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The Chiefs 2013 Draft And 2014 Needs

I think we’re all still trying to wrap our heads around the new regime’s first draft and its apparent strategy moving forward.

While most fans have been hoping to see the team tick as many need boxes as possible in the course of the three days at Radio City Music hall, that doesn’t appear to be the way that Chiefs GM John Dorsey does things. It seems that Dorsey views free agency as a means to fill holes, while the Draft serves to add talent, regardless of position.

The team selected SEC players with its compensatory 3rd-rounder, its 4th and its 5th-round pick but the rest of players it took were from relatively small programs. 1st overall pick OT Eric Fisher was the first player from the MAC selected that high in the conference’s history. DE/OLB Mike Catapano became the first Princeton player drafted in 12 years. NFL fans worldwide suddenly learned that there is a University of California … in Pennsylvania … after Kansas City picked C Eric Kush in the 6th round.

Chiefs fans who were furiously googling these guys likely found very little – often not even a photograph. On one hand, the obscurity of these names showed that Dorsey and Chiefs HC Andy Reid have been doing their homework and were digging for diamonds in the rough. On the other hand, one wondered whether these guys were even on any other team’s draft boards.

I think it shows that the new regime is realistic about what it is going to get from the Draft. This is a team that counts on getting prospects – not players – from the Draft. With virtually all the team’s needs filled through free agency, late April was a time to pick up some young, unfinished products. The two big knocks against small school players is that they are difficult to evaluate due to the quality of the opponents they faced on tape and they are also expected to have a longer, tougher transition to the NFL.

But, for Fisher, Kush, Catapano, and TE Travis Kelce, that won’t be a problem, they won’t be expected to make major contributions this year. With the exception of Fisher, who will likely end up as the team’s full-time right tackle this year, the other small school guys have a line of veterans ahead of them.

However, it would be a mistake to view these guys as purely depth players. One of the biggest blind spots in Draft coverage is that commentators tend to only look at each team’s current needs and evaluate their draft on how those picks fit with what the team will need in the coming season. The reality is that actual front offices are looking much further to the 2014 and 2015 seasons – especially regimes in their first year or with solid job security.

Indeed, one of the over-looked aspects of the Chiefs’ draft was not how they added pieces for this season, but rather how it shows they are building the team for 2014.

Take a quick look at the list of Chiefs starters whose contracts will be up in the next two years and you’ll see what I mean. The notables include (presumed starters in italics):

Free Agents in 2014:

WR Dexter McCluster (slot)

TE Tony Moeaki

S Kendrick Lewis

G Jon Asamoah

G Geoff Schwartz

RB Shaun Draughn (3rd down back)


Free Agents in 2015:

C Rodney Hudson

FB Anthony Sherman

WR Jonathan Baldwin

DE Allen Bailey

RB Nate Eachus

QB Alex Smith


Looking at this list and projecting that most of the 2013 draft class will sit this year now makes sense. All three of the Chiefs’ starting interior O-linemen are up for free agency in the next two years and the only one who we have under contract until 2015 is Hudson, who is a bit of a question mark coming off of a broken leg. In this situation, it makes perfect sense to take a high-upside center from a small school knowing that he may have to step in at one of those three interior roles in the next two years.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Similarly, despite the fact that the Chiefs already had two good blocking/pass-catching tight ends in Moeaki and Anthony Fasano, it makes perfect sense to draft Kelce knowing that Moeaki is injury-prone and in a contract year. Kelce may not see the field this year, but his presence on the roster gives the team options at TE next year when Moeaki will be looking at the door. Depending on how Moeaki plays and his health holds up, he may be disposable or he may be valuable, but the team will have a better bargaining hand with Fasano locked up long-term and a young, dynamic tight end in the wings who will be playing on a cheap, multi-year contract.

The same goes for the running back position behind RB Jamaal Charles. Third-round pick Knile Davis was the biggest head-scratcher of the Chiefs draft. He’s been banged up and last put up good tape in 2011. Spending a year in the meeting rooms as the #4 RB will hopefully allow him to heal up and be ready to take up the reins as the contracts for the two guys ahead of him come to an end.

Both De’Quan Menzie (who spent his rookie season on IR) and 5th-round pick Sanders Commings project as CB/S hybrids and both have the big bodies and hard-hitting style to make them potential replacements for Lewis, who is oft-injured and also in a contract year.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I should say that I don’t necessarily expect these draft picks to replace all of the incumbents, but you have to admire the cleverness and forethought that Dorsey brings to this front office. No matter what happens this season, he has already set up the team to have flexibility and depth at positions where it will potentially be vulnerable after the next round of free agency.

The one big looming 2015 free agent on that list is obviously Smith and anyone’s guess is as good as mine what the team’s opinion of him will be when February 2015 rolls around. He may have just won us a championship; he may have proven to be garbage without the mentorship of 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

I also have absolutely no idea what to expect out of UDFA QB Tyler Bray. He may turn into something, he may turn into nothing. What I do know is that the team wagered absolutely nothing on him so even if his ceiling is that of an average backup, it will have been a sound move.

One way or the other, given that Smith is 29, don’t be surprised to see a quarterback taken high in next year’s draft regardless of how he plays in 2013. His contract will be up the following year and this is just how Dorsey rolls.

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Tags: Draft Free Agency Kendrick Lewis Sanders Commings Tony Moeaki Travis Kelce

  • Stacy D. Smith

    2014 Needs:
    OLB, WR, G, and DE.

    • superman_25_58

      I think we need to start thinking about drafting DJ’s replacement as well IMO. He is getting older and was a little banged up last year and I don’t think we have another WILB on the roster to even began to fill his shoes. I agree with your needs as well though

  • Lyle Graversen

    I’d go with OLB (the drop off is coming for Hali), WR, and interior pass rusher on the DL.

    • Nicholas Alan Clayton

      He also happens to be the highest paid player on the team in terms of yearly average salary.

      • ArrowFan

        Then again most pass rushing specialists are very highly paid currently in the NFL.

        • Nicholas Alan Clayton

          Sure, but I don’t think his production quite met his pay last year. Houston on the other hand is becoming an absolute beast.

    • P Heitman

      Should we have gone with Dion Jordan this year, especially now that we might sign Albert long term?

  • Heilios

    We need to keep McCluster, he is dangerous to defenses and ready to make homerun plays slashing through the secondary!

    • unclejesse40

      I am excited to see what an Offensive minded coach can do with McCluster. I have always felt that if he touches the ball 20-25 times a game you are going to loss. But when he moves all over the field and makes mismatches, thats when he is dangerous. He makes big plays, and also because of the mismatches, makes big plays for others on the team.

  • Danny W

    1 ILB)
    2 OLB)

  • Troy Utt

    I am very excited about the possibilitie’s the future may hold when it comes to Tyler Bray! I have said it before & will say it again, I would have been fine with the Chief’s drafting Bray in the 3rd rd… but am grateful we were able to grab him as an UDFA!!!
    Prior to Bray falling & the signing of Alex Smith, I was all for the QB prospects coming out in 2014…Now it’s all contingent on Bray’s progress! Although The name being floated out there in association with the Chiefs before re-uping for his Sr. year was Aaron Murry out of GA. (dont know much about!!!)
    But like you said…At this point we have absolutely no idea what to expect!!! (with Bray)

  • BigGil

    You got BA as a notable 2014 FA (for the time being that’s the closest thing we can call him). You also stated CalU was in Ohio, though it’s in PA (though that just reinforces the fact that few people know where it is).

    • Nicholas Alan Clayton

      Ag! Right you are. I even had it right in front of me. I guess I was thinking Miami of Ohio. Like Pittsburg State in Kansas.

      • BigGil

        S’okay. With the irony of “small school where nobody knows where it is” and the state error, I felt compelled to point it out and bust chops. IIRC you currently reside in the country of Georgia, and CA(PA) is a blip on the state map (let alone the world map), so I can’t give you too much crap. :-D

  • ArrowFan

    It is to early to start talking 2014 draft. However you do make a very good observation regarding our draft and future free agents. Most of the time we are stuck in the here and now and not looking a year or two down the road. People want to slam us taking an RB in the 3rd when we currently have a very good one, however JC will not be a Chief forever. The best GM’s and team always have someone just as good on the bench waiting when needed, that was Pioli’s biggest fault he never did.

  • GDL40

    All I know is …… Dorsey is full of crap !!!!! ….. “BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE ” – yeah right ! ! ! ! ………He didnt draft for team needs, nor did he draft the best player available with each pick. …… not happy with it so far, but still excited bc it HAS to be significantly better than last year

    • ArrowFan

      BPA is subject to Dorsey’s draft board not yours.

      • GDL40

        NO SH! T !….. and if someone were to ask him specifically if he thought Kelce or Davis were the best players available at that time he would say yes they were …… again ….. FULL OF CRAP ! ….. GM’s in the NFL draft are like politicians ….. its each persons choice if they believe everything they say or not …..

        • chiefdeorty

          Take a chill pill man and let them do their job. I this his job and he will even make it or not but I think this will work out with R&D.

          • GDL40

            No need for a chill pill, but thanks anyway…… lol ….. I hope you’re right though, hope they turn things around BIG time in the next few years and finally win a playoff game !

          • chiefdeorty

            I agree only time will tell I do like that Dorsey came from Green bay they always seem to get good players late in the draft and UFA’s. I just am hoping it was all him and when I read about how much fun Andy Reid is having again it could be very good in KC again. He Reid might have been burnt out in Pa.

        • P Heitman

          What reason/ulterior motive would he have that would force him to lie about that?

    • Larry Dunigan

      I would say that the Chiefs did pick up the best player for the team. Maybe not the best player period, because they did not fit in with what the Chiefs are going to do, making them not the best player at all. Or maybe they are not good people and wouldn’t be good fit in the locker room.
      I would also say they did pick for the Chiefs needs to, maybe not for this year needs but the future needs. You don’t know if you need leverage in contact negotiation to keep a player that is good on the team cheap or replace a player due to injurys or if you couldn’t redo his contract. Also Rome wasn’t built in a day. And the Chiefs was pretty mess up last year.

  • krayfish

    I surely agree about the QB drafting habits of both Andy Reid and John Dorsey. Many fans were unhappy that we didn’t draft a QB high in this years draft and just roll the dice, I was not among them. I was disappointed that there were no QBs that were worth that risk, but not disappointed with Dorsey or Reid.

    Lets face it, the moves made by this new regime feel the same as Pioli’s first moves here because they are the same. Pioli traded a 2nd round draft pick to get us someone else’s throw away QB in Matt Cassel. In my estimation, there were more Chiefs fans that were fired up and approved of the Matt Cassel trade than approve of the Alex Smith trade. Most likely because Matt didn’t have a long history of mediocre QB play in the NFL. He had virtually no history other than a partial season which just happened to start in Kansas City when he threw a TD pass to Randy Moss out of his own end zone and eventually went on to hand us our first loss of many that season.

    But I have never been worried about the Alex Smith trade because both Reid and Dorsey get it; you need a stellar QB to win games and be successful in the NFL. Their histories indicate that they will be drafting our QOTF as early as next season. There’s no reason not to think they will do the same thing they have always done, namely, drafting a great QB to lead our team. It just didn’t work out this year and I can’t see any scenario where they could have done anything different than what they did this year. It stinks that we got handed such a bottom heavy draft when we finally get the first pick but that’s what happened and it is what it is.

  • Chiefsfan1

    To the writer that said he wasnt sure if eric berry deserved his pro bowl nod are you sure?