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Kansas City Chiefs February Scouting Report
Welcome to the 2022 football season. No rest for the gridiron weary and we are already prepping for the Combine, Pro-Days then the draft. There really is no â€˜offâ€™ season in the NFL, is there?
The Chiefs have some business to tend to while gathering their pre-Combine notes on the various players invited to the festivities in Indianapolis. Front-and-center is what to do with the Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA), as well as the Restricted Free Agents (RFA). Kansas Cityâ€™s UFAs are quite abundant and with a tight salary cap situation ($8.7 million under the cap), GM Brett Veach has some challenging decisions to make. There are 23 UFAs on the KC docket after the recent release of veteran LB Anthony Hitchens. The headliners in this free market group are OT Orlando Brown, DBs Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen, DT Jarran Reed, EDGE Melvin Ingram, CBs Charvarius Ward, Mike Hughes, RBs Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon, WRs Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and OL Andrew Wylie, Austin Blythe, Mike Remmers and Kyle Long.
It is clear that the O-lineâ€™s depth will take a hit here as well as the CB position. The UFA wideouts are replaceable but the need for a quality WR2 opposite Tyreek Hill becomes even greater should neither Robinson nor Pringle be brought back. And given the limited cap space (currently), how much is Mr. Veach willing to spend on the already devalued RB position (McKinnon and Williams being UFAs)?
LT Orlando Brown will for sure be the priority for the Chiefsâ€™ GM, having invested much already to acquire the former Raven blindside blocker. At worst Brown ends up getting the franchise tag. McKinnon is a sportier version of Williams out of the backfield and would likely agree to a team-friendly deal. Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) RB Derrick Gore impressed in his limited windows of opportunity and would be a much more cap attractive option than the veteran Williams, and one that can deliver much of the same as Williams in terms of on-field production. Darrel Williams appears to be the odd-RB-out. The draft could be used to add on a late rounder for depth for 2022. Zonovan Knight, North Carolina State, is a looker. USCâ€™s Keaontay Ingramcould be had between rounds 4-5 unless heâ€™s rips up his Combine drills. Going the UFA route, wouldnâ€™t mind the likes of Duke Johnson (Miami), Justin Jackson (L.A. Chargers), Chase Edmonds (Cardinals) or even bringing back McKinnon at a good rate. Hey! Wouldnâ€™t James Conner look awesome lining up behind Patrick Mahomes? Probably too pricey after blasting over 1100 yards from scrimmage and 18 total TDs.
There are a number of UFA wideouts on the open market that Kansas City could bring in at a reasonable cost and deliver the much-needed â€˜otherâ€™ weapon outside. We can forget the Bucsâ€™ Chris Godwin, AFC rival Mike Williams of the Chargers, Dallas skillful WR3 Mike Gallup or world champion Odell Beckham Jr. as potential additions; they just cost too much for the Chiefsâ€™ 2022 budget. Will Fuller is a tease but he just is too darn injury-prone and cannot be counted from week-to-week. Josh Reynolds and Zach Pascal are more of the same that Demarcus Robinson already has delivered (or NOT delivered). However, Arizonaâ€™s Christian Kirk is very intriguing, owns high-end WR2 tools, is a KC scheme fit and just might come in at a reasonable price. Kirk is still just 25 years old and would be a rather lethal playmaking threat alongside Tyreek Hill. Others that catch the eye here are Green Bayâ€™s Marquez Valdes-Scantling and the Cowboysâ€™ off-the-bench-ace Cedric Wilson. Of course, the draft is another pool of wideouts rich in quality talent with an array of abilities. Even wading into the 2nd, 3rd or 4th rounds could hook prized pass-catchers such as Christian Watson out of North Dakota State, Ole MissDeebo Samuel type Dontario Drummond, Cincinnati Bearcatâ€™s excellent Alec Pierce, or Senior Bowl riser Skyy Moore(one of my faves already!!!) of Western Michigan.
On the other side of the ball, UFAs Melvin Ingram and Tyrann Mathieu are sure to have serious contract talks with Mr. Veach. The Chiefs traded for the still disruptive edge defender ahead of last seasonâ€™s trade deadline and Ingram ended up being a key to energizing the defense. The plan to resign Ingram may be the reason for the release of Anthony Hitchens to make cap space. Mathieu is a defensive QB out on the field and has made it clear he wants to return. The Chiefs had eyes for Mike Hughes back when he was a prospect, and eventually traded for him before the 2021 campaign. Hughes did not disappoint in his cover assignments or his special teams role and he is going to be a re-signing target. Dan Sorensen probably played out his KC string. Younger DEs Mike Danna and Joshua Kaindoh could make Alex Okafor expendable. DT Derrick Nnadi could be out and replaced by either Lorenzo Neal Jr. or Darius Stills. Armani Watts is an ace special teamer who should be wrapped up affordably.
On the transaction front, other than the release of LB Anthony Hitchens, the following players were inked to futures contracts:
FEB 11 2022
Josh Pederson, TE
FEB 7 2022
Jonathan Woodard, DE
Nakia Griffin-Stewart, TE
Brandin Dandridge, S
FEB 5 2022
Justin Watson, WR
Darryl Williams, C
Mark Vital, TE
Cornell Powell, WR
Devon Key, S
Roderick Johnson, T
Darius Harris, OLB
Josh Gordon, WR
Daurice Fountain, WR
Austin Edwards, DE
Gehrig Dieter, WR
Matt Bushman, TE
Cortez Broughton, DT
Dicaprio Bootle, CB
Of note here, Justin Watson is most intriguing. Cornell Powell has another shot, Josh Gordon (UGH!), TEs Josh Pederson and Matt Bushman are lengthy pass-catcher types.
The Combine is just ahead, and Iâ€™ll begin to dig into the potential draft targets for the Chiefs in next months Eye in the Sky Report.
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