offensive line, edge-to-edge. Brown’s addition plus afew of key signings off the free agent market went a long way in solidifying the line of scrimmage for 2021. Andrew Blythe has been a quality starter for the Rams over the last 3 seasons, performing well as a RG for 2 years then shifting to center in 2020 and handling pivot like a pro. Veteran OG Kyle Long may not be the player of a few seasons past but he is tough, heady and plays to win. The potential/probable return of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and the continued good works of Andrew Wylie sets the right side and center of the Chiefs line in excellent shape. LG got a huge boost as well when GM Veach signed Joe Thuney, a lineman I had in my 2016 KC mock draft. Thuney has started every game the Patriots have played since he came into the league in 2016. This was an ACE of a move by Mr. Veach.
Now… about those tackle spots. Gone (but still unsigned in free agent land) are longtime starters Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. Fisher is now 30 and expensive to keep. Schwartz is 31 and has been vacillating between retirement and making a comeback from back surgery. Both players are options to return under a team-friendly deal, but it seem likely that Fisher moves on with a big ticket contract elsewhere. If the season started today the starting flanks of the line would be Orlando Brown and a steady-but-aged Mike Remmers. Behind them are Martinas Rankin, Lucas Niang and Prince TegaWanogho.The Kansas City Chiefs needed to address the tackles on both ends and this draft class is just the class to get that done. However Mr. Veach did not wait to see what might fall to him at pick 31 in round 1. The visions of franchise gem Patrick Mahomes being battered in the Super Bowl still fresh in their minds, the GM and Coach Reid cashed in early draft chips to secure the QB’s blindside for a long time if a new contract can be agreed upon with Brown.
The next 2 positions that are thin in depth and could use some upgrading as well are DE/Edge and CB. Frank Clark is back for 2021, and then what? Who? Taco Charlton was re-upped and Michael Danna is in the fold providing support behind Clark on the right. On the left edge are Tim Ward and Austin Edwards? TanohKpassagnonis no longer on the squad. Yep, DE must be addressed in Coach Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 schemes.
CB is another very important position that Mr. Veach allowed to thin out over this off-season. BashaudBreeland no longer dons an arrowhead helmet. L'Jarius Sneed is a solid slot/CB. L'Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton are good-not-great cover corners. Deandre Baker was a player the Giants traded up for in the draft but let go due to off-field issues. Baker was signed by the Chiefs late last season and got in the week 17 contest then promptly broke his leg. He’s back for 2021 but to what level of effectiveness?
Brett Veach is a smart and savvy judge of talent but he is obviously impatient and will not wait to see IF things work out at CB. He WILL go and get Coach Spags a good one in this draft. The position is well stock in the college ranks.
LB is the last position of real need heading into the 2021 draft. Anthony Hitchens has served his team well, steady but nothing over-and-above. He is 29 and will enter the 4th year of his 5-year contract in 2022. Damien Wilson was allowed to walk this off-season, leaving 2nd-year man Willie Gay as the potential next man up. Gay is an impressive athlete, but his game is still raw and undisciplined. Ben Niemann, Dorian O'Daniel, Emmanuel Smith, Darius Harris and Omari Cobb?
Yeah, Mr. Veach, get ye some linebackers!
The take on all this is the Chiefs need immediate response efforts at DE, CB and LB. I’ll throw in WR as well. That said, here’s who I think Mr. Veach and Coach Reid will select beginning April 29 in Cleveland at the 2021 draft, and when the Chiefs war room regulars will select them.
The details of the picks I show will be short-n-sweet due to that Orlando Brown trade literally erasing my previously finished report and my need to wrap this up ASAP.
The updated draft slots for the Chiefs post-trade are:
Round 2, Pick 58
Round 2, Pick 63
Round 4, Pick 144
Round 5, Pick 175
Round 5, Pick 181
Round 6, Pick 207
… and, Heeeeerrrre we go!
*DRAFT KEY NOTE: There are 2 wideouts that are sure to get full consideration by GM Brett Veach should one or the other still remain undrafted by this pick. Elijah Moore or Dyami Brown are perfect prospects to ride shotgun next to Kansas City’s WR1, Tyreek Hill. That said, should Moore or Brown be sitting there for the taking, there is your first pick for the Chiefs 2021 draft. However, it is not likely either of those playmaking receivers will be available, so…
… with their first pick in the SECOND ROUND of the 2021 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select:
2.26 (58):Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
6'1", 193- Campbell is fast and shows the desired length the Chiefs coaches look for in a CB. The Bulldog DB ran a solid 4.40x40 at Pro Day, did an OK 34.5" vertical and a 10’4" broad jump. He is twitchy in space, shadows well with a silky hip-flip. Campbell’s nifty footwork leads to excellent stop, recover and closing ability. He had 29 total tackles in 2020, 2.5 Tackles For Loss (TFL), picked off 1 pass for a 40-yard return and knocked down 5 throws. The Georgia prospect is fair tackling his cover receivers as well as in run support. Tyson Campbell could mature and grow into a top-12 cover CB in the NFL. He is a fine cover CB who translates to the NFL as a solid but unspectacular outside CB. Campbell’s ball skills need work, but his play and speed are smooth and swift. In time Campbell shines and he should see spot snaps in his first year before blossoming into a potential lock-down type in year 2. Charvarius Ward, L'Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton are the top three CBs right now, but Tyson Campbell has the cover skills to rapid develop into the best of the group sooner-than-later.
PLAN B: IfeatuMelifonwu, CB, Syracuse
5 other teams continue making their selections in round 2 and then the Chiefs are back on the clock with the 63rd overall slot, the 31st pick of round 2. With some hope and a lot of prayer, Kansas City finds a gift as they call out:
2.31 (63):Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
6'2", 233- Jabril Cox transferred from North Dakota State to LSU in for his final college season in 2020. His 3 years with the Bisons produce 258 combined tackles and over the last 2 seasons at NDSU he topped 90 total tackles and had exactly 9.5 TFL in each. Cox sacked QBs 14 times in 3 seasons at North Dakota State while defending 18 passes. He is a superb cover LB. Last year with LSU Cox finished with 58 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1 sack and 3 INTs in 10 games. He broke up 5 passes and returned 1 INT for a score. The skillful LB is sharp in man and slipping into zone cover, runs silky smooth with easy hip-flip and redirects. Cox is an impressive athlete who plays the full field and can star as an outside ‘backer or man the middle. What Cox does not do yet is play angry or very physical. He is not one to deliver the big blow. A more aggressive approach to get to the run rather than let the run come to him would raise his game more. Jabril Cox proved the step up in competition was not an overwhelming obstacle, picking up where he left off at North Dakota State. Cox is the best cover LB in this draft, period. He may not be the most physical but this smooth running ‘backer has the size and the willingness to mix it up if need be. His pass rush opportunities should grow as he matures in the pro ranks, lifting him into All-Pro status sooner than later. Why I think he may be available by the end of the 2nd round is that lack of aggression and physicality and only 1 full season of top-level college competition. Add in Cox did not drill in Pro Day workouts and enough teams may drop Jabril Cox a few rungs on their draft ladder.
Mr. Veach must replenish the linebacking crew with a top-level prospect like Cox to prep for the end of the Anthony Hitchens era. Cox offers the versatility to play inside or out and improve the range of cover on pass downs without substituting.
PLAN B: Pete Werner, ILB, Ohio State
After pick 63 the Chiefs sit tight until the 39th slot of 4th round. Again, Mr. Veach sits tight with his best poker face as teams go for best available players or fill needs. Round 4 is when the Chiefs effort to address the sparsely populated DE position. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo utilizes a rather traditional 4-3 base defense while a majority of the NFL uses some version of 3-4/4-3 hybrid schemes. There are not many true 4-3 defensive ends out there anymore, so the choices are pretty thin. The good news is a majority of teams look past even the talented 4-3 DEs in drafts because they often lack the multi-tasking toolbox to play the run, rush the passer and drop back into coverage like a 3-4 edge defender would. Mr. Veach anticipated this DE to slip through to this spot and he does (fingers crossed!). With the last pick in the 4th round, the Chiefs select:
4.39 (144):Payton Turner, DE, Houston
6’5", 268- Payton Turner is the perfect example of what a Pro Bowl type 4-3 DE looks like physically. He is big, balanced, long, athletic and a blend of speed and power. Turner also brings a nasty, aggressive attitude. The Cougar DE relishes the hit and drives into his tackles. He cannot be controlled by OTs for long. ON the pass rush he turns the corner low and strong and is a finisher who arrives at the QB in ill will. Turner is not perfect though as he will at times play high and tight, negating his speed/size advantages. He is still figuring out how to create a storyboard for his rush and veteran OTs in the NFL will figure him out rather quickly until he does. Though he is a 3-year starter at Houston Turner played just 5 games in 2020. He did flash in those contests racking up 5 sacks and 10.5 TFL. Turner aced his Pro Day drills, leaping 35.5" in the vertical and scorching the 3-cone at 6.98. His bench was solid with 23 reps, great for a long-armed DE. He has shown levels of advancement each season in college but has fought through injuries as well. The light came on in 2020 but the season was capped at just 8 games, with Turner playing just 5 due to knee and Covid challenges. Football fans may not know who he is,but once Turner understands consistent pad level and leverage, and how to avoid injuries, the sky’s the limit. If health holds up in his pro career, expect a DE who tallies up 8-10 sacks a year and chips in 40 solo tackles.To say his best football is ahead of him is an understatement. Currently the Chiefs have just Frank Clark as an above-level DE starter and Taco Charlton as a reliable sub. Tim Ward and Austin Edwards, projected to fill the opposite end from Clark, do not conjure up visions of waves of QB pressures, knock downs and sacks. With the solid coaching in Kansas City, Payton Turner does illicit those visions.
PLAN B: Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State
Barring trades, Kansas City’s war room watches and waits for the bottom portion of round 5. Assuming neither Elijah Moore or Dyami Brown were available way back in the 2nd round, this is the time to add another downfield weapon for power-passing Patrick Mahomes. GM Veach gives Coach Reid and Mahomes just that, but not a name many expect. With the 31st pick in the 5th round, Kansas City selects:
5.31 (175):Tre Nixon, WR, UCF
6' 0", 187- Tre Nixon started his college career at Ole Miss but the NCAA hammered Ole Miss with sanctions due to recruiting violations, the underrated playmaker transferred to Central Florida. IN the 2018 campaign Nixon started the full slate of games on the schedule (13) and showed well, snaring 40-562-14.1 YPR and 4 TDs. His follow-up year showed improvements in routing and results, especially in the YPR and TDs scored. That season (2019) Nixon again started 13 games, hauled down 49-830-16.9 YPR and 7 TDs. Last year, Nixon was hot until a broken collarbone capped his final as a collegiate receiver at 4 games. However, the Golden Knight was hot, ripping down 19 tosses for 260 yards, 13.7 YPT and 2 scores. Do that math over 13 games and Chiefs scouts are looking at a 62-850-13.7 YPR and 7 TD pace. Tre Nixon is a threat all over the field, short to deep, between the numbers or nimbly navigating the sidelines. He goes hard into his routes and pressures CBs. Love how he drives DBs off of him then hits the brakes and comes back for the pass. He has sound, 9 1/8" hands and gets the arms extended for added separation. Great concentration with a DB on him or tracking the long toss over the shoulder. Tyreek Hill’s presence will always draw double coverages and free up whoever is running opposite him. Nixon is a matchup problem for CBs set in man coverages and offers the juice on the field that returning WR3 Demarcus Robinson is missing. Coach Reid wants to get a long look at playoff contributor Byron Pringle as a potential starting WR2 in 2021, but new blood and fresh wheels are sorely needed as this team looks ahead to the near future. Tre Nixon may not be a known commodity yet… YET!
PLAN B: Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
Six picks later the Chiefs are back at it and the war room is active. Coach Reid has his way and another offensive lineman is brought into the fold. With the 37th pick in round 5, the Kansas City Chiefs take:
5.37 (181):Brenden Jaimes, OT, Nebraska
6' 5", 298- Brenden Jaimes (it’s not pronounced Jame-is; its Hi-mus) has the height Coach Reid and line guru Andy Heck desire at 6’5, but his arm length barely meets the Chiefs’ standard and Jaimes is light, under 300 pounds. So, what’s the attraction? For starters Jaimes is durable as heck, starting 40 straight games for Nebraska. He’s got line versatility, having started at both edges of the O-line. The Cornhusker has strong and very active hands, keeps those hands in-touch with the pass rusher and his feet in constant short-stepping motion. HE is a knee-bender and maintains balance and leverage throughout his pass protection efforts. Yes, Jaimes does not produce the same results blocking for the run. He’s not poor at the job but needs work and added sand in the pants. Jaimes obviously owns the frame to pack on quality pounds and the attitude to take his game up several notches under Coach Heck’s schooling. Here’s the closer for me though; after the 2019 season the Nebraska players voted Brenden Jaimes the team’s Offenive Most Valuable Player. So what Brenden Jaimes brings to the Chiefs is toughness, availability, versatility, skillful pass-protection, potential to fill-out and get stronger and an on-field leader who teammates recognizedas most valuable in the past. This is an Andy Reid kind of guy and he’s the guy near the end of round 5.
PLAN B: Josh Ball, OT, Marshall
The 6th round is the final chance for GM Brett Veach to make a draft night call as the club has no 7th rounder, to this point in time. There are still plenty of quality players on the board who could be of great service to the Chiefs. Coach Reid and Mr. Veach often though a strategic dart in the area of the secondary with these late-round selections. Just so happens in the 2021 draft, the final dart is fired and the target is the secondary once again. With the their last pick of the 2021 NFL draft, the Chiefs choose:
6.23 (207):ZechMcPhearson, CB/DB, Texas Tech
5' 10", 191- To say football is in the blood of Zechariah "Zech" McPhearson is a vast understatement. Zech’s father Gerrick played defensive back at Boston College and the Patriots. His brother, Gerrick Jr., was a7th-round pick out of Maryland in the 2006 draft. Brother Derrickplayed at Illinois and also was in the minor league system of the Milwaukee Brewers. 2 more bros’, Emmanuel and Ezekiel, played minor league baseball and football as well. Even Zech’ssister is an athlete, playing soccer at Wisconsin-Green Bay. He started his college career at Penn State but was mostly a reserve. After 2 seasons (2017-2018) he transferred to Tech and started for his 2 years there. ZechMcPhearsonstarted 12 games in 2019, netting 51 combined tackles, 2.5 TFL, 5 passes defended and2 blocked kicks. He topped Tech with 4 picks while knocking down 6 passes in 2020. In his 10 games McPhearson made 53 total tackles and was named 1st- team All-Big 12 last season.McPhearson is not a banger or a knock-down tackler but he does consistently wrap up and drag down his targets. There’s physical traits quite evident. Also quite evident are his excellent ball skills, a carry-over form his baseball days. Once he speeds up his read-and-react skills McPhearson may mature into a true ball-hawking centerfielder for the Chiefs defense. With all that football in his family McPhearson has got to be savvy and comfortable with most facets of the position. An added feature McPhearson brings to Arrowhead Stadium is his special teams play. He has a knack for making a play on the football, blocking kicks and making tackles. Zech ran the 40 in 4.48 seconds, and he demonstrated some explosive athleticism with a 40.5-inch vertical jump at Pro-Day. In individual drills, McPhearson showed evaluators that there was a fluidity to his game, along with his ball skills.ZechMcPhearson played CB at Texas Tech and his calling as a pro is most likely as a Slot-CB or straight up free safety. ZechMcPhearson is the kind of wildcard CB/safety/special teams ace every NFL coach cherishes or wishes they had on the roster.
PLAN B: Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
And there it is, the Kansas City Chiefs 2021 mock draft. Over the years that I’ve pieced together these projections I’ve managed to get 1-2 right and score 1-2 more in the priority free agent signings of the undrafted. Last year, as per the way the whole year went in and out of football, I failed to predict even 1 pick. I don’t know if this year will be a repeat of my 2020 misfired mock draft, but I feel good about the prospects and the possibility they end up donning the arrowhead red helmets in 2021.
The fun starts Thursday night. Let’s see how this turns out by Saturday evening. Enjoy!
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