“Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged.”
The Kansas City Chiefs won a coin toss and now hold the 11th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Now that the first wave of free agency is over, the draft debate has begun. For the most part, it seems that the fans and experts alike, expect the Chiefs to choose between three players:
DT Dontari Poe
G David DeCastro
ILB Luke Kuechly
Wild Cards: Ryan Tannehill, Trent Richardson
Poe and DeCastro are the players that make a lot of sense. You can never have enough depth along the offensive line and DeCastro is widely believed to be one of the best players in the entire draft. He’s likely a safe pick with unlimited potential.
Poe fills a need on paper, but will he fill it on the field? He is athletic for sure but some claim the college tape shows an inconsistent player with a less than stellar motor. His big day at the NFL Scouting Combine moved him into the top ten in mock drafts but he seems to have big bust potential.
As for Kuechly, he would upgrade the ILB position but it is debatable how big of a need that is. For the record, I don’t buy the argument that Kuechly is “too much like DJ” and “isn’t the thumper you need playing that position.” Give me a break. Would you rather have two DJ’s at OLB or a DJ and a Jovan Belcher? Do you think DJ is poor at playing the run? I scoff at you. I’ll take two DJ’s any day and I’m willing to bet Romeo Crennel would stay the same. Besides, DJ isn’t going to be around forever. This a perfect opportunity to get his replacement.
But I digress. While I like Kuechly, I’m not sure of how big of an impact he’d make in 2012 for the Chiefs. KC already has Brandon Siler and Jovan Belcher, and it might be sufficient to just let those two go at it in a camp competition. Both are solid players.
As for Tannehill and Richardson, it is hard to see the Chiefs going for either. History shows that even the most hyped running backs are prone to injury-riddled, short careers. Good running backs are fairly common and can be had in the later rounds. Tannehill comes with big question marks and with Cleveland and Miami still without solid QB options, he very well could be gone well before the Chiefs pick.
The pick that makes the most sense, if the Chiefs are going to pick, is DeCastro. In some ways, however, the Chiefs are a little crowded on the interior of their line. They’ve got Jon Asamoah, Rodney Hudson and Ryan Lilja. A lot of folks think Lilja needs to be replaced but I disagree. His struggles last year, in my opinion, came because of the team’s offensive turbulence. Lilja was one of the league’s highest rated guards in 2010 when Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Matt Cassel played the entire season. I believe he will return to form in 2012.
Taking a player of DeCastro’s ability 11th overall means he is likely to start right away. But if the Chiefs are going to start Hudson at center, do they really want to bench Lilja? That move would make the team’s interior line fairly young. Asamoah would be in his third year but really only his second as a starter. Hudson would be a rookie center playing next to a rookie guard.
If DeCastro is as good as everyone thinks he is, the interior line’s youth may not be a problem. Taking DeCastro would also solidify the team’s interior for years. There are pros and cons.
Still, I think if given the opportunity, the Chiefs should follow Lennon and McCartney’s advice and “get back.” Should DeCastro still be available when their number is called, there may be a team willing to trade up. The same goes for Richardson and Tannehill if they are still on the board. The Chiefs hold the first pick outside the top ten so teams may see that as a chance to get a good player for a reduced contract. The fact that there is a rookie wage scale in place now makes it even more likely that teams will be bold in making trades.
I think the Chiefs should trade back. In fact, if they can trade back multiple times, that would be ideal. If they can snag themselves extra picks in the 2013 draft, that would be even better.
The Chiefs have a good roster but they have a giant, gaping hole at QB. We all know this. By trading back one or two times in the first round in 2012, the Chiefs can position themselves with great flexibility to move around in the 2013 Draft. That could mean moving up a few slots to nab their QB or another player they feel is a major piece to their puzzle.
There are also a couple of QB’s that folks think will go in the early- to mid-second rounds. Guys like Kirk Cousins and Brandon Weeden might be on KC’s radar. By trading back into the late first round, the Chiefs can feel comfortable reaching for one of those QB’s to make sure they get their guy because they’ll have picked up extra picks in the trade back. If the Chiefs can get to the late 20’s, I think they’d seriously have to consider swiping Weeden. They might take him 10-15 picks early, but if they believe he’s a potential franchise QB, then it would be well worth it. Plus, then the team would have a potential extra 2nd or 3rd rounder in the bank.
In my opinion, the Chiefs are way too talented to be drafting so high and if they are as good as I think they are, they may not be drafting this high again for a while. There is potentially a lot more value for them, as they look to build depth, by moving back and stockpiling picks. Especially if those picks turn out to be a franchise QB, which in the next two to three years, will likely be the missing piece of the puzzle for this team.
The Chiefs don’t belong up in that #11 slot with the likes of the Dolphins and Seahawks. 2011 was a turbulent year but I think this squad of young, talented players are going to emerge stronger for it.
It’s time for the Chiefs to get back to where they once belonged.