Kansas City Chiefs April Scouting Report
These pre-draft signing are terrific in that they help open draft day to the Chiefs to be able to take some risks and maybe trade up for a specific player (Zay Flowers???) or trade out of the first round all together while acquiring more picks, which doesn’t sound all that bad.
The Chiefs currently own the following picks:
Round 1, Pick #31
Round 2, Pick #32/63
Round 3, Pick #32/95
Round 4, Pick #20/122
Round 4, Pick #32/134
Round 5, Pick #31/166
Round 6, Pick #1/178
Round 6, Pick #40/217
Round 6, Pick #42/219
Round 7, Pick #32/249
Round 7, Pick #33/250
That’s 11 picksbefore the first overall call is made by the Carolina Panthers (Bryce Young, QB, Alabama!). We can fully expectGM Brett Veach and Coach Andy Reidto be navigating the draft, trading for position and even adding picks later this draft and/or future ones.
1. 31 (31)- Zay Flowers, WR, BC
CHIEF NOTE: I do not think Zay Flowers makes it to 31 so Mr. Veach will need to get creative trading up to pick Flowers (couldn’t resist!!). Flowers and the Chiefs draft bosses (Veach and Coach Andy) had a good, long visit recently, which either means the KC war roomies see Flowers as the ‘next Cheetah’ or it was just an expensive, time-consuming stoking of the smoke to throw other clubs off. I have no idea what kind of package the Chiefs brain-trust can wrap up to move high enough to secure Flowers. A solid Plan-B (maybe even 1-A) would be big, physical and fast Quentin Johnston. Johnston actually would be more of the need/fit as a contrary big-target/playmaker option for Patrick Mahomes, who currently is looking at sporty WR types like Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and Richie James. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is big and fast but mostly a linear routing deep-baller. One thing seems almost certain and that is the focus of the Chiefs to open their 2023 draft festivities is at WR, either trading up for Flowers or completely out of round 1 and addressing the position in the 2nd.
2. 32 (63)- Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC
CHIEF NOTE: After this season the Chiefs will need to work on (or not) new contracts for 7 defensive lineman, most notably Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Michael Danna. Jones, one of the elite versatile pass-pressure and sack-making linemen in the league, is going to be darn expensive for KC to keep in the fold. The dilemma is not just money but Jones will be almost 30 when his current paper runs out. Looking to get younger and a hedge on a potential Chris Jones vacancy, Mr. Veach turns in his round 2 draft card with USC DE/DL Tuli Tuipulotupenned in. Tuipulotu measured 6' 3"-266 at the NFL Combine. In 2022 the Trojan D-line star made 46 tackles, 22.0 Tackles For Loss (TFL), 13.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.He is quite underrated while still being a highly valued EDGE prospect of this draft. Tuipulotu’s versatility is overlooked, as is his athleticism. He comes from a football-playing family, brings a multitude of quality tools onto the field. Strong and powerful, displaying both often when rushing the passer. Tuipulotu is able to line up with a hand in the turf at DE, standing off the edge or inside in a quasi-DT role; sounds a lot like Chris Jones. He also will drop into outside LB mode, patrolling a zone and tracking down RBs venturing into his side of the field. Those in the know are not overlooking USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu and his vast array of talents off the edge and here that includes GM Veach and the Chiefs war room.
3. 32 (95)- Anthony Bradford, OL, LSU
CHIEF NOTE: Coach Reid and his unsung hero O-line coach Andy Heck have done wonders with middle-to-low round offensive linemen. The duo of dynamic Andy’s know grunt gold when they see it, from all levels of college competition. It was with confidence that the Chiefs waited until the 3rd round to turn draft attention to filling some gaps and potential gaps ahead on the line of scrimmage. Patience and confidence pays off in a big way here as the Chiefs rush to select LSU beast Anthony Bradford with the 95th overall pick. Bradford is an interior powerhouse at 6’4"-332. He crushed 34 bench reps at the Combine and his game film shows Bradford consistently driving D-linemen back off the line of scrimmage and out of rushing lanes. Bradford’s addition in the 3rd round can pay off in 2023 but is more of a look at what lies ahead for Coach Reid and his O-line status. Outstanding depth guard Nick Allegretti hits the open market after this season and stalwart LG Joe Thuney enters this season at age 30. Between those factors and job-one being keep Patrick Mahomes in one piece, O-line is always a priority under Coach Team Andys (Reid, Heck) and Anthony Bradford is the call in round 3.
4. 20 (122)- Nick Saldiveri, OL, OD
CHIEF NOTE: Chiefs are traveling 2 roads at this point in MY draft plan. If either one of Zay Flowers or Quentin Johnston have been selected earlier, KC the continues to build a wall of protection in front of Patrick Mahomes with the club’s first pick in the 4th round. With the 122nd pick of the 2023 draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Nick Saldiveri, O-line, Old Dominion. Why go back-to-back O-line here? Saldiveri is the ultimate combatant, a warrior who comes in as an OT but most likely makes his NFL mark inside at guard. At worst Saldiveri ends up a quality swing O-lineman, able to step in and man either guard or OT assignments when called on. However, under the outstanding O-line taskmasters Andy Heck and Andy Reid, Saldiveri rapidly lifts his already impressive talents and anchors a guard spot for years to come. Adding the Old Dominion dominator is an outstanding and heady choice considering current quality reserve Nick Allegretti plays to Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) status at the end of this season as does backup OT Prince Tega Wanogho.
If… IF the Chiefs do NOT land a WR in round 1, this spot is reserved for a ‘big’ WR. The Plan-B target here… Ole Miss big, tough and skilled wideout Jonathan Mingo.
4. 32 (134)- Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
CHIEF NOTE: With the draft plan mostly falling into place, Kansas City seeks to expand the WR options for QB Mahomes and create a balance in that WR group, opting for a big, tough but skilled target option to compliment those darty demons of the slot and short stems (Toney, Moore, James). Jonathan Mingo may not even be available come this point of the draft, and KC may no longer even own this draft slot. But hey, this is MY mock draft and, playing the long game, Mingo slides into the bottom of the 4th and the Chiefs count their blessings while turning in his card. Mingo taped in at 6' 2"-220 at the Combine. Posted a nifty 4.46x40 dash, a 39.5 Vertical, 10’9" Broad Jump and has huge 10 3/8" hands. Last season at Ole Miss he tallied 51-861-16.9-5 TDs. Size and power are Jonathan Mingo’s calling cards and he is an outstanding blocker as well as receiver. Mingo is not a crisp out router but he is a beast to tackle after the catch. Quite underutilized in Ole Miss run-heavy offense. CBs cannot hold him in press and that helps Mingo in ‘X’ formations, a spot where the Chiefs are lacking. Jonathan Mingo is set to make a mark in the NFL as a power-forward wideout and a force inside the redzone. Here’s hoping Mingo lasts to this spot, but a trade up a round may be in line to make it happen.
5. 31 (166)- Kahlef Hailassie, CB, Western Kentucky
CHIEF NOTE: So why didn’t the Chiefs go for a top-level CB at or near the top of this draft? Here’s one of the reasons… Kahlef Hailassie. Hailassie impressed those who hit his Pro Day to scout the CB up-close. He owns the length desired in today’s pro corners (6’-195) with 32.5" arms. He plays tough versus the run, covers well and displays excellent ball skills. His agility is eye-catching and showed up in his outstanding performances of the short shuttle (4.06 seconds) and 3-cone drill (6.68). Hailassie did not burn up the track in his 40-dash (4.55) but straight-line speed has rarely been a key factor for GM Veach and Coach Reid’s valuation process of CBs. Using top-of-the-draft slots also has rarely been the way of this KC war room to deliver top-quality CB play. L’Jarius Sneed has been nothing short of awesome and he was selected in the 4th round (2020). Last year’s surprise rookie starting CB opposite Sneed, Jaylen Watson, was a 2022-7th rounder. Some pro scouts have actually compared Hailassie to Watson and last year’s 4th round CB choice, Joshua Williams. On film and in drills, Hailassie actually looks a step above Watson and Williams. Hailassie racked up 123 tackles, 12 TFL, 4INTs, 15 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles over two seasons. He’s had Top-30 visits with Cincinnati and the Eagles… and the Chiefs. And oh-by-the-way, L’Jarius Sneed is without contract after the 2023 campaign. Gotta have that in view as well.
6. 1 (178)- Scott Matlock, DL, Boise State
CHIEF NOTE: Noting the D-line contract issues that loom ahead after this season is complete, it’s back to fortifying and hedging a potential loss of talents via free agency in 2024. Boise State D-lineman Scott Matlock is a quiet riser in this draft, especially after his outstanding Pro Day works. Many in the know have said Matlock had the best Pro Day performance of all at that Boise State showing. He is built for versatility at 6’4-300 but proved his power, benching 225 pounds 29 for 29 reps. Looked darn fast and smooth in his 4.81-forty dash and nimble in posting a 4.27 short shuttle. He was not invited to the Combine but his 29 bench reps qualify as 3rd best of all DL participating at the Combine. Matlock fits the profile for Coach Reid and D-coach Spagnuolo. He was a team captain at Boise State, plays with energy and is darn effective. A 3-year starter (46 games experience), Matlock rung up an impressive 115 tackles, 19.5 TFL and 11.5 sacks. His versatility and willingness to do whatever asked is an endearing quality. Matlock took some snaps on offense and caught 2 TD passes. He shined at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl with 2 tackles and a sack before acing his Pro Day. Matlock has been busy in Top-30 visits, meeting with the Patriots, Jaguars, Bengals and Jets. He has not had a visit with the Chiefs, but that is often the case with lower round prospects who may be coveted by teams. Scott Matlock it is in the 6th.
6. 40 (217)- Jose Ramirez, EDGE, Eastern Michigan
CHIEF NOTE: It took a while for Jose Ramirez to get going in college but he sure did get it going when it counted. IN the truncated 2020 season Ramirez got his chance to start and did so for all 6 contests played by WMU. Ramirez popped for 27 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks. IN 2021 Ramirez broke out for a full season, bagging 62 tackles, 11 TFL and 6.5 sacks along with 4 passes knocked down and 2 forced fumbles. Last year he was even better with 66 stops, 19.5 TFL and 12 sacks. He is a pass-rushing demon off the edge, but not the greatest of run-stoppers. A dynamic athlete and QB-pressure-cooker like Jose Ramirez isn’t drafted for the run and the Chiefs must look to bolster the pass rush. Ramirez slips to the 6th round due to being an older rookie prospect, and that’s okay for Chiefs.
6. 42 (219)- Xazavian Valladay, RB, Arizona State
CHIEF NOTE: The success of Isiah Pacheco as a 7th-round rookie last year gives Mr. Veach and Coach Reid confidence in waiting to add RB depth late in the draft and secure a productive talent in the process. Xazavian Valladay is receiving little to no hype. Valladay is a 5th year senior who plays with a maturity and completeness that comes with that practical game experience. He is also a darn good back playing with efficiency and producing quietly outstanding numbers and game film. Valladay does the things that coaches recognize, is versatile and deserving of consideration alongside the more hyped RBs in the 2023 draft. He’s played impressively for 2 different programs and there’s more to come as a pro. Not a Combine invite, Valladay measured : 5’11"-204 at his Pro Day. Ran a swift and smooth 4.46X40, rocketed a 40 Vertical and cleared a 10’3" Broad Jump. Last year at Arizona State Valladay rolled out 215-1192-5.5-16 TDs rushing; 37-289-7.8-2 TDs receiving. He was previously a 3-year starter at Wyoming and broke 1000 rushing yards 2 of his last 3 years at there. Was on his way to another 1000+ campaign in 2020’s abbreviated schedule. Currently the Chiefs show Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and La’Mical Perine as the only 3 backs on the roster, and the club did not pick up the 5th-year option on Edwards-Helaire. Valladay is needed and he fills a potential hole in the KC backfield rotation immediately.
7. 32 (249)- Derek Parish, EDGE/FB, Houston
CHIEF NOTE: GM Veach loves ‘football players’ who can go out and perform in a variety of roles. That’s Derek Parish in a nutshell… a football player. He’s not ‘big’ enough to start as an NFL EDGE defender at 6’-241, but don’t tell Parish that. Parish was on his way to forcing pro scouts and keep tabs in the early going of last season, tearing it up with 5.0 sacks, 8.5 TFL in the first 4 games. The highlight of that run was week 2 versus Texas Tech whee Parish destroyed Teck for 4.5 sacks and 6.5 TFL, 11 total stops and a forced fumble. A torn biceps ended that white-hot run and the college career for Parish. Parish efforted to enhance his draft chances by adding to his skill set while out of action and worked on fullback skills. He got his chance to ‘show’ at the Houston Pro Day and was brilliant, racing the 40-dash at 4.56, a 37 vertical, 4.09 in the 3-cone and 6.76 short shuttle. The Biceps is fine as he benched 27 reps to boot. The Chiefs lost FB Mike Burton this off-season and will seek to fill that void. Burton was versatile and checked in at 6’-243… Parish fits that mold perfectly and is the pick in the 7th.
7. 33 (250)- Ben Sims, TE, Baylor
CHIEF NOTE: When the 2023 season is over TEs Blake Bell and Jody Fortson will be free to shop their talents elsewhere. Travis Kelce will be 34 and the only notable reserve is Noah Gray, a 5th rounder in the 2021 draft. Heck, let’s roll some TE dice at the end of our draft and bring in Baylor’s Ben Sims. Sims tapes out at 6’4-250 and is a KC-friendly 4.58-40 dash athlete. He hit a nice 36 vertical at his Pro Day and 10’2" Broad Jump. Sims is experienced with 43 games played and 30 starts. Over that span he snared 78 passes for 785 yards and 12 TDs. Those are quietly impressive numbers considering Sims played most of his snaps as a traditional, in-line tight end. Sims can run, catch and block. He is impressive in game film and overlooked. A potential gem in the 7th.
So, there it is. And the real drafting begins tonight. Zay Flowers? Quentin Johnston? No picks at all tonight after trading out? We shall see.
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