The Chiefs late season push into the playoffs was impressive; they now aim to take the next step in progressing further into the post-season. They began that work with a hit and miss free agency period that saw them re-sign a number of veteran defenders such as Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Jaye Howard while bringing in offensive line help in Mitchell Schwartz, but lost others like cornerback Sean Smith. The secondary therefore was an area of need, as was the trenches on both sides of the ball. While Alex Smith has done a solid job, reports of the Chiefs potentially being among those very interested in using their top pick on quarterback Paxton Lynch was popular pre-draft.
Day 1 – No pick, traded out of first round with the 49ers
Kansas City made the decision to trade out of the first round and pick up some extra picks in this deep draft; not a bad idea at all. The decision to move down most likely came as a result of their division rivals jumping ahead of them to take QB Paxton Lynch, who the Chiefs reportedly wanted. Once that occurred, the backup plan was initiated. The increased ammunition is one thing, with a lot of value in the middle rounds to be had, and the player they eventually landed early in round 2 was of a late first round grade, making it a good move. The only downside is the possibility that not only did they lose out on who they most wanted, but if Lynch is successful they’ll have to see him do so for their AFC West opponents the Broncos and have to face him twice a year for some time to come.
Day 2 – Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State (Rd 2, #37). KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame (Rd 3, #74)
The moves around the draft order continued on day two, again choosing to add more day 3 choices by trading out of their second round pick into the third with the Buccaneers. Having lost their original third rounder due to the Maclin tampering punishment, the two trades meant they still had nine total selections over the weekend. Landing Jones at the top of round 2 for their first choice of 2016 was excellent value. Jones has as much talent and upside as any of those in this strong defensive line class who went on Thursday night, the issue is that his motor runs hot and cold, leaving questions on whether he will ever reach that potential and be more consistent. He hits a need with Mike DeVito leaving, and with Dontari Poe potentially hitting free agency this time next year. Reid loves adding linemen on both sides of the ball so it was no surprise at all that his first pick is in the trenches. Another need was hit with their third round choice. Most of the corners with the potential to start immediately were off the board, but they found one in Russell, who at one time early in his career looked like a top 50 type of prospect but whose career was derailed a bit due to academic suspension and injury. He has a chance to play early, and some see the versatility to fill in at safety if need be as well.
Day 3 – Parker Ehinger, OG/OT, Cincinnati (Rd 4, #105). Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota (Rd 4, #106). Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida (Rd 4, #126). Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford (Rd 5, #162). Tyreek Hill, WR/KR, West Alabama (Rd 5, #165). DJ White, CB, Georgia Tech (Rd 6, #178). Dadi Nicolas, EDGE, Virginia Tech (Rd 6, #203)
The Chiefs arguably did their best work this year during the first couple days. However, though they did a great job accumulating extra picks, the way they executed some of though selections were a bit questionable on paper. Kevin Hogan is never going to be a legitimate long-term starter in the league, but was a very popular prospect as a backup. It was a little surprising, but might suggest that they aren’t sold on either Aaron Murray or Tyler Bray behind Alex Smith. Adding two more very talented cornerbacks in Eric Murray and DJ White were the best looking choices on day 3, who each carried earlier round grades than where they were taken. Murray will step in immediately as a strong special teams player and has a reliable game that could earn him defensive snaps early too. White could prove a bargain. Measurables are all that hold him back in terms of lacking both size and speed, but he’s a talented playmaker with an eye for the ball. It felt quite early for Ehinger to be taken in the 4th, but he has length and a nasty, physical play style, so there’s upside. He played far better at guard earlier in his career than at tackle as a senior. The Chiefs decision-makers will know more than us and have done their due-diligence, but it’s hard not to question the pair of choices in Robinson, who was suspended 4 times while at Florida, and Hill, who, even worse, was guilty of punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend in 2014. Both are extremely gifted athletes. Draw your own conclusions on whether that ought to trump the character questions, but it keeps on happening in the NFL.
While the early work looked great in getting value where they did take players, and getting extra picks to increase the chances of hitting, the use of some of those late round selections is questionable. The three corners they ended up with to now join Peters, Gaines and Nelson gives them excellent depth at that position now; there’s a lot to like about the potential of each addition to the secondary. The uncomfortable character choices could backfire though if they don’t work out.