We’ve played it pretty coy with the past couple of mock drafts, where we assume the Chiefs finish in the Bottom Five but don’t quite make the grand assumption that they bottom out and finish 32nd.
But what if they do? That’s what today’s mock is all about. Let’s let our imaginations run wild.
After the first pick, rounds two through seven are after the jump. Your feedback, including who you would draft instead, is invited in comments.
Some assumptions of the following mock:
1. Injury-riddled, imploding, with a coaching staff that has checked out and a roster that flat-out quit in the final weeks, the Chiefs go 2-14 and finish last in the AFC West and last in the NFL. Todd Haley is released, Matt Cassel has yet to be, but it is widely expected he will be. The Chiefs are selecting #1 overall.
2. QB Matt Cassel is about 50/50 to be released, after a poor 2011 campaign. It’s possible the Chiefs could keep him in case they want him to man the station for a year while the QB of the future is being groomed.
3. We tender ILB Jovan Belcher & K Ryan Succop.
4. We franchise WR Dwayne Bowe, a big deal pending a la Tamba Hali.
5. We re-sign CB Brandon Carr to a multi-year deal.
6. We re-sign FB Le’Ron McClain, WR Jerheme Urban, TE Leonard Pope, ILB Brandon Siler, OLB Andy Studebaker, CB Travis Daniels, and S Jon McGraw to one-year deals.
7. We let go of the following players: RB Thomas Jones, OT Barry Richardson, OT Jared Gaither, C Casey Wiegmann, NT Kelly Gregg, and DE Wallace Gilberry.
Let the games begin.
1. QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
It’s as simple as this, for anyone getting in on the ground floor this year: Andrew Luck will be the first overall pick in 2012. If the Seahawks get this pick, it has to be Luck. If the Colts get the first overall pick, it’s Luck. If the Browns, Bengals, or 49ers get this pick, it’s Luck. I don’t care who you have at the position for any of these teams.
So it’s only logical to assume that if the Chiefs get this pick, especially assuming Cassel plays all year and simply doesn’t get the job done… it’s Luck.
I don’t need to run down all the reasons why Luck is the best prospect to come along in ten-odd years. We’ll be having that discussion all over ESPN, Cam Newton-style, for the next nine months. But there is no better fit for Andrew Luck in any of these cities than Kansas City — with the only slight exception possibly being Indianapolis, because a couple years of tutelage under Peyton Manning is worth its weight in gold.
Luck would immediately compete with incumbent Matt Cassel and QB Ricky Stanzi for the #1 and #2 spots. His ability to beat either is pretty good, but even assuming he doesn’t, all the better for him to learn for a year. He would play with one of the best RBs in the NFL (assuming Jamaal Charles recovers and all is well), a great receiver in WR Dwayne Bowe, reliable, big targets downfield in TE Tony Moeaki and WR Johnny Baldwin, and even a couple smaller, shiftier slot guys in RB Dexter McCluster and WR Steve Breaston.
His protection would be above average for a team this bad. LT Branden Albert, after enduring my scorn all preseason, is looking really good. LG Ryan Lilja and RG Jon Asamoah will get the job done. C Rodney Hudson is more questionable to me, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. RT is a question, no doubt, but the Chiefs wisely acquired Steve Maneri through waivers, and I have them drafting a right tackle in this mock.
This would be an ideal situation with a team that is still coming together but has enough keys in place for a really special run in the near future. All it needs is a franchise guy under center to guide the ship.
2. OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
Reiff is frequently mentioned as a first round pick, but I’m not sure I see it. Reiff reminds me a lot of OT Bryan Bulaga, sure, who was a first round pick and is looking to be a great right tackle for the Packers. But like Bulaga, there isn’t a lot of left tackle potential in Reiff. He’s a technically sound powerhouse with great coaching, but he’s not a world class athlete like you need on the left edge.
If this team is drafting the best QB prospect in a decade, it’s worth noting that we’ll need to make some improvements around the offense. RB will need another bruiser to replace Thomas Jones, but those are almost always available in spades in free agency. WR will need some more depth. Another TE might be a good idea. And the RT position must find a way to be locked down.
Spending what would essentially amount to a first round pick on strong-side protection is worth the investment.
3. DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas
We must make the assumption that this team will have a near-impossible time retaining Wallace Gilberry, who will no doubt be pursued by a handful of 4-3 teams looking to make him a longterm starter, rather than the role player he serves as on the Chiefs.
That role will nonetheless need to be filled. Glenn Dorsey has looked horrible so far, though Tyson Jackson has been relatively steady. But neither is an expert at getting to the QB — which is where the 270+ pound Bequette comes in. Bequette doesn’t exactly look like a full-time starter along a two-gap 3-4 defensive line, but we do have Allen Bailey. We need a guy who’s expertise is slicing through the opponent’s offensive line and getting to the QB. Bequette has a handful of moves to get there, and has racked up a dozen sacks as a result.
4. TE George Bryan, North Carolina State
As usual, I find myself underwhelmed by the TE crop in the upcoming draft. Seems we haven’t had a good one in ages — especially when you consider the Chiefs don’t like to specialize their TEs very much; they prefer to play TEs that can block well and receive well. So I think Bryan is a hidden gem at NC State. He’s got great size (265 lbs) and uses it to his full advantage as a blocker. But he is also a really solid receiver, and I think he makes a lot of sense for the Chiefs.
The best offenses are utilizing multiple TE packages, but after Moeaki, the Chiefs don’t seem to have another guy that can step up.
5. NT John Jenkins, Georgia
I’ve drafted this underclassman a couple times already, and in wildly different spots each time. I don’t know if he’s coming out (I’d say it’s likely with the weak NT crop this year), and my opinion of him differs every time I watch Georgia play.
But I know this: he is a 350 pound monster playing in a 3-4 defense in the SEC. Scott Pioli must be paying attention, and depth behind Jerrell Powe will be needed in 2012.
6. SS Winston Guy Jr., Kentucky
As it is still very early in the season, my favorites will be drafted over and over again. I think Guy, should he last this long, is a must-get for a Chiefs secondary that is dying for depth at the safety position. We can live with a combination of Kendrick Lewis and Jon McGraw for one more year at free safey, but we must add quality depth behind Eric Berry.
Fortunately for this hypothetical, Guy has fallen to the 6th round. Guy is a 100-tackles-a-year guy for Kentucky, and has prototypical size for the strong safety position. Guy will finally allow for the Chiefs to rest Berry for a couple drives a game.
7. OG/C Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
Garner is quickly becoming a late-round favorite, and may start sneaking up draft boards. He has played exclusively center at OK State, but that offense has generated sick amounts of yardage on the ground and in the air. His size is picture-perfect for the Chiefs’ zone-blocking scheme, and the Chiefs will desperately need depth for their interior offensive line.
The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs
QB: Cassel, Stanzi, Luck
RB: Charles, McClain, McCluster
WR: Bowe, Baldwin, Breaston, Urban, McCluster, Copper
TE: Moeaki, Bryan, Pope
LT: Albert, Maneri
LG: Lilja, Harris
C: Hudson, Garner
RG: Asamoah, Harris
RT: Reiff, Maneri
DE: Dorsey, Bailey
NT: Powe, Jenkins
DE: Jackson, Bequette
OLB: Hali, Sheffield
ILB: Belcher, Siler
ILB: Johnson, Williams
OLB: Houston, Studebaker
CB: Flowers, Carr, Arenas, Brown, Daniels
S: Berry, Flowers, Guy, McGraw
KR: Arenas, McCluster
PR: Arenas, McCluster