Kansas City Chiefs April Scouting Report
Who might be new Chiefs on the block once the 2017 draft is in the books? Will GM John Dorsey and Coach Reid focus on offense, namely running back and quarterback, or bolster the defense at linebacker and the front line? Dontari Poe is no longer clogging the middle of the line of scrimmage for KC, gone the way of free agency. Middle ‘backer Derrick Johnson isn’t getting any younger and is now a constant injury risk. Coach Reid can never have enough cover corners on his defense. And to assist the secondary in coverage Mr. Dorsey might look to juice up the pass rush that is currently reliant on explosive but fragile Justin Houston, enigmatic youngster Dee Ford and rapidly aging Tamba Hali creating pressure from the flanks. ON the other side of the ball, star and scarred RB Jamaal Charles was released and Knile Davis will play elsewhere in 2017. That leaves Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West as the best backfield options at this point. Ware wore down last year with his extended starter’s snaps and West has not been able to hold up when a bigger role was placed on his talented shoulders. A running back would seem to be in the draft mix for the Chiefs. QB Alex Smith once again has the full confidence of both coach and GM. But Smith turns 34 this season and his 2016 caddy, Nick Foles, was not brought back. Is it time to secure that "QB of the future"? The 2017 class of QBs is an underrated bunch. Drafting THAT guy now would allow Coach Reid to bring the new guy along at a comfortable pace. The o-line looks set and the wide receiver stable is talented and deep, and quite underutilized in this ultra-conservative scheme.
Offensive Players Visits and/or Workouts
Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
Garrett Fugate, QB, Central Missouri State
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh
Antonio Pipkin, QB, Tiffin
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Davis Webb, QB, California
Deante Burton, WR, Kansas State
Jalen Robinette, WR, Air Force
Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
King Frazier, RB, North Dakota State
Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
Aaron Jones, RB, Texas-El Paso
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
Elijah McGuire, RB, La.-Lafayette
Alex Ross, RB, Missouri
Sean Culkin, TE, Missouri
Colin Jeter, TE, LSU
Eric Saubert, TE, Drake
Jordan Roos, G, Purdue
Defensive Player Visits and/or Workouts
Josh Augusta, DT/NT, Missouri
Matthew Godin, DT, Michigan
Rickey Hatley, DT, Missouri
Ondre Pipkins, DT, Texas Tech
Carroll Phillips, OLB/DE/3-4OLB, Illinois
Jordan Willis, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Kansas State
Zach Cunningham, OLB/ILB, Vanderbilt
Elijah Lee, OLB/ILB, Kansas State
Donavin Newsom, OLB, Missouri
Dayon Pratt, OLB, East Carolina
Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple
Connor Harris, ILB/OLB, Lindenwood
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State
Michael Scherer, ILB, Missouri
Dante Barnett, SS, Kansas State
Fish Smithson, S, Kansas
Deron Washington, FS, Pittsburg State
Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Ezra Robinson, CB, Tennessee State
Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Specialists Visits and/or Workouts
Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State
Dalton Parks, P, Tulsa
The Chiefs are a solid team and this draft is all about filling a need or two while deepening the depth of talent across the board. With that, it is time for my annual projections for the Kansas City draft. I tend to nail 1 or 2 picks each season, identifying the likes of Mitch Morse, Charcandrick West, Phillip Gaines in the past couple of drafts. The priority positions I feel the Chiefs should get after are RB, ILB and DL. However, Mr. Dorsey has yet to ask me to join him in the war room with Coach Reid and throw in my 2-cents worth, so we must get inside the collective heads of the KC draft brass outside the draft room and project accordingly.
The KC 2017 draft is set in this order:
Round 1, Pick 27 (27)
Round 2, Pick 27 (59)
Round 3, Pick 27 (91)
Round 3, Pick 40 (104) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 4, Pick 26 (132)
Round 5, Pick 27 (170)
Round 5, Pick 37 (180) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 6, Pick 33 (216) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 6, Pick 35 (218) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 7, Pick 27 (245)
Team needs prior to this draft blueprint consistently pointed to defense, with CB the priority. ILB and DL also carry heavy consideration in the early rounds. However, in my efforts to force feed a CB in round 1 and either a DL or ILB with the 2nd pick, I realized the Chiefs were just not getting the value this draft class offers. CB is deep this year, and so nailing down the best available one with the 27th overall pick was kind of "settling" rather than aggressively filling a need. The same held true in the 2nd round, attempting to shoe-horn an impactful ILB or DE/DT. NFL drafters, especially savvy groups such as Kansas City’s crew, look to maximize personnel value early in the draft. There were good CBs available at 27, but just not the "wow" factor I would covet with MY first pick. So, my early draft plans went into the "round file". With that, I have my NEW draft hat on... and here we go!
Round 1, Pick 27 (27th overall): QB, Dashaun Watson, Clemson
If Gareon Conley of Ohio State is still waiting to hear his name called, Conley gets the call here. But his draft arrow is hotly flying upward and he should be property of another club before pick 27. The Chiefs need a shutdown corner to play opposite star Marcus Peters, but this is a deep CB class and KC takes a chance one will be there in round 2. Watson is one of 3 QBs that have had more than one visit with Coach Reid and company, DeShone Kizer and Garrett Fugate (more on him down the road) being the other two. Watson is an Alex Smith type QB that would project as a seamless transition when Smith’s days as the Chiefs’ starter comes to a close. Keep in mind Smith’s deal is up after the 2018 season and that final season his cap number might be a bit too burdensome for GM Dorsey. Drafting Watson in round one gives the club a 5th year option and keeps Watson affordable for at least 4 seasons. Coach Reid gets that and a very talented, mobile, versatile field leader that knows what it takes to win big games, having won a national title with Clemson last season.
Round 2, Pick 27 (59th overall): CB, Shaquill Griffin. Central Florida
This is a gutsy, tough CB that posted outstanding Combine results, ripping his forty in 4.38 seconds and lifting off for a 38.5 vertical and 11’ broad jump. Griffin is a late riser in this deep CB draft class, with excellent upside. He possesses excellent ball skills, closes on receivers rapidly and is an aggressive tackler versus the pass and supporting the run. He displayed fluid movement in his drills at the Combine. Some may see this pick as a reach, but I don’t wait to select what appears to be elite talent on the rise.
Round 3, Pick 27 (91st): DE, Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic
With the release of injured DE Jaye Howard, the Chiefs look for a DE to either rotate in with 2nd-year DE/DT Chris Jones. Jumping at the chance to select an all-around athlete, the Chiefs select Florida Atlantic’s Trey Hendrickson. He brings a far different dynamic to the 3-4 edge than departed Howard (301 pounds) as Hendrickson measures 6’4-266. HE gets after the QB with good lean around the tackles, and will chase down runner out of the backfield. Add in this penchant for blocking kicks (4 in 2016) and the Chiefs have a heck of a football player in the 3rd round. The other DE that has my eye here, should Hendrickson be off the board (someone really reached if so) is Villanova’s huge Tonah Kpassagnon. Towering at 6’7-289, Kpassagnon can seal off his end, has shown some ability to rush the passer and is a relentless run supporter off the edge. Thing is Kpassagnon is still getting better and can pack on even more muscle to lock down his side of the line.
Round 3, Pick 40 (104th) (Compensatory Selection): (I)LB, Elijah Lee, Kansas State
Another reach? Not really. Lee is a riser that many teams have been moving up on their respective draft boards. Lee is a rangy 6’2-229 ‘backer that can pack on a few more digits of muscle and move to the inside, learning the interior ropes sitting behind sage starter Derrick Johnson. DJ is again making an injury come-back and the wear-n-tear of football age is rapidly taking a toll on the longtime KC starter. The 104th pick is essentially an early 4th rounder, a good spot for Lee. His tackles totals grew the past 2 seasons (80 in 2015 and 110 last season). Lee rolled up 6.5 sacks and 5 picks in those 2 seasons combined. He won’t be ready to play this season, except maybe special teams, but should start to contribute defensively by 2018.
Round 4, Pick 26 (132nd): DT/DE, Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
Vanderdoes missed practically all of 2015 after tearing his left ACL. Prior to the injury the UCLA D-lineman was a terror up front for the Bruins. He is a disruptive force when he’s right. He returned in 2016 and though he played well enough, he failed to regain pre-injury effectiveness. Frankly, conditioning, or lack of it, sapped his explosiveness. I’ll blame it on post-injury rebound sluggishness and expect he’ll bounce back good-as-new as a pro. The 6’3-305 DT/DE fits the multi-tasking mold the Chiefs require on their defensive front. He is a fighter that takes on blocker with a powerful punch and attacking attitude and will offer a fine rotational tag-team partner for new DT/NT Bennie Logan.
Round 5, Pick 27 (170th): RB, Joe Williams, Utah
Originally, I had the Chiefs using a 4th rounder on Texas ground-pounding RB D’Onta Foreman. KC needs a RB that can dominate the turf inside the 10 as a rushing threat to score as well as a clock-eating closer. Foreman in the 4th had to be scrapped after GM Dorsey gave injured DE Jaye Howard his walking papers. Selecting a DE suddenly took precedent over the backfield (Trey Hendrickson in the 3rd followed up by Eddie Vanderdoes in the 4th). Coach Reid still is supplied an even more creative runner than Foreman in the 5th as Utah’s Joe Williams is called out. Williams has had an eventful college career, including "retiring" last season after a couple of games. Thanks to a few injuries Utah’s backfield was depleted and Williams was asked to unretire. Seems being away helped Williams find a new appreciation for the game and he went on to have a monster season, including a 332 yard- 4 TD performance in his 2nd game back. Williams is a 2-down tailback at this point that can create yards on his own if blocks are not there. He’s not much help in the passing game, but the Chiefs have Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and CJ Spiller (maybe?) to handle those assignments. Williams can set the table early, bang home scores in close and close out a game with a lead.
Round 5, Pick 37 (180th) (Compensatory Selection): WR, Mack Hollins, North Carolina
The selection of Hollins here is somewhat a luxury pick that could pay off in a variety of ways down the road. Hollins is a smooth-running deep router that, on the surface, doesn’t seem to fill a need or fit the KC conservative scheme. His value is much more than the occasional long-baller as he is a much more accomplished route runner than just a linear sort. Hollins has great hands, size (6’4-221), plays all phases of special teams and is a natural leader on the field. He’s a coach’s dream that could grow into a starting wideout here. Jeremy Maclin has been fragile, distracted and frankly disappointing. Mack Hollins in the lineup later and a special teams ace right now!
Round 6, Pick 33 (216th) (Compensatory Selection): G, Jordan Roos, Purdue
Out of the 50 or so prospects the Chiefs have met with or worked out, only one is an interior lineman. KC personnel folks actually invested time and expense to get a first-hand look at G Jordan Roos. Roos goes 6’5-302 and played his college ball at Purdue. At his Pro Day workout Roos put up 225-pound bench press a remarkable 41 times, 6 more than the best set of reps at the Combine this year. Purdue RBs had a solid campaign in 2016 thanks to the bulldozing of Roos. KC is set at guard as far as starters are concerned, but the depth is always a concern.
Round 6, Pick 35 (218th) (Compensatory Selection): ILB, Chase Allen, Southern Illinois
34-year-old Derrick Johnson is wearing down and breaking down. Young and impressive Ramik Wilson mans the inside spot next to DJ and he looks like a keeper. GM Dorsey knows finding a quality replacement in the 6th round for an impact defensive stalwart like Derrick Johnson is a long, longshot, but riser Chase Allen has the physical tools to give it a shot; or at the very least be a special teams operator. Allen tapes out at 6’3-241 and runs a nice 4.40-forty, with a practical 1.65-ten split. Southern Illinois’ leading tackler for the last 3 seasons, and if you watch tape of the young ‘backer you’ll understand how he does it. He’s a ball of energy fired out of a cannon with each snap. Allen is a strong tackler and a non-stop pursuer of the football. Honestly if KC wants Allen the club might have to call out his name a round or two earlier. Remember some guy named Zach Thomas for the Cowboys? What a pleasure watching his game film!
Round 7, Pick 27 (245th): QB Garrett Fugate, Central Missouri State
Coach Reid and the KC draft brass took the time to meet or workout just 3 QBs more than once in prepping for the draft: Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and Central Missouri State’s Garrett Fugate. Who!? Just a FYI, the Packers and Broncos know who this guy is. Watch this darn impressive QB’s tape and you’ll answer that question and understand why the Chiefs have interest in Fugate. The athletic QB goes 6’2-210 and runs his forty dash in the 4.6s. He is coming off a late 2016 ACL tear, yet managed to work out for teams. Scouts report the small school passer can spin it. I’ll take his potential over Alex Smith caddies Tyler Bray and Joel Stave. A short while ago Fugate was thought of as a priority free agent signing at best, but scouts have caught on and if KC wants Fugate, they must invest at least a last round flyer on the under-the-radar dual threat.
OK, I just went 7 rounds and 10 picks for this draft. Let’s see what Mr. Dorsey and Coach Reid do. This mock draft has been the toughest in years for me. The Chiefs are settled in many positions, but need depth help mostly across the board. I avoided the "best player available" route in an effort of filling positions and needs Coach Reid might want GM Dorsey to solve this draft. Frankly, I like the additions I have made for the Chiefs here. Hey Mr. Dorsey, I’m available for scouting duty if you are in need. You know where to find me.
John Cooney is a Senior Staff Writer for Fantasy Football Mastermind.
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