Kansas City Chiefs Draft Needs
Posted by Jimmy Boyd
The Kansas City Chiefs suffered one of the most painful playoff losses in recent memory this past season. Kansas City managed to blow a 28-point second half lead in a 44-45 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round. The defeat prevented the Chiefs from capturing their first postseason win since 1993.
As disappointing a finish as it may have been, there was plenty of positive to take from Kansas City’s first season under head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey. The Chiefs went an impressive 11-5 tied, for the 3rd best record in the AFC, just one season after going a league-worst 2-14 (tied with Jacksonville).
The big question is will Kansas City be able to build off last year’s strong showing in 2014. In order to do that, the Chiefs will have to make due without several key players. During the offseason Kansas City has lost left tackle Branden Albert, guard Geoff Schwartz, receiver/return specialist Dexter McCluster, defense end Tyson Jackson, guard Jon Asamoah, safety Kendrick Lewis, linebacker Akeem Jordan, corner Dunta Robinson and safety Quintin Demps.
That’s a pretty strong list of players that have departed. Unfortunately for the Chiefs they weren’t able to make a big splash in free agency. The only notable additions were defensive tackle Vance Walker, linebacker Joe Mays, guard Jeff Linkenbach and corner Chris Owens.
If Kansas City is going to contend in the AFC West with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, they are going to need to find some players in the upcoming draft that can help out right away. The Chiefs will select 23rd in the first round, but wont have a second round pick for a second straight year (traded away last year to get Alex Smith). Kansas City also doesn’t have a selection in the 7th, but will pick twice in the 6th round. Here’s a quick look at the five positions I feel the Chiefs need to target when they are on the clock this May.
The Chiefs had hoped they addressed this need when drafted Jonathan Baldwin in the first round back in 2011, but Baldwin wore out his welcome and was swapped with former 49ers first round pick A.J. Jenkins. Kansas City has high hopes for Jenkings playing a bigger role in 2014, but they can’t afford to wait and see. The only real weapon on the outside is Dwayne Bowe, who would greatly benefit from defenses not focusing all their attention on him. This is a deep class at the receiver position and the Chiefs figure to have plenty of options available in the first round.
Kansas City has a couple of really good players in the secondary in corner Brandon Flowers and safety Eric Berry, but opposing quarterbacks had their way with the rest of the defensive backs. They liked what they saw out safety Husain Abdullah late, but he’s not a sure thing. 2013 5th round pick Sanders Commings will likely compete with Abdullah for the starting spot opposite of Berry and could also serve as the No. 3 corner behind Flowers and Sean Smith. Regardless, they need to make sure this unit is a strength in 2014 and to do that they need to bring in some help via the draft.
The Chiefs lost three key pieces on the offensive line in Albert, Schwartz and Asamoah. Eric Fisher, who was taken No. 1 overall last year, will move over to the left side alongside talented left guard Jeff Allen. Kansas City also likes what they have in center Rodney Hudson, but they have to be concerned with the right side of this unit. They could probably make due with Donald Stephenson at right tackle and Linkenbach at right guard, but there’s not much in terms of depth behind the starters.
While I have seen some experts calling for the Chiefs to go after an inside linebacker, I think Kansas City will be just fine with either Nico Johnson or Mays starting alongside Pro Bowler Derrick Johnson. The big need is for an additional pass rusher on the outside. The Chiefs are set with starters Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, but as we saw when both went down with injuries last year, there’s not much behind them.
If it wasn’t for the uncertainty surrounding Travis Kelce, who the Chiefs took in the 3rd round of last year’s draft, this would be a much bigger need. Kelce was expected to play a huge role, but instead a knee injury prevented him from playing a single snap. It’s no secret that Smith loves to throw to his tight end. While Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath did a serviceable job, neither is the elite weapon in the passing game that can take the offense to the next level. Even if the Chiefs are convinced Kelce will be 100% in 2014, I believe it would be in their best interest to take advantage of a deep tight end class and add in some insurance to make sure this position is a strength next year.
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