Jan 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson (3) carries the ball during the BCS National Championship game agains the LSU Tigers at the Louisiana Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

My Official Endorsement For The #11 Overall Pick


It’s not the year to envy the decision this front office has to make at the precarious position of #11 overall. There doesn’t seem to be a quarterback on the board that is truly worth that investment, nor is there a nose tackle. And there is some debate as to whether running backs, right tackles, or guards should ever warrant that degree of investment.

As a result, if these are the options the Chiefs have to work with, the absolutely ideal option is to trade down from the 11th overall pick. If there is some way the Chiefs can trade down at all, they make the investment required of them less significant, while acquiring more talent in later rounds as a result.  I am normally not a big fan of trading down (I like taking the very best talent available), when your best options are running backs and right tackles, even a modest move down to something like the 16th pick makes our options much more appealing.

But assuming the Chiefs cannot trade down, and must select at this position, I believe the Kansas City Chiefs should draft RB Trent Richardson of Alabama with the 11th overall pick.

The question of adding talent to your team via the draft should be focused around one question: how much better is your team with them than they were before?  With all the names floating around, like Tannehill, Poe, DeCastro, or Reiff, there is no player that dramatically changes what this team can do quite like Trent Richardson.

Let’s break this down. Like I said a moment ago, the 11th pick is a very hard one to project for the Chiefs this year, because while the Chiefs have the 11th pick, there are really only six sure things to be off the board before their selection:

  • QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
  • QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
  • WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
  • OT Matt Kalil, USC
  • CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
  • DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

After that, we simply don’t know how the other picks will fall.

Here is a list of the people that could ostensibly be available by the time the Chiefs are on the clock at #11:

  • QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
  • RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
  • OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
  • OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
  • OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
  • OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia
  • OG David DeCastro, Stanford
  • NT Dontari Poe, Memphis
  • DE Quentin Coples, North Carolina
  • ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  • OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
  • OLB Nick Perry, USC
  • CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

There are some potential All Pros on this position, some players that would really help the Chiefs, and some players that don’t fit at all.

To get to the players I’d prefer the Chiefs select, let’s exercise the process of elimination.

Players That Don’t Fit

  • OT Mike Adams, Ohio State

I always had a sneaking suspicion all year that Adams could turn out to be a great right tackle in the NFL. He’s got the size, the domination in the run game, the occasionally plodding feet. He has a whiff of left tackle potential, which I thought would be useful in case we needed someone to fill in for a holding-out Branden Albert in 2013.

The problem with Adams is that there has been a heavy cloud of hearsay arising from the fact that he has serious character issues. He served not one, but two suspensions during his time at Ohio State, and now we’ve seen a serious lack of discipline during this draft season, which is just Vontaze Burfict levels of clinical stupidity. He only put up 19 reps at the Combine, which is evidence that he’s not putting in the effort, at only the most important time in his career to do so.

  • DE Quentin Coples, North Carolina

Coples is a large, powerful passrusher who is not a fit in the 3-4. He is a 4-3 end only. Not to mention the fact that he’s overrated.

  • CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

Kirkpatrick is incredibly talented, and despite some of his character concerns, would have been a perfectly fine fit for Crennel’s defense. But the signing of Routt, a similar type of corner, make going for a corner in the first round impractical.

Players That Fit, But Aren’t Worth The #11 Overall

  • QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

This will no doubt be the hardest sell to many of my fellow QB enthusiasts, who will be feeling particularly dejected once the Chiefs inevitably lose out on Peyton Manning in free agency and make miniscule QB depth chart moves in free agency like acquiring Chad Henne.

And I understand the exasperation. I’ve long believed you build your team around the QB position, and that QBs therefore require first round picks in any administration’s attempt to build a Super Bowl winner. I advocated Matt Ryan in 2008, Mark Sanchez in 2009, and Jimmy Clausen in 2010. But I didn’t advocate a QB with our first round pick in 2011 for the same reason I won’t be advocating one this year: the value doesn’t match the player.

Tannehill is a gifted athlete, and he does have some tools to piece together a franchise QB if he undergoes dramatic enough reconstruction. But his brief collegiate career (only 20 starts) and his inability to play up to the levels of his elite opponents is damning. All things being equal, Tannehill is a second round quality quarterback who is going to “Christian Ponder” up the big board due to some team’s desperation at the QB position.

With a great QB class looming in 2013, there is no reason for us to be that team.

  • OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford

Martin is a talented finesse tackle, but simply doesn’t bring the thunder or play with the aggressiveness you want to see from your franchise right tackle. Martin is much more natural playing on the left side, and should the Chiefs at this juncture decide that they aren’t going to want to pay Branden Albert “franchise LT” money, bringing in Martin to eventually replace him is logical.

I think Martin can thrive on the left side. He is out of place on the right. As I am of the opinion that the Chiefs should pay Albert rather than let him walk, I do not advocate taking Martin.

  • NT Dontari Poe, Memphis

After watching Poe on tape and catching his Combine performance, I think that he could have a dynamic NFL career if he lands in the right system with the right coach. And he will need both in order to be successful. It’s pretty clear he lacks discipline, and has been getting by at this point on his size and amazing measurables.

I don’t think he’s a two-gapper. He showed absolutely zero flashes to drop anchor in his time in Memphis. His technique is somewhere in the vicinity of nonexistant, and while that not mean much in a one-gap 3-4 defense where the objective is to penetrate and beat offensive lineman, a ton of technique is required to absorb blockers and eat up space like two-gap 3-4 defenses demand.

  • ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

I actually think Kuechly might be worth the #11 overall. I think he has the potential to be an impact interior linebacker in this league.

The problem is that he’s not a natural thumper. He’s much more of an athletic, all-purpose linebacker in the vein of Derrick Johnson. And, well, we already have a Derrick Johnson. You need the other ILB spot in Crennel’s 3-4 defense to be a line of scrimmage destroyer like Jovan Belcher.

  • OLB/ILB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

Speaking of a thumper: Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw is a large-sized OLB with experience in Alabama’s 3-4, where he was utilized all over the field as a down-lineman, an outside rusher, and an interior line-pounder. Upshaw’s versatility could be a big boost for Kansas City’s defense, particularly if you believe Jovan Belcher is a weak link. A starting lineup of Hali-Upshaw-Johnson-Houston could be one of the best in the league.

The problem is that Upshaw doesn’t look like a linebacker. He’s not terribly slow, but his footwork and his athleticism look like that of an athletic down-lineman in a 4-3, and aren’t on par with what you want from a linebacker. He just doesn’t look the part unless he finds a way to drop 15-20 lbs and retain his power.

Players Worth Selecting

  • RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

WHY SELECT HIM: Richardson is a game-changing RB prospect on par with Adrian Peterson. He can be used in all three downs, and does it all: he can pound the line of scrimmage, he can get the tough yardage, he can glide in space and eat up yardage, he can pick up the blitz, he can receive out of the backfield. And combined with the similar all-around package of Jamaal Charles, who is smaller but also capable of running between the tackles, the Chiefs would have the best run game in the NFL by far. The pick would transform Matt Cassel into his Pro Bowl self from 2010, as Cassel only plays up to his maximum ability when the Chiefs can run the ball. Pairing Richardson with Charles ensures that transformation.

WHY NOT TO: Running back is a brutal position with a short shelf-life. I personally believe that Richardson could buck this trend as he is a legendary worker in the weight room. You could get a Maurice Jones-Drew career out of him very easily, I believe.

  • OT Riley Reiff, Iowa

WHY SELECT HIM: Reiff offers the most tackle flexibility of any of the Tier A tackles; Kalil and Martin can’t play the right side, and Adams can’t play the left. Reiff has the athleticism and technique to play the left side adequately, but he has the strength, power, and attitude to be a picture-perfect right tackle in the zone blocking system. This pick is the best of all worlds to solve the Chiefs’ desperate tackle situation — it gives them a ten-year, rock-solid starter at the right tackle position, while picking up insurance in case Branden Albert holds out in 2013. Reiff is not ideal for the left side, but he can play anywhere on the line, and is one of the surest picks in the draft this side of Andrew Luck.

WHY NOT TO: Unlike a couple of the other options at this point, Richardson and DeCastro, Reiff is not an all-time prospect at his position. He’s just a very good prospect. So this, of course, begs the question: do you take a very good player at a more important position (OT), or do you take a phenomenal player at a less important position (OG, RB)?

  • OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia

WHY SELECT HIM: If Reiff is the guy with the highest floor, Glenn is the guy with the highest ceiling. Glenn is someone you select if you believe Branden Albert is your franchise right tackle, and now you’re just looking for someone to be able to similarly dominate at right tackle. Glenn’s potential is limitless — he’s got some of the longest arms of the draft class, still benched as much as anybody despite those arms, and runs a 5.0 40 yard dash. His footwork in pass protection can be improved, and his run-blocking has the potential to be peerless at right tackle.

WHY NOT TO: There is a bust factor that’s much higher than everybody else on this list. Glenn was never an outstanding pass protector at Georgia, though he was always a devastating run blocker. You typically don’t like to have to spend tons of time reconstructing the habits of your #11 overall draft pick.

  • OG David DeCastro, Stanford

WHY SELECT HIM: Grouped with Albert, Hudson, and Asamoah, you would have an offensive line grouping (along with a RT of your choosing) that could last for close to a decade. But unlike those three players, DeCastro is not merely another piece to the puzzle; he could be the cornerstone of your line. A methodical, brutal blocker, DeCastro can neutralize nose tackles and chase down linebackers at the second level. He was Stanford’s franchise player in the run-game, and he almost single-handedly plowed the Trees’ run game. The Chiefs need the run game to be successful for Cassel to play well, and DeCastro offers you an elite, All Pro talent at the position that can keep Matt Cassel clean from Day One.

WHY NOT TO: You can find an extremely talented guards all over the NFL Draft, and free agency is loaded with them. You should not have to spend the #11 pick on a guard. DeCastro is a “franchise” guard, but what is that really worth when merely “really good” guards can also get the job done?

  • OLB Nick Perry, USC

WHY SELECT HIM: Because the Giants proved a passrush is truly the 1B need of a championship football team (quarterback being 1A, of course). Right now the Chiefs have a good team in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, but (a.) Houston is not a sure thing, and has only really had one very good month as a rookie, and (b.) if either of these players go down with injury, the Chiefs find themselves mired in the same problem they’ve had for ages. Perry is a super-athlete, and has more drop-back ability than Houston. He is raw, but his elite athleticism make him the perfect versatile weapon for Crennel to tool with in any package he can possibly dream up.

WHY NOT TO: The Chiefs do, nonetheless, sport two very solid passrushers, while sporting desperate holes at a few other positions that the players above would address. Perry is a smart pick if you’re not confident in Houston’s development, but I am personally quite confident in Justin Houston.

But Richardson at 11 isn’t ideal, right?

Right. As plenty of the names above indicate, the Chiefs can trade down as many as ten spots and still be in golden position to land much of the above talent. Trading down is the best possible solution.

If trading down is not possible, and Richardson is available, you take him and you sleep like a baby. After him, I’d probably take Reiff, and then DeCastro. But I’d be completely happy with either Glenn or Perry.

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