The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a 2-14 season. They have a new head coach, a new general manager, and the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Given these circumstances, it’s understandable that KC fans have already put the 2012 season in the rear view mirror and are 100% focused on the offseason, especially the NFL draft. In fact, I would wager that most of you reading this are more interested in the upcoming Senior Bowl than you are in the Super Bowl match up of San Francisco and Baltimore.
The two biggest questions that most Chiefs fans have for Andy Reid and John Dorsey are intertwined. What will they do with the #1 overall pick and who are they going to get to play quarterback? There is a large number of KC fans (like myself) that are convinced that they should answer both questions at once by drafting Geno Smith #1 overall. However, others are not convinced that Smith is a player that warrants that high of selection. The real question then becomes what Reid and Dorsey think of Smith and the other players at the top of the 2013 draft. Both men have gone on record as saying they believe in taking the best player available and not reaching for a player because of positional need.
So these two key questions will ultimately be answered by how Reid and Dorsey construct their “Big Board” for the draft. No one knows what this big board will look like, but I thought for this week’s post I would try to give you a look at what others are saying in terms of how this draft class is lining up. I looked at 10 different big boards and then averaged them out to try and come up with a pre-Senior Bowl, pre-combine, master big board for this April’s draft. The rankings I used are from ESPN’s Scout’s Inc, CBS’s Rob Rang, our own Merlin’s DraftTek, WalterFootball, NFL Draft Countdown, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, SB Nation, NEPatriotsDraft.com, and fftoolbox.com.
It’s not a perfect system since these lists ranged in length from 25-100 so not every prospect was rated on each list, but it still gives us a general consensus to see where prospects rank currently. Remember, this is not the order players are predicted to be drafted in, but a list of who these sources think are the best players regardless of position and team draft needs. Here are the top 49 players that received first round rankings from at least one of the sources listed above.
1. Luke Joeckel – OT – Texas A&M
2. Star Lotulelei – DT – Utah
3. Bjoern Werner – DE/OLB – Florida St.
4. Jarvis Jones – OLB – Georgia
5. Damontre Moore – DE/OLB – Texas A&M
6. Chance Warmack – G – Alabama
7. Dee Milliner – CB – Alabama
8. Manti Te’o – ILB – Notre Dame
9. Barkevious Mingo – DE/OLB – LSU
10. Geno Smith – QB – West Virginia
11. Johnathan Hankins – DT – Ohio St.
12. Dion Jordan – DE/OLB – Oregon
13. Sheldon Richardson – DT – Missouri
14. Keenan Allen – WR – California
15. Jonathan Cooper – G – North Carolina
16. Ezekiel Ansah – DE – BYU
17. Eric Fisher – OT – Central Michigan
18. Johnathan Banks – CB – Mississippi St.
19. Alec Ogletree – ILB – Georgia
20. Sam Montgomery – DE/OLB – LSU
21. Tyler Eifert – TE – Notre Dame
22. Kenny Vaccaro – S – Texas
23. Johnathan Jenkins – DT – Georgia
24. Jesse Williams – DT – Alabama
25. Matt Barkley – QB – USC
26. Barrett Jones – OL – Alabama
27. Tavon Austin – WR – West Virginia
28. Shariff Floyd – DT – Florida
29. Tyler Wilson – QB – Arkansas
30. Alex Okafor – DE/OLB – Texas
31. Zach Ertz – TE – Stanford
32. Cordarrelle Patterson – WR – Tennessee
33. Giovani Bernard – RB – North Carolina
34. Terrance Williams – WR – Baylor
35. DeAndre Hopkins – WR – Clemson
36. Xavier Rhodes – CB – Florida St.
37. DJ Fluker – OT – Alabama
38. Sylvester Williams – DT – North Carolina
39. Matt Elam – S – Florida
40. Eric Reid – S – LSU
41. Justin Hunter – WR – Tennessee
42. Robert Woods – WR – USC
43. Kawann Short – DT – Purdue
44. Arthur Brown – LB – Kansas St.
45. Kevin Minter – ILB – LSU
46. Lane Johnson – OT – Oklahoma
47. David Amerson – CB – NC State
48. Tony Jefferson – S – Oklahoma
49. Corey Lemonier – DE/OLB – Auburn
I can pretty much promise you that by the time the Senior Bowl, combine, and private work outs are over the Chiefs own big board will look quite a bit different from this list. However, the elite prospects at the very top of the first round don’t usually come out of nowhere. So I think it’s probably safe to say that the first overall pick is someone in the top 10 of this list. So let’s look at those 10 guys through “Chiefs colored glasses”.
Of the top 10 prospects on this list four of them are outside pass-rushers that would play OLB in KC’s 3-4 defense. The Chiefs currently have both of those spots filled with above average NFL starters in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. I know they say they’ll take the best player available, but unless Reid and Dorsey plan on trading Tamba I think one of these pass rushers would have to grade out SO MUCH better than the other top prospects in order for a team with so many areas to upgrade to take a player at one of the few places they are currently set. So for the time being I am taking Werner, Jones, Moore, and Mingo off the table for KC’s #1 pick.
Next, despite Warmack being hailed as the best guard prospect to enter the draft in ages, I can’t see any team taking a guard first overall. Everyone raved about David DeCastro last season too and he was drafted 24th. Is Warmack SO much better than DeCastro that he should go 23 spots higher? I don’t think so. So I am taking Warmack off the list of possible picks for KC at first overall as well.
Next, between his poor play against an elite offensive line in the national championship game and the crazy dead girlfriend hoax drama I can’t see Kansas City even entertaining the idea of taking Te’o first overall now. Not to mention the fact that most believe that ILB isn’t a position that makes enough impact to justify drafting one that high, even if there wasn’t other questions about him.
So that leaves us with only 4 of the top 10 prospects left for consideration. Let’s address these four one at a time. I’ll start with Alabama CB Dee Milliner.
Milliner is the consensus best CB in this draft. He’s got good size at 6’1″ and 199 lbs. He’s a very physical corner and is an excellent tackler. His coverage skills are very good as well. That having been said, Milliner isn’t a ball hawk as he’s only totaled 2 INTs in each of his past 2 seasons at Alabama. His speed is good enough for the NFL, but he’s not a burner. I think Milliner is pretty much a lock to go in the top 10 picks, but his lack of big play ability would make him a hard sell for #1 overall. Taking Milliner there would be similar to taking Geno Smith #1 overall in that he’s the best player at his position, but may not rate out as high as guys like Joeckel and Lotulelei who most feel warrant the first overall pick. If Reid and Dorsey’s “best player available” mantra literally translates to the highest rated player on their board, then I don’t think it will be Milliner and if they are going to reach a few spots based on positional need it makes more sense to do it for a QB where the benefits of the pick working out are greater. I do think Milliner would make a lot of sense if KC was able to trade back a few spots but was still drafting in the top 10.
So, to sum up my thoughts on Milliner, great player, fits a need, probably won’t be the #1 overall pick, but is a candidate for KC if they trade back a few spots.
Next up, my man Geno Smith. I’m not objective here. I made a 14 minute long video that explained why he should be the #1 pick. There’s a link at the bottom of this post if you haven’t seen it and would like to check it out. Here’s my thought on if the Chiefs will actually take him. If they have Geno rated as a top 10 player as he is in these composite rankings, I think they take him. I know they are saying “best player available”, but if you have no QB and the best QB in the draft is one of the 10 best players available, you take him. QB is just that important, and I think Reid and Dorsey know that. If Geno is more like the 15-25th player on their board, I think they’ll pass, take one of these other players, and take a QB in the 2nd round. I honestly believe Geno will be the pick. I think he is the QB that impresses the most at the combine and workouts and Reid starts off in KC like he did with McNabb in Philly.
However, if I’m wrong then I think the pick is most likely one of the top two guys on these consensus rankings, Luke Joeckel or Star Lotulelei. Let’s start with Joeckel.
Luke Joekel is being hyped as the best LT prospect since Jake Long (who is also the last OT to go first overall). He is currently the consensus “best player available”, so given what Reid and Dorsey have said so far I think Joeckel has to be considered a strong candidate for #1 overall. I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched much of Joeckel, but several of the prospect evaluators that I respect the most seem very high on him and they would know better than I.
My take on Joeckel: If the Chiefs really don’t like any of the QBs that much I’ll be fine with the Joeckel pick, but not excited. Mainly because a great LT doesn’t assure you any playoff success. If you have a good QB to protect then they are great. If you have a mediocre QB then there is only so much a LT can do. Personally, I’d rather they resign Branden Albert and draft an impact player elsewhere (preferably QB).
Finally let’s talk about Star Lotulelei.
Most of you are going to hate what I am about to say. I think there is a strong chance that Lotulelei could be KC’s pick at #1 overall. I actually think that Lotulelei is a more likely pick than Joeckel given that KC has an opportunity to re-sign Albert. I know the idea of taking ANOTHER defensive lineman in the first round will make people want to pull their hair out, but Lotulelei is the real deal. I have a feeling that he may light up the combine similar to what Dontari Poe did last year with the difference being that he has the impressive game film to back it up. Last year people said that Poe’s size/strength/speed gave him the upside of a Haloti Ngata. Well, Star Lotulelei actually looks like Ngata on film, it’s impressive.
If KC doesn’t see a QB they like and resign Albert, I think Star is the pick. If Dontari Poe and Lotulelei both lived up to their freakishly high ceilings KC could have the most fearsome defensive front that the NFL has seen in a long time. They could pair them up with either Tyson Jackson (with a renegotiated contract) or a re-signed Ropati Pitoitua. I know a lot of KC fans wouldn’t like this pick, but in my opinion if we stay at #1 it would have the second biggest impact after taking a QB.
I don’t think we’ll have to wait until April 25th to know what KC is going to do. I think what they do with Albert, Dorsey, Jackson, Pitoitua, and possible QBs that they could bring in will give us a good idea of which of these prospects they are targeting.
If KC re-signs Albert, I think you can rule out Luke Joeckel (NOTICE: Please save your “they should move Albert to guard” comments, that’s NEVER going to happen, EVER).
If they restructure Tyson Jackson and re-sign either Dorsey or Pitoitua (I’m guessing Pitoitua since he’ll be cheaper and played for the Jets while Sutton was there) then I don’t think Lotulelei will be the pick.
If they trade for a Nick Foles, Matt Flynn, or Alex Smith then I don’t think they’ll go with a QB first overall.
So watch what the Chiefs do over the next month because I think it may just tip their hand on what they are planning to do with the first pick.
One final thought relating to my composite big board: If KC did take a QB first overall and didn’t have to draft one in the 2nd round, it appears that there might be some very good WRs and DBs that rate out right in the area where KC will be picking. Players like Terrance Williams, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter, Xavier Rhodes, and Eric Reid would all be great picks for KC in the 2nd round.
Regardless of what KC does make sure you tune in here to AA where we’ll keep you up to date on all the latest draft and free agency news.
Check out my other draft related posts:
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!