Okay, it’s creeping up on us people. We can now count on our fingers and toes how many days remain until the NFL Draft. I’m getting very excited just thinking about all of the possible prospects that will improve our beloved Chiefs. A few weeks back, I released version one of my “Blueprint.” I received a lot of suggestions and critiques, and I took them into account for version two. Unlike in version one, I will not be going through free agent pickups and player re-signings. My opinion on those players and moves have not changed. For those that are not familiar with version one, it can be viewed here.
For this one, I will focus solely on the draft. I’ll try and channel my inner Scott Pioli and make the best picks for the Chiefs immediate future and distant future. It’s a hard thing to accomplish because we all know what positions have major holes and which do not. The thing I tried to keep in my when developing this mock draft was that, in order to build a consistent contender, there must be foresight. Holes must be filled via the draft, but depth must be built as well. This mock draft will look drastically different than the previous one. So without further adieu, here is my Blueprint: Sustaining the Success of the Kansas City Chiefs.
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- ROUND 1 -
The first pick for the Chiefs is a tricky one. The majority of fans wanted Nose Tackle Phil Taylor. Most analysts’ have been mocking him to the Chiefs for the past several weeks. Recently, a report came out stating that Combine medical tests revealed that Taylor had serious medical issues with the bones in his feet. Since the report, Taylor is widely not considered a viable option for the Chiefs.
With that news, most have turned their attention to the offensive line, and so have I. I’ve gone with Florida Center/Guard, Mike Pouncey, and I’ve done so for multiple reasons. First and foremost, he fills a huge need and provides much needed depth for the offensive line. He’s a big and athletic guy that possesses the ability to play any one of the three interior positions along the offensive line.
This pick makes sense to me because it hits on the things that I perceive to be in the equation when Pioli is picking in the draft. Pouncey played in the SEC and was a team captain. He is regarded as being very versatile, having blue-collar work ethic, and possessing top-notch character traits. Pioli tends to go with safe picks, and this is about as safe as it gets for the first round.
The Chiefs could obviously go with a plethora of Outside Linebacker prospects here, but none of them hold the value that Mike Pouncey does. They are huge risks, and risks are what Pioli doesn’t take in the first round. They could also go with a Tackle prospect, but I hold Pouncey in a higher regard.
- ROUND 2 -
Another huge need for the Chiefs is Receiver. Since Todd Haley and Scott Pioli landed in Kansas City, they’ve been searching high and low for receivers. None of the ones they’ve brought in have panned out, so now it’s time to turn to the draft to fill the need. The type of receiver that I feel best fits opposite of Dwayne Bowe is a speed guy. Someone who can stretch the field vertically.
Since the draft is deep with defensive players and Quarterbacks, Receivers are slipping to the 2nd round, making it the round to invest in one. With the Chiefs second round pick I’ve decided to go with Torrey Smith out of Maryland. Not only is he a vertical threat, but he also poses a threat in the middle of the field because of his ability to pick up YAC. Adding a guy like Smith not only adds to the chemistry in the locker room, but he also will affect many areas of the offense.
Towards the end of last season, Dwayne Bowe saw a ton of double coverage. He was frequently taken away, leaving Matt Cassel no one to throw to outside of the numbers. Smith lifts that double team, and allows Bowe to work one-on-one. He’ll also keep defenses honest in the running game. No more 8-man fronts for Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. If defenses chose to stack the box, Smith has the ability to make them pay over the top.
Like Pouncey, Smith fits the profile of a Pioli pick. The work ethic and character are there. He’s not your typical diva receiver. He places the needs of the team above his own. The value is there. The Chiefs can go with Nose Tackle Jerrell Powe or Hybrid defender Sam Acho, but neither present the value that Torrey Smith does.
- ROUND 3 -
This pick may come off as a strange one seeing as how we have two terrific starting Cornerbacks. However, I look at their current contracts and realize that Brandon Carr is on a one year tender, and Brandon Flowers only has a year left on his deal. Remembering back to Pioli’s days in New England, no matter the talent, Cornerbacks were some what expendable when their contracts came to an end or became too big. He didn’t resign Ty Law when he was in his prime, and he traded away Asante Samuel in his prime. We have no idea what will happen with our two stud Corners.
I also look to Pioli’s pre-Draft press conference and hear him talking about how there is no number one need for the team and that they’re building the team for the long haul. That method of thinking brought me to this pick. Marcus Gilchrist out of Clemson is a terrific Cornerback/Free Safety and fits into what the Chiefs like to do on defense. He excels in both man and zone coverage, and is solid in run support.
You can never have enough depth at the Cornerback position. We drafted Javier Arenas last year, but he is more of a slot Corner. Gilchrist adds immediate depth to our top two guys and our Free Safety position. He may eventually take over for one of them if contracts aren’t worked out in the future. He also is a return guy. If for some reason, Dexter McCluster and Arenas can’t go, Gilchrist can field kicks and punts.
It’s a recurring theme for my picks — value, safe, character, work ethic. Gilchrist offers all of that and more. What I truly love about him is his intelligence and diversity. Not many guys have the skills to play positions in multiple schemes or the football IQ to pull it off.
- ROUND 4 -
As we all know, Brodie Croyle is not a NFL caliber quarterback. There have been times where we’ve needed to rely on him and he has failed to provide. The Chiefs need to invest in a backup Quarterback. Matt Cassel is a mobile guy and can be susceptible to injury. The forth round may seem a little early to invest in a pure backup player, but I think it’s the perfect time to get someone with true potential.
Ricky Stanzi of Iowa is a solid developmental guy that Haley and Zorn can mold into a future starter. His career started off rough, but he worked to right the ship. During his senior year, he had terrific production and led his team to a winning record. With his size and production, he really reminds me of Matt Cassel. I see them in a similar light, so why not pair the two together?
I don’t think it would be wise for the Chiefs to resign Brodie Croyle or go into the season with Tyler Palko as the immediate backup to Cassel. We’ve all seen the importance of a quality backup with our Chiefs and around the league. For evidence to how important these guys are, look no further than Matt Cassel when he was a backup for the Patriots. When Brady went down, he stepped in and led the team to an 11-5 record.
Scott Pioli has a relationship with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and has inside information on his players. That’s how the Chiefs came away with Tony Moeaki in lasts years draft. Stanzi offers the work ethic and starting potential you want in a back up quarterback. I know it gets old but, the value, safeness, and character are there.
- ROUND 5 -
Last year the Chiefs hit the jack pot with Tight End Tony Moeaki. Prior to him, the cupboard was bare and the offense felt the effects. Behind Mokeaki, there still isn’t much. Pope is adequate, but he can be upgraded. He still struggles with blocking and has never been a big part of the passing game.
Scott Pioli loves Tight Ends and the SEC, so why not combine the two. DJ Williams is a guy that a lot of people are forgetting about. He doesn’t possess the prototypical size you’d like for your number one Tight End, but luckily we already have a number one. Williams is a fantastic catcher of the football and a terrific run blocker despite his size. He comes from a pro style offense and knows how to eat up zone coverage.
Last year, Moeaki lined up all over the place. He could be seen in the slot, on the line of scrimmage, and in the backfield. I would like for Moeaki to stay on the line because of his exceptional ability to block. Williams could take over the duties of H-Back and be that blocker/receiver. With his size and athleticism, he’ll cause match-up issues for defenses, similar to Aaron Hernandez and Chris Cooley.
Out of all the players in this mock draft, Williams may have the best character, and that’s saying a lot. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would fit in with the players the Chiefs offensive philosophies. He’ll give the Chiefs more diversity and options on offense. There’s nothing better than lining up in a two Tight End set, running a play action, and having the Tight Ends open down the seam.
Many Chiefs fans see the Nose Tackle as the biggest need on the team, and so do I. It’s a position that has needed to be filled since the switch to the 3-4 was made two years ago. Both Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith did an admirable job last year, but neither are currently under contract. The Chiefs will need to look to the draft as well as free agency to fill this void.
I’m sure a lot of you are reading this and wondering, “why in the hell did he wait until the 5th round to address this need.” Well, I did so because the other opportunities to get a Nose Tackle didn’t present good value for the Chiefs. Jerrell Powe in the second round was a big reach. Kenrick Ellis would have been ideal, but his character issues stopped me from making him the pick. Ian Williams in the 5th round presents solid value.
He’s got the girth, height, and size to man the position. He would for sure need time to develop. No rookie nose tackle, no matter who it is is going to come in and make a big impact in year one. Williams will be apart of a rotation, equivalent to the one Edwards, Smith, and Toribo were in last year.
Similar to last year, there is a possibility that the Chiefs don’t even draft a Nose Tackle. If they do, I believe it will be in the later rounds where the value equals the pick and player. Some may point to Pioli reaching for Tyson Jackson in the 2009 draft, and expect for him to do that again with a Nose Tackle. I think that was a rare thing. Looking back on his last 10 years, he tends to not reach for guys.
- ROUND 6 -
Watching the Chiefs running game in 2010 made me quite proud to be a Chiefs fan. The tandem of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones excelled. Through week one all the way through week seventeen, the Chiefs led the NFL in rushing. That is no small feat with the likes of Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and Maurice Jones-Drew roaming the league. Unfortunately, Thomas Jones is getting up there in age and his skills are diminishing.
In a running back class that is deep in the middle rounds, players often get lost in the shuffle. That is the case for Louisville tail back, Bilal Powell. Powell has the stats to prove his worth, but the fact that Louisville isn’t regarded as a football school, gets him over looked when talking Running Backs. He plays the game with a relentless passion that shows up in every touch of the ball. He’s got solid speed, vision, and toughness. He’s the perfect compliment to Jamaal Charles.
When you really think about it, the Chiefs don’t have someone that can take over for Thomas Jones once he leaves. There’s Dexter McCluster, but he is more of a scat back. Then there’s Jackie Battle, but he is solely a short yardage back. Bringing in a guy now allows for Thomas Jones to wear off on him, that way when it’s time to step up, he’s ready.
- ROUND 7 -
In a 3-4 defense you can never have too many Linebackers. It always good to have depth, and players who can play on special teams. The basis of this pick is just that. There are no immediate intentions of Mario Harvey starting in the near future. At this moment, he is not an upgrade over our current starting Inside Linebackers.
However, he does possess the skills and speed to work his way up. He’s a 4.4 athlete that is a tackling machine. Many analyst have pointed to his diminutive stature, dismissing him as a legitimate player, but I always say, “that didn’t stop Zach Thomas.” I think Harvey is a guy we’ll be hearing a lot about further down the line.
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Be sure to visit version one of my Blueprint to see the free agent signings and re-signings. Some players listed in the starting lineups are from those list. Version 1 here.
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Conclusion: As you guys can see, not every need was filled. No Strong Side Outside Linebacker was taken (and you know how I feel about SOLB), no Right Tackles, and no high Nose Tackles, and that’s okay. The draft is not solely about filling every immediate need. It’s a combination of picking based on need, creating depth, and picking the best players in the country that fit your philosophies. Picking to fill needs fixes immediate issues, but leaves you exposed to poor depth and future issues. The Chiefs are trying to build a long term contender and this is how I envision them doing so.
I feel that the players that I have selected fit the “Right 53″ moniker. They are all hard workers who will contribute to the teams chemistry. They’ll also contribute in one way or another on the field. Some as starters, and others as special teams players and backups. I realize that not everyone will agree with my ideologies and selections. If you disagree with something, please feel free to let me know. I take all critiques into account when doing these mock drafts. Thank you for reading. Be sure to “Like” this article, Re-Tweet it. I’ll see you next week for the final version of, Blueprint: Sustaining the Success of the Kansas City Chiefs.
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