The Kansas City Chiefs were the biggest surprise of the 2013 NFL season. The team that posted an NFL-worst 2-14 in 2012 broke out into a 9-0 start and finished the season at 11-5 to earn its first playoff berth since 2010.
If the Chiefs want to repeat what they did in 2013 and keep up with the other two competitive AFC West teams (sorry, Oakland), they will need to address important needs that appeared during the offseason.
Kansas City lost players to free agency at three key positions: offensive line, wide receiver and safety. Chiefs fans are hoping the team can have a solid draft and add the necessary pieces that will help the team contend in the division for years to come. As a San Diego fan, I would prefer to see the Chiefs trade away all of their picks for a tackling dummy and a sack of footballs.
As I stated above, Kansas City has needs at three important positions. Kansas City also faces one slight problem in this year’s draft — it doesn’t have a second-round pick. That pick belongs to San Francisco, who received that pick before last season as compensation for trading Alex Smith to the Chiefs. This leaves just six draft picks for the Chiefs, with 63 players being drafted between Kansas City’s first- and third-round picks.
The Chiefs have the 23rd pick in this year’s NFL Draft and have plenty of variety as far as which position they choose to address with their first pick. Here is a position-by-position analysis of the likely players they could choose and when they could decide to choose them.
Wide Receiver: This is likely to be the first need the team addresses. Dwayne Bowe tops the depth chart, but the next guy in line is Donnie Avery, who is rumored to lose his starting job as well as not even make the team in 2014. Adding another talented receiver will take pressure off of Bowe and give Smith a second option downfield.
One likely candidate that the Chiefs could select with their first pick is Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State. The Biletnikoff Award winner (given to the top wide receiver in college football) ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the fastest time at his position. That kind of speed and Cooks’ quick hands would make him a valuable slot receiver in Andy Reid’s offense.
A second option for Kansas City in the first round could be Odell Beckham, Jr. Beckham won the Paul Hornung Award in 2013, which goes to the most versatile player in college football. Beckham was a flashy punt returner as well as wide receiver for LSU. Drafting him would put him in a role that was left by Dexter McCluster, who joined the Tennessee Titans in April.
Other likely picks are Marqise Lee from USC and Cody Latimer from Indiana, who would be a stretch at No. 23 and a sign that the Chiefs are desperate for a
Defensive Back: Kansas City could elect to choose a safety with its first pick if the receiver I mentioned above are already taken by the time it goes on the clock. However, if the Chiefs do choose a receiver in the first round, look for them to use their third round pick on a defensive back.
Likely choices for Kansas City in the first round are Jason Verrett of TCU and Bradley Roby out of Ohio State.
If Kansas City does in fact use its third round pick on a defensive back, look for them to choose either Dion Bailey out of USC or Deone Bucannon from Washington State. Both of these players have enough talent and speed that they could start a rookies in the NFL.
Offensive Line: Jon Asamoah went to Atlanta. Geoff Schwartz is now with the Giants. The Chiefs have a holes to fill at offensive line. Don’t be surprised if Kansas City decides to add protection for Smith with their first pick. However, there is also a possibility the team could wait until the later rounds to select one or more linemen.
A likely first round selection would be Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA. If they decide to wait until the later rounds, the Chiefs could add Billy Turner from North Dakota State or Brandon Thomas from Clemson.
The NFL Draft begins with first round selections on May 8 and continues through May 10. Draft coverage can be seen on ESPN.