Well, the Chiefs completed their Christmas shopping, I mean NFL draft. The reviews were generally good, topped off by an A+ from one of the best in the business, Rick Gosselin. I generally liked the players selected, but there were some problems. Selecting Eric Berry at #5 surprised me. He certainly has the talent, but Pioli just made a player who never played a down the highest paid player at his position. That, Addicts is a very ballsy move. Berry is a great talent, but that is a huge contract to live up to. He is ideally suited to the current state of the NFL. The safety position is evolving. The strong in run support strong safety is trending down. With the proliferation of three and four wide receiver sets, the safety position is taking on more of a modified cornerback role. That is, better man cover skills are being asked of safeties. Berry, like another UT player (Dale Carter), was a safety in college with the cover skills of a corner. While Dale Carter was moved to cornerback, Berry will stay at safety giving the Chiefs flexibility to match up against a three wide receiver set without bringing in a nickel corner. That is a huge advantage that will serve us well. In addition to his return skills, Javier Arenas was drafted to match up against slot receivers, not to replace Brandon Carr on the outside. This is another pick that reflects an adjustment to the current trends in the NFL.
Keeping with our theme of the changing NFL, Dexter McCluster also fits that theme. He is a dymanic, shifty player. Expect him to line up as a slot WR, running back and even in the wildcat formation. Unlike many wildcats, he can pass the football. If you are looking for fun, he will be a treat to watch. McCluster and Charles on the field at the same time will be exciting to watch. This brings me to my favorite pick of the draft, Jon Asamoah.
Year after year I rip the Chiefs for not making enough of an investment in the offensive line. We finally grab a very good prospect. Asamoah is an excellent guard prospect. He is versatile and has a nasty streak. I love offensive lineman with a nasty streak. He has the potential to start for the Chiefs this year. It would not be a shock to see him start the season at right guard, with Lilja at left guard and Waters at center. Addicts, he is that good of a prospect.
Trading up for Tony Moeaki was a bit of a surprise. He is an excellent prospect, but has a Brad Cottam injury history. I did mock Moeaki to the Chiefs, but in round five. I really like him, but he is a boom or bust prospect. If he is healthy, we got a steal. If not, he is out of the league in two to three years. Moeaki is a rare tight end prospect these days. He has good all-around skills. Most TE prospects these days are more receivers than blockers.
Kendrick Lewis will compete to back up at safety and Cameron Sheffield (mocked to the Chiefs in my first mock) has some pass rushing skills to back up Hali. All in all, it is a good draft. Each player adds value to the Chiefs. There are four players who could be on the field for over 50% of the regular snaps for offense or defense. However, there is a problem, evidenced by the graphic below.
That doughnut hole is our run defense. We did little to help in that area. With the 31st ranked run defense, that is not a good move. At least, somewhere we needed to get a nose tackle. It’s why I give the draft a grade of ‘B’. The KC press core asked Pioli and Haley about the run defense. The short answer was essentially that the current players will have to make do. That is not a winning formula. It is hard to see us as a playoff team with Edwards, Mays and Williams as our NT and ILB’s respectively.
The vast majority of UDFA’s are merely training camp fodder, but I have my eye on ILB Michael Johnson (from North Alabama) and WR Rich Gunnell (from Boston College). They have a shot at making the team.
Final note: during the draft wrap-up press conference, Haley has this head scratching exchange.
Q: You talk about your list of needs going into the draft. Was finding at least one return guy on that list?
HALEY: “It was a must in my opinion. There are musts and there are needs and that was a must.”
So, return guy was a must, nose tackle, not a must. Ladies and gentlemen, your brain trust in action.