The NFL Combine starts this weekend, which means we are getting closer and closer to figuring out who the Kansas City Chiefs are going to select in the 2014 draft. For the next few days we are going to take a look at some of the guys who could play in to the Chiefs draft thoughts and therefore, should have your attention at the combine.
Today we’re going to look at offensive linemen, a position the Chiefs suddenly have a serious need for heading into 2014.
Kansas City is on tap to lose Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah, and Geoff Schwartz off of last season’s offensive line. All three of those guys saw time as a starter. While Donald Stephenson is expected to fill in the open tackle spot – whether at left tackle or at right tackle with Eric Fisher switching to the left side – the Chiefs do not have an immediate answer at right guard nor do they have a swing tackle to take Stephenson’s place.
The draft would seem to be the place where the Chiefs are going to fill their swing tackle need. And, as luck would have it, there are a lot of good mid-to-late round candidates to fill the spot.
Here’s five guys the Chiefs may be interested in.
1. Ja’Wuan James
Watch to Watch: Kick-Slide Drill, Shuttle Run
Met with Chiefs: Yes
JaWaun James reports sound a lot like the ones we heard about Donald Stephenson before he entered the draft. Talented, high upside, came out of college a year too early. This could bode well for the Chiefs as they need a Stephenson-type to on their offensive line.
James was reported to have had a strong Senior Bowl in January and has the physical tools to be a future starting offensive lineman. The knocks on him are simply that he has another year of development before he can actually be a full-time starter. Had he waited another year, some think he could have been a first round pick.
Tennessee was loaded along the offensive line this past season, so James doesn’t have a lot of experience playing on the left side of the line. The combination of his footwork, leaving too early, and his lack of playing time at left tackle could force his stock down to the mid-rounds.
What could boost is draft position is if he shows well in some of the technical drills at the combine, particularly the kick-slide drill. James is thought to struggle most against speedy defensive ends who can beat him off the snap. This stems from a knock on James’ footwork and lateral quickness. A good drill could put some of those thoughts to rest.
There’s some similarities between James and current Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson. When Stephenson came out Oklahoma after his junior season, many felt he had come out a year too early, but also felt he could be solid NFL starting tackle. James fits this same kind of description as a guy who could end up being a starter after a year or two as a backup.