The Kansas City Chiefs had the most bizarre offseason of any team in the league with a number of twists and turns that changed the face of the draft a few times. First, they hired Andy Reid to be their head coach and have a lot of influence on personnel. After many presumed they would take a quarterback and likely Geno Smith with the first overall pick, the Chiefs traded a second round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith to be their starting quarterback. They franchised Branden Albert to what many presumed early on to be their left tackle and cut their starting right tackle in Eric Winston. They made noise to the effect that they wanted Albert to play right tackle and would draft a left tackle with the first pick in the draft. Albert was dangled as trade bait in a potential deal with the Miami Dolphins but that never came to fruition. Finally, Albert is made their left tackle this year which leaves a hole at right tackle. In addition to all of this, the Chiefs used free agency to fill their needs and enable them to go with the best player available with all of their picks, which is what they did. They took a number of talented players and down the road it could be brilliant, but in the short term, the picks are a little confusing given what the Chiefs currently have on their roster.
With the first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chiefs took Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan. Fisher looks like a power forward boxing guys out with impressive feet and technique that make him an impressive pass protector. He is a solid contributor in the running game that should only improve as he adds more strength on his huge frame. The frustrating part of this pick is that he will be their right tackle in his rookie year. The tandem of Albert and Fisher is a potentially incredible one, but with Albert’s situation, they could be moving Fisher to left tackle next and moving Albert out, which is good from the standpoint that it means using the top pick in the draft on a franchise tackle but it also means that these moves for the past two years leave them potentially weaker than when they started. Fisher’s talent and potential is far greater than Albert, who has been effective but battled issues with his back.
They would need to find a suitable right tackle for next year and they have an athletic tackle in development courtesy of Scott Pioli from his last draft in Donald Stephenson, so they could ultimately end up with Fisher and Stephenson as their bookends next year. Stephenson is a talented swing tackle now and could become the answer at right tackle, but if not, they will have to find someone who can do the job there. Fisher is a great talent and a great fit for the Chiefs and he could end up being a great player, but it is frustrating that they took steps backward to potentially take steps forward.
With the second round pick being used to acquire Alex Smith from the 49ers, the Chiefs next pick was the first pick of the third round. They selected Travis Kelce, a tight end from Cincinnati. This is a great value in terms of where they got him. On talent alone, Kelce was at least a second round pick and potentially could have cracked the first round but there were character questions that dogged him. To this point, what was the source of those character concerns is still not clear to the public beyond speculation but Kelce had issues that cost him an entire season while attending Cincinnati.
Kelce is a tremendous talent who can block well and has experience doing it inline, in the slot, and as an H-back in the backfield. He not only was an effective blocker but in many games, a dominant one. In addition, Kelce was also a developing receiving threat that was getting better and better. He is more of that lumbering, Mark Bavaro style tight end that would catch the ball, get behind his pads, and run through someone rather than run around them. In many ways, Kelce was a throwback and as long his issues are behind him, he can be a big time player in the NFL.
The pick makes a ton of sense on talent, but is a little less clear on the depth chart. Andy Reid inherited a talented tight end in Tony Moeaki, who has looked great but dealt with some injuries. They also had brought in Anthony Fasano from the Dolphins in free agency to be their second tight end. Fasano is a blue-collar tight end who is primarily a blocker but can catch the ball, move the chains, and be a red zone threat. Kelce comes in as the third string tight end. Outside of goal line and special teams, the best case scenario for the Chiefs is that Kelce never sees the field this year because Moeki and Fasano stayed healthy and played well. Kelce has more upside than perhaps both of those players, but this is a long term pick. Kelce could potentially take reps from one of the guys above him and perhaps the Chiefs staff is coming up with creative ways to use all three tight ends, but it is a pick for the future rather than this year.
The Chiefs had a compensatory pick at the end of the third round, which they used on Knile Davis, the talented running back from Arkansas. When healthy, Davis had first round talent. The problem is that Davis has missed significant time with injuries during his career, particularly with his legs and ankles. While extremely talented, Davis has skinny legs which can be problematic for a running back in football and led to problems for another former Razorback, Darren McFadden, who has an extremely similar build asDavis. The other issue that has plaguedDavis is ball security as he has a number of fumbles.
The flip side of this is that Davisis strong, fast, agile, and a guy who can take a hand off or a pass to the end zone. He showed the ability to take over and break games over while he was at Arkansas, which is why the Chiefs opted to take him here. In many ways, he is a good fit behind Jamaal Charles and could potentially be a good 1-2 punch with both backs having similar styles. They go from a speed threat that can score on any given play to another speed threat that is a threat to score on any play. Both can contribute as receivers out of the backfield. It makes sense for the Chiefs in a lot of ways. Still, it does feel like a slight reach and a risky one given some of the other running back options on the board. Getting another running back was a need for the Chiefs and they addressed it, but this is a huge boom or bust pick for them here, which is hardly the end of the world at the end of round three.
Two picks later, the Chiefs opted to address their front seven and add more depth to their linebackers when they selected Nico Johnson, an inside linebacker from Alabama. With the tragedy that involved Jevon Belcher, the Chiefs had to address their inside linebacker position next to Derrick Johnson, who has been a stud for them. The Chiefs brought in Akeem Jordan to make sure they had someone there but adding Johnson gives them competition. This was arguably the best pick in this draft overall because of the talent of Johnson as well as the fit and how quickly he could contribute.
Johnson comes in with the advantage of having played football for Nick Saban, so he had a college career of experience playing inside linebacker in an NFL style 3-4 defense, so he should have a leg up on most anyone else coming into camp as a rookie because he knows what his responsibilities will be. He can focus on leaning the terminology and improving his technique but he should be comfortable with knowing where he needs to be and the feel for the position.
Jordanis there if they need him, but it would not be a huge surprise to see Johnson push him for that starting job as well as find himself on the field quite a bit. Nico Johnson is a player that can contribute in pass coverage along with Derrick Johnson. Outside of Fisher, Johnson is the pick that has the best chance of contributing right away for the Chiefs in a starting role.
With the first pick of the fifth round, the Chiefs picked Sanders Commings, the cornerback from Georgia. This is an interesting pick because the Chiefs suddenly have a great deal of depth at the position at corner, but could still contribute in several ways as a rookie while developing as a player. Commings was probably the most impressive athlete onGeorgia’s entire team which is impressive given all of the talent they have and all of the players that were also drafted. He has a tremendous combination of size and speed being over 6’1”, weighing over 200lbs, and having 4.4 speed. Commings can potentially contribute as a corner or a safety, as a nickel or dime back which is likely what he will be doing as a rookie, and then he could be a great addition to their special teams.
As it stands now, the Chiefs will have Brandon Flowers along with Sean Smith as their starting corners who play on the outside. In nickel, they have Dunta Robinson to come in, especially when it comes to playing quick receivers. Commings could play dime back or play in situations where the Chiefs would like to have a Big Nickel package where the Chiefs have three safeties on the field. Eric Berry, who should be back to 100% this season, has the ability to cover like a corner in addition to being a good safety. Commings played corner but could be a safety. In a Big Nickel package, they could potentially have both Berry and Commings play man coverage with size and strength as well as speed and have Kendrick Lewis protect them over the top as their free safety. If a team wants to use a tight end in the slot or is giving them problems in nickel, they can have Commings sub in for Robinson and make up the size and strength quickly and easily. If a quick slot receiver comes in, they can use Robinson. The Chiefs have so much versatility and so many options as far as the skill sets and talents they have in their secondary that they could use a ton of different combinations or looks to match up with their opponent or create mismatches that work in their favor. The value was good and the pick and their overall approach to their secondary is going to be worth keeping an eye on during the season.
In the sixth round, the Chiefs had a pair of picks and used the first on Cal(PA) center Eric Kush. The Chiefs have Rodney Hudson as their starting center but Ryan Lilja’s contract ran out and they opted not to bring him back. Lilja worked as a general utility guy along the line, so that is more likely what they are trying to get out ofKush. Kush can be a player that can come in and play center or contribute at a guard if necessary in addition to developing and potentially being more down the line.
Later in the sixth round, the Chiefs picked Braden Wilson, the fullback from Kansas State. Wilson is a fullback with the body of a linebacker and just an enormous presence running in front of the runner at 6’3½” 250lbs. And because he played at Kansas State with Collin Klein as their quarterback, virtually every play was a running play, so he has a ton of experience as a lead blocker. He also credits practicing against Arthur Brown, the team’s stud middle linebacker as being the reason he improved the most because he had to block him in practice. Wilson is a pretty good athlete but more importantly, a hard working, blue collar fullback that enjoys getting the big block to open a hole for a runner to score. In fact, when asked, he actually preferred getting the pancake block and letting a teammate score than getting to run it in himself; for the record, he scored twice in his career atKansasState.
This pick made a great deal of sense… until the Chiefs traded Javier Arenas, their cornerback who was caught in a ridiculous logjam at his position, for Anthony Sherman of the Arizona Cardinals, who is also a fullback. All of a sudden the Chiefs have three fullbacks that will likely come to camp in Wilson, Sherman, and then Ryan D’Imperio. Teams have trouble finding a spot for two fullbacks to make their roster; they are certainly not going to keep three. Are they going to let all of these guys battle it out and keep the best of the bunch or are they are going to keep Sherman and hope they can get Wilson to their practice squad or are the skill sets of Sherman and Wilson different enough where they can find ways for both to contribute? The answer to that remains cloudy at this point. Getting something for Arenas as opposed to cutting him makes sense and perhaps Sherman is a perfectly disposable flyer that basically needs to prove he can be better thanWilson.
With the last pick of their draft, the Chiefs went to the Ivy League and selected Princeton defensive end Mike Catapano. The value here is tremendous and the player they got for the pick definitely has talent. Catapano is a nonstop motor guy that dominated this pasty year in the Ivy League but questions remain as to how he will adjust to the competition in the NFL and he needs to do a better job using leverage. Still, Catapano brings great size and athleticism to the position and gives the Chiefs a nice option as a rotational end that can come in and rush the passer in spots as well as be a developmental player for the future. The Chiefs defensive line is pretty well set with Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, and newly signed Mike DeVito who came in to replace Glenn Dorsey, who was always miscast in the Chiefs defensive scheme. After that, the Chiefs have some young players that have been largely average to mediocre journeymen, so if Catapano can come in and impress with his motor, athleticism, and will, he could make the team and push for a spot in the rotation. If he is ultimately unable to beat out Allen Bailey or Marcus Dixon, they could try to get him to the practice squad, but it would not be a surprise if another team put in a waiver claim for him.
My Thoughts: As confusing and frustrating as their path to Eric Fisher was given what they started with, I like Eric Fisher and I like his talent. He has the talent to be a franchise tackle and be a long time contributor for the Chiefs, though it is slightly perplexing that all of their moves in free agency suggest win now and this moves suggests build for the future, which is largely what this draft became.
The ability to draft the best player available is always an advantage and the Chiefs got a lot of talent but it will be interesting to see them use it all. Travis Kelce is extremely talented and it will be interesting to see if he can take some reps from the guys ahead of him. This pick puts some pressure on Reid and the Chiefs coaching staff to fin a way to use all of these guys, because they all have utility in an offense. There are a few teams in the NFL where any of these three tight ends would walk in and start. That is great for the Chiefs but a little confusing, again, for building a team to win now.
The Knile Davis pick makes me scratch my head. I appreciate all of the talent he has, but if I am taking a running back there, I would take Jonathan Franklin and not looked back. This is one example of a guy who should have gone ahead of Davis but others are probably mentioning others. In terms of ability, reliability, and overall polish, and utility right this second,Franklin has everything Davis does except the bulk. Franklin is also a fantastic blocker who can be a great third down complement or general rotational back for a player like Charles. If this pick works out, it will look brilliant and be a great complement to Jamaal Charles. If it fails, fans of the team will point to backs picked after Charles that are successful and point to the question marks Davis brought with him into the league.
I really like Nico Johnson pick and think he could end up starting next to Derrick Johnson before the end of the year. He should at least be able to contribute as nickel and be general depth for both spots as well. The pick of Kushmakes sense for adding depth and developmental talent to the offensive line as teams can never have enough. I loved the Braden Wilson pick when it was made but the trade for Shermanclouds that and makes me curious as to their thought process. I think Wilsoncould be a nice blocker for Charles if he can win that job. And I love Mike Catapano and think that could potentially be a steal for the Chiefs. It could come back to bite me later, but I would have taken Catapano over Margus Hunt, the freakish athlete with limited football experience who would be turning 26 years this year. For me, Catapano did not have quite the freakish measurables as Hunt but he is 22 as opposed to 26, he has similar size and a similar skill set and they both have the same basic issue; improving their leverage. The motor and the effort that Capatano consistently brings and his ability to get to the quarterback even with a second and third effort won me over. Hunt went in the second round. Catapano went in the seventh. I think the value of this pick is outstanding and it would not surprise me in the least if Catapano has a more impactful career in the NFL than Hunt does.
And I love the Sanders Commings pick but so much of it has to do with what they have in the secondary and the overwhelming number of options they have now with him in the mix. On the surface, he is a high upside developmental prospect, which would be worthwhile in the fifth round as is. The incredible number of ways they can manipulate coverage, adjust to different teams who play “small ball” with spread concepts and a ton of speedy receiving options or teams that line it up and play smash mouth, power football with a bunch of tight ends is what makes it a great pick and a huge advantage.
Overall, I really like the value the Chiefs got with their picks with the exception of Knile Davis, but this is a wait and see type draft because so many of the picks were for the future rather than right now, which could be a smart move. The one glaring issue that stands out from this draft is the fact the Chiefs did not pick a quarterback. They brought in Chase Daniel in free agency which was an interesting move as a backup and potentially more down the road, but Ricky Stanzi is not doing anything for them. I am surprised Andy Reid did not like one of these quarterback enough to bring them in for a developmental prospect. Now, after the draft, the Chiefs did bring in Tyler Bray from Tennessee as an undrafted free agent. While I do not expect this to go very far, he is exactly what a team would want in a third string, developmental quarterback. He possesses a strong arm, good build, and a lot of upside, but he has horrible mechanics, problems with accuracy that result from those mechanics, and character questions. If he can focus on football and work harder than he did at Tennessee and accept coaching, which was a question in Knoxville, his upside is incredible and he could be a starting quarterback in a few years.
The Chiefs leave this draft without having obvious holes but with the lingering questions about whether the way they went about attacking those areas of need in the right way from Alex Smith on down. Outside of generally just continuing to add talent, the Chiefs are a team that does not have a particular need that needs to be addressed for next year’s draft right this second. That will change when the season kicks off an they actually play games, but as they approach camp, they have a pretty sound football team. Whether it proves to be a good one and one that can be a contender is another question.
Tags: 2013 Nfl Draft Alabama Crimson Tide Football Alex Smith Arkansas Razorbacks Football Braden Wilson Cal(PA) Central Michigan Chippewas Football Cincinnati Bearcats Football Eric Fisher Eric Kush Georgia Bulldogs Football Kansas City Chiefs Kansas State Wildcats Football Knile Davis Mike Catapano Nico Johnson Princeton Tigers Football Sanders Commings Travis Kelce