This week, the annual Football Today Superfan Super Mock Draft started. Long story short, it’s a mock draft for ESPN’s Football Today podcast in which I have been representing the Chiefs for the last several years. What makes it fun is that, unlike most national mock drafts, in this one the mock GM’s are knowledgeable fans of each of the 32 teams.
While I’ll give a breakdown of the whole three-round mock next week when it’s completed, I can say one thing I have definitely learned from the exercise this time around — the Chiefs really have nothing to lose in trading back this year.
First off, although we all know that GM John Dorsey prefers drafting the “best player available,” it’s pretty clear from his offseason moves that he has been positioning the team to fill a few specific roster spots with rookies from areas that are deep in this year’s class.
The two areas that are the greatest needs for the Chiefs — WR and DB — are indeed deep this year (I don’t put guard here, because I don’t think the Chiefs need to address it with a top 100 pick).
If you look at both positions, there seem to be some pretty clear tiers. The safety position is led at the top pretty clearly by Hasean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, while Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard are the two undisputed top corners.
After that, there is a sizable drop-off to guys that fit some schemes better than others. CB Jason Verrett is big and physical, but has work to do on overall coverage skills while CB Kyle Fuller is a more refined product, but is also on the small side for the 21st century NFL at 5’11”. It’s unlikely any safety other than the two mentioned above will go until the mid-2nd round where a glut of good CB and S talent will be coming into good value range.
Meanwhile, there are similar tiers at WR. Like with DB’s, two players — Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans — are the undisputed leaders of the group, but there is then a pack of players following them that are comparable talents. There, you have guys like Brandin Cooks, Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr., who have a lot of similarities but are all polished with high-end physical skills.
Still, even with how impressive these guys are on tape, the group of guys likely falling in the early 2nd around like Cody Latimer, Davante Evans and Kelvan Benjamin (who is highly ranked but looks like Baldwin 2.0 to me) would all be day one starters for the Chiefs.
It looks extremely unlikely that the top safeties, corners or wideouts will fall to the Chiefs at 23 and they can’t afford to expend any draft ammunition to go get them. However, the team will still be in the catbird seat for the second tier guys. I have yet to see a mock where none of those guys I mentioned above as “second tier” are available for the Chiefs.
However, drafting is not just about plugging a player in a need spot. The Chiefs’ schemes ask specific things of their DB’s and WR’s and not all of those players available at 23 will be good scheme fits even if they are nominally value picks there. With DC Bob Sutton’s man-heavy scheme that requires corners to be physical at the line, I’m sure the Chiefs value Verrett far above Fuller, and while all those wideouts look good, for some reason Beckham Jr. just looks the most like a Reid wideout to me. They all have breakaway speed and great hands, but there’s something about Beckham Jr.’s awareness and vision in space that makes me see him in red.
Either way, when it comes to looking for value at DB and WR, this is the perfect draft to have the one thing the Chiefs lack — a 2nd-round pick.
If the Chiefs are able to trade back — which is no given — they will find players at the top of the 2nd that they like, even if they don’t reap major draft pick gains in the process. Sure, some talent might fall to them at 23, but if they get back into the 2nd, they can definitely take guys like hard-hitting S Deone Buchannon or Richard Sherman doppelgänger CB Stan Jean-Baptiste who both look like handmade Sutton machines. Toss in an extra top 100 pick from the trade down and you can write the draft down as an instant success in my book.
This is a draft where the first three rounds are full of possibilities and the unpredictable tumblings of the top QB’s this year will make for a chaotic draft market I think Kansas City can take advantage of. In my mind, their number one goal with their 23rd overall pick is turning it into more picks.