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Chiefs' Next-Gen: First Class


When last we spoke, I predicted the Kansas City Chiefs would select Eric Fisher with the #1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. It should be noted that my prediction came before the wave of national reports that the Chiefs would take Fisher with their top draft choice. Before those reports began surfacing on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, most of the talking heads and draftniks had the Chiefs linked to Luke Joeckel. I hate to gloat, but I made one bad prediction after another for the 2012 season. Cut me some slack here.

Now that the studio audience is done applauding, let’s look at the 2013 draft class:

1 (1): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
3 (63): Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
3 (96): Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
4 (99): Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
5 (134): Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
6 (170): Eric Kush, C, California (PA)
6 (204): Braden Wilson, FB, Kansas State
7 (207): Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton

Here are the most notable undrafted free agents the Chiefs agreed to terms with:

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Brad Madison, DE, Missouri
Rob Lohr, DT, Vanderbilt

I’m pleased with what the organization did over the weekend, but here’s what the national talking heads are saying about the Chiefs’ 2013 NFL Draft class:

Nate Davis, USA Today

Kansas City Chiefs: Hard to argue with T Eric Fisher at the top, nor the trade of their second-round pick for QB Alex Smith. Fourth-round RB Knile Davis could more effectively assume the battering ram role behind Jamaal Charles after vets Thomas Jones and Peyton Hillis struggled in recent seasons. Former Alabama LB Nico Johnson (Round 4) might start, and Round 7 pass rusher Mike Catapano of Princeton is a developmental prospect to monitor. Grade: A-

Chris Burke, SI.com

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs could not go wrong choosing between OT Eric Fisher and Joeckel at No. 1. They might have gone wrong after that, depending on how well TE Travis Kelce walks the straight and narrow or when RB Knile Davis can contribute. CB Sanders Commings could win playing time, and I actually think seventh-round pick DE Mike Catapano will stick on this roster. Grade: B

Alex Marvez, FOXSports.com

Kansas City Chiefs: In the spirit of the Peyton Manning-Ryan Leaf and Drew Bledsoe-Rick Mirer debates, history will judge whether the Chiefs made the right call snubbing Texas A&M’s tackle Luke Joeckel to nab Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher with the draft’s top overall pick. Andy Reid doesn’t have a history of using big running backs, which makes his third-round selection of 227-pound Knile Davis from Arkansas so curious. Grade: B

Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Kansas City Chiefs: A smooth pass-protector and a more physical run-blocker than Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher provides the Chiefs with a physical presence and insurance in case the club elects to trade franchised left tackle Branden Albert. While Fisher is safe, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Knile Davis are definite gambles on upside, though each could pay off significantly. Of the Chiefs’ third-day picks, I like the physicality and size of defensive back Sanders Commings and linebacker Nico Johnson. This is a solid class, overall, but, frankly, I would’ve taken Joeckel with the first pick and thought that the Chiefs gambled too much on upside throughout much of the rest of their draft. Grade: C

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Kansas City Chiefs: They couldn’t miss on can’t-miss Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher first overall, but otherwise, what Andy Reid and John Dorsey did was underwhelming. Overrated Arkansas running back Knile Davis was a wasted third-rounder. It wasn’t exactly a “worst to playoffs” weekend for the Chiefs. Grade: C-

The full staff here at AA will be doing player evaluations throughout the week, but I’d like to talk about the class as a whole.

These eight players will be the foundation the new regime builds its legacy on. The first draft class for this administration is key to the future success (or failure) of this franchise. Look no further than the 2009 draft class and the impact it had on Scott Pioli’s failed regime. Only two of the players drafted in 2009 are still on the roster (Tyson Jackson and Ryan Succop). It can be argued that only one of those two is in good standing (Succop).

John Dorsey is in the same position his precedessor was in four years ago. He’s writing his own redemption song for a football team that went 2-14 in 2012 (like Carl Peterson’s Chiefs in 2008). Pioli also had a Top 5 draft pick when he came on board. The pick was used to take the much-maligned Tyson Jackson 3rd overall. Given everything that’s happened with Branden Albert, Dorsey can’t afford to miss on Eric Fisher like Pioli did with Jackson. Neither can he have six of the other members of his first class wash out of the organization (and in some cases the NFL) in just four years.

A successful launch of the new administration will require drafted players to live up to or exceed their draft expectations. I suspect that Eric Fisher and Nico Johnson will be Day 1 starters in Kansas City. In time, I think it’s possible that three more of the 2013 draftees could join the first team. Ideally, that will come through winning their individual starting jobs outright and through producing on the football field.

In the past, a lack of capable competition helped underacheiving players win starting roles by default. That should change under John Dorsey and Andy Reid. If that can happen, this organization has a future to look forward to. A failed draft class will lead to excess dead money and the inevitable rebuild.

I’m sure no one in Chiefs Kingdom wants to see a re-run of the last episode in Kansas City. Time will tell how well the Chiefs did this past weekend with the 2013 NFL Draft. These young players have a long road ahead of them. In the meantime, the Chiefs will host a three-day rookie mini-camp on May 10-11-12. Rumble, young men, rumble!

How do you feel about the Chiefs’ draft picks? Use the comment section below to weigh in.

Until next time, Addicts!

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  • Chris Tarrants

    Well first of all the talking heads never say anything good about kc. They will be forced to change that soon! Solid draft class that could end up being stellar

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I think our draft grades have mostly been positive. I haven’t seen a report card anywhere for Kansas City lower than a C-.

      • Chris Tarrants

        Lower than a c-? I hope not anything else would be a failure lol

        • Stacy D. Smith

          That’s why I said most of the national talking heads seem to like what the Chiefs did.

          • Guest

            Great read, Stacey! It’s kind of scary to have the Top Sports Media pundits give us high marks! But we definetly have the 2 guys who can turn this thing around! I also agree on just about everything you said! Spot on, Stacey! No way is Kelce a gamble! He’s one tough SOB!

          • Stacy D. Smith

            The overall opinion of this franchise changed almost overnight when Reid was brought in. We’ve been praised in the national media pretty regularly since January.

          • Justin R Groth

            He is a bit of a gamble. However the gamble isn’t on his play however on his maturation. If he parties a lot or gets into to much trouble than it will look bad on us.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Kelce wasn’t in any on-going trouble. I believe it was just one incident.

          • Guest

            Did you mean Maturation or Masturbation? I guess either term would fit!? Bwahahahaha…..

  • steve james

    I am drinking the R&D koolaid but I love it. Great upside in every one.

  • Canad-Ian

    Didn’t Knile run a 4.3 40?? Maybe that’s why Reid made the “curious” pick

    • Stacy D. Smith

      The guy has off the chart athleticism. The pick did cause me to raise an eyebrow though because I thought there were better players on the board. Given his injury history and fumbling problems, I think it’s also possible that he would’ve been there at the bottom of the round where they took Johnson. I don’t so much mind draft picks made purely on upside, but I think Round 3 is too early for a flyer. You can typically still find Day 1 starters in that round. Nico Johnson is a prime example.

      • ArrowFan

        What round was JC pick in. He wasn’t exactly a sure thing either.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Round 3. Charles was twice as productive in college though.

          • kmon

            but didn’t colt McCoy have more rushing yrds than jc for 1 or 2 seasons At Texas? not knocking my boy jc at all. but if knile can hang on to the ball then I think he can b very productive as a back up

          • Stacy D. Smith

            No. McCoy’s a QB.

          • xxxlp

            Well QB or RB doesn’t really matter; in 2005 the Texas QB DID rush for more yards than JC. It wasn’t Colt McCoy, it was Vince Young, though. VY had more than 1k yards, Charles had 878.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            It does matter because it depends entirely on which quarterback we’re talking about. Had he said Young, I might’ve been unsure about it. When he said Colt McCoy, I knew instantly (before even checking) that it couldn’t be true.

      • Suzi Conger

        The chronic injury(ies) concern me most; ….some athletes can rectify fumble problems via their coaching staff’s possible solutions

    • Doug McD

      My guess is that Reid has a role in his game plan for a guy of his size and quickness.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        He’ll probably be used like McCoy was in Philly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.cunningham.3158 KCPauly

    ME LIKEY……GO CHIEFS!!!!!

  • ArrowFan

    Thinks this was a good draft and am excited for the UDFA as well.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I think Madison and Bray have a chance to stick.

      • Guest

        Totally…. Bray is a great RFA pick-up that Andy Reid could help mature into a real Franchise QB!

  • http://www.facebook.com/PullinInGreen Tyleet Heggs

    Overall, I like our draft. I think I would’ve like to seen us take a versatile OL in the later rounds like Barrett Jones, or even Sam Montgomery for the DL. #1 chiefs fan in GA

  • http://twitter.com/WhiteRhino87 Justin Kirkland

    I was hoping to see the Chiefs pick up David Bass rather than Catapano in the later rounds when he was still available, the dude is aggressive and down right nasty when it comes to getting to the QB. Instead I saw him go to the Faiders. Barrett Jones would’ve been another solid pickup to push Hudson.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Nice article Stacy. Not too glamerous of a draft for the Chiefs. Let’s hope that it was a productive one none the less. I too believe Fisher and Johnson will be day one starters. I’m looking forward to seeing Nico come in and do a good job. Kelce I’m okay with but Davis I’m not too crazy about. I would have rather seen us take Barrett Jones with that pick for quality depth on the o line. Catapano is the guy I’m most intrigued with. Dare I say he reminds me of Jared Allen. I love guys who are described as “motor never stops”. I’m looking forward to seeing him in a game. Guys like that really shine when it’s game time..

  • BigGil

    Out of curiosity I went back and read a bunch of “sleeper” articles (something I tend to do every year) to see if maybe we hit on any. You could say that. All but Wilson appeared on such lists (granted Nico only appeared once, and it took a December article to find Fisher listed… but the other guys each appeared on 2+ lists). Obviously you can’t trust such lists 100% (they could be written by schmucks), but it did temper my mood (and even added intrigue) as to my initial reaction to the class as a whole. Even UDFAs Bray and TJ Knowles (TE) appeared on a couple such lists. Let’s hope we get a few real hits.

    I also see Fisher and Nico as the instant starters, but also think Kelce will contribute significantly this season. And as much as I don’t want to like Commings (given the domestic assault thing) I can’t help but have a gut feeling that he’ll be the ballhawk we do desperately need.

    And, of course, like seemingly everybody else, I wanna see Catapano beast out. Did notice that his career stats at Princeton took into account half sacks (rather than every sack counting as 1) and did notice on his 2012 highlight reel that at least half a dozen times he had what should’ve gone down in the books as a half sack. If this speculation is correct, he may have gotten to the QB at least 15 times as a senior. I hope that’s true as that just makes his prospects even sweeter.

  • Dustin Joyce

    For the first time the draft class feels like icing on the free agency cake. For once we didn’t need players so badly we HAD to draft them to start in the position of need. We drafted competition for our starters – that is an A+ grade for R&D to me. Lastly, anyone who prefers Joeckel over Fisher has never seen them in an interview. Fisher is a grown ass man, while Joeckel will take years to mature.

    • Norman Gunn

      Awesome points!

  • unclejesse40

    Here is what I like about drafting a bunch of guys that have really high ceilings but also really low floors, COACHING. Talent + Coaching = studs. I wasn’t really excited about kniles but I have to remember that hes not going to be a 20 carry a game guy with JC here. the most he is going to get will be like 10-15 a game and because of that I dont worry about his hands or his health as much. Like I said before, high ceilings and good coaching could make this a beast of a class.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      That certainly can be a recipe for success, but there are other factors. A player has to be responsive to coaching. Coaching still has to put the player in a scheme conducive to that player’s success. It also has to translate on the field.

  • Suzi Conger

    Thanx for the good article Stacy