We are on the cusp of one of my favorite times of the year, the NFL draft. Now is the time for me to lay out where I think the Chiefs will go in the draft. Pioli plays his cards close to the vest, so this is based on reading tea leaves and my assessment of his track record. In round one, I suspect Pioli’s first preference is to trade down. If I were Pioli, I would be trying to leverage Cleveland and Buffalo’s quarterback needs to get one of them to trade up to grab Jimmy Clausen, assuming his is on the board at #5. I would be very much in favor of trading with Buffalo or Cleveland. It would net us either a second or third round pick. We probably can get the player we want at #7 or #9. Now the big question, just who is Pioli’s main target?
My best guess is that the choice will come down to three names, Brian Bulaga, Dan Williams and Rolando McClain. Oh, I can here the clamor already. What about Eric Berry? Now Berry is a fine prospect, however I don’t think Pioli will take him at #5. Pioli is a very conservative drafter high in round one. He is going to go for the steak, not the sizzle. Do any of you believe Pioli is prepared to make Berry the highest paid safety in the game? I don’t think he will. Bulaga would be a solid pro and a viable choice. I am concerned that he might end up playing right tackle and it’s not good positional value to take a right tackle at #5. I could almost flip a coin between Dan Williams and Rolando McClain. With Williams, you get the best NT prospect in the draft. He would make Jackson and Dorsey so much better. Plus, he would allow the ILB’s to roam more. Last year, our ILB’s had to work through too much trash to get to the ball. Dan Williams would be a major step in solving that problem. On the other hand, McClain is the best ILB prospect and would be the QB of the defense. Both are very good choices and either would make the defense better. If you put a gun to my head, Dan Williams is my prediction. If this off-season showed us anything about NT’s it showed us that that teams value them very highly. At any point in the draft, we will be reaching for a NT. It’s Williams at #5 or a reach for Cam Thomas, Torrell Troup or Linval Joseph in round two. Teams will be reaching for NT’s all draft long. I expect Cody to go in round one. NT is a gaping hole and a position with huge positional value. I know it’s a reach, but I would draft Dan Williams in round one and build from there.
Round two is where things get very, very interesting. The basic philosophy is to see what first round talent falls to round two. The Chiefs could go in many directions with this pick. If NT is still a need, this is where I would expect to see a reach for one. Baring that, you could see a value selection like WR Golden Tate. Recently on the AA Forums, I was asked about trading down out of this pick, assuming Colt McCoy was available. That is a move I could see. Early on, I had locked onto Maurkice Pouncey C/OG for our 2A pick but he may have risen too far in the draft. Pioli could very well trade that 2A pick to move into the later part of round one to grab him. He is a fine prospect and is a big enough center to handle a nose tackle one-on-one. He is also agile enough to function well in a zone blocking scheme.
With the variety of needs the Chiefs have, there are several solid ways of addressing them, regardless of the actual players selected, the Chiefs need to fill the following needs.
1] A starting caliber NT (rounds 1-2)
2] An offensive linemen, preferably a center (rounds 1-4)
3] A replacement for Corey Mays as the thumper ILB (rounds 1-3)
4] A strong safety that tackles well (rounds 2-4)
5] A quick WR to play the slot (rounds 2-5)
With that in mind, the official, Merlin’s Magic Chiefs mock draft looks like this:
Round One: Dan Williams, NT (best NT in the draft)
Round Two Pick A: Roger Saffold, OT/OG (This could be a tough spot in the draft. A trade is very possible here. The value may not be there for the positions of biggest need. Pioli could also go for a pure value pick and grab a WR, TE or OLB with this pick. Saffold could start at guard for us and perhaps develop into a better LT than Albert)
Round Two Pick B: Chad Jones, SS (Fine strong safety prospect and brings some presence to the safety corp. He is still raw in pass protection, but will help right away in run support.)
Round Three: Brandon Spikes, ILB (We finally get our thumper ILB. I tried not to take him, but he threatened to gouge my eye out.)
Round Four: Jordan Shipley, WR (Would make a good slot receiver. He is more shifty than fast. Also, he could return kicks.)
Round Five Pick A: Tony Moeaki, TE (Solid all-around TE prospect. He is a value selection at this point)
Round Five Pick B: Trevard Lindley, CB (pure cover corner with size and durability concerns. He is another value pick. We could use some depth at CB)
Round Five Pick C: Eric Olsen, C (I wish we could pick a center higher, but we grab someone Weiss is familiar with to compete for a job. His toughness and leadership gives him a shot.)
This is not a sexy draft. There is no high pick among the ‘skill’ positions. I didn’t grab a sackmaster. The casual fan will hate this draft because there isn’t someone to cheer for on TV nor will they be rushing out to grab the next Madden game to plug these rookies in. However, it would help build a solid foundation for the Chiefs.