Chiefs: AFC West Draft Realities

1 Feature From The Bleachers

There’s always that “donk” sound following a whack on the side of the head coming with the realization after the draft… that our AFC West foes have perhaps gotten better than the Chiefs in the draft weekend process. However, what follows may offer that sobering donk a few days early.

In what is being touted as the deepest draft in light years with the best DT in 10 years (Aaron Donald), and a plethora of top-notch QBs sprinkled across every round; with a wonderland of wideouts not seen in 15 years, and possibly an equal number of quality corners as wideouts. When all of this is being provided by this 2014 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers (the Chiefs’ main AFC West competition) are each getting seven draft picks while Oakland, like K.C., is receiving six (however Oakland gets theirs in the early part of each round).

The Raiders are drafting four out of the top 107 prospects in this year’s draft. The Bolts, four out of the top 125 and the Broncos, four out of the top 131. The Chiefs will be drafting three out of the top 124 prospects.

As of this moment, each AFC West team’s draft picks look like this:

AFC West Draft Picks

When you’re chasing two teams in your own division, “now” is never a good time to fall behind in the arms race.

As I’ve stated before, I’m all in favor of the Chiefs trading down. Picking up one more pick in this “year of the quality prospect” can even out the playing field. Some will say the second-round pick the Chiefs spent on bringing Alex Smith to K.C. is that great equalizer but there are also those who are already predicting that the Chiefs are, and will be, the third best team in the AFC West. And, they’re doing that before draft day is even here.

So, let’s take a look at three mock drafts. All three will be done at Fanspeak. In the first mock, I’ll be picking for the Broncos. In the second mock I’ll be picking for the Chargers. In the last mock, the Raiders.

Then we’ll take a look at comparing the picks each team ends up with, because that’s essentially what we’ll be doing come Saturday evening, the 10th of May. In other words, a week from today.

Let’s begin with the Broncos’ draft.

1 Broncos DraftThe Broncos need a DT and Ra’Shede Hageman could be someone who wreaks havoc for years to come. AA writer Lyle Graversen will not be happy if this scenario plays out because Hageman is his top choice for the Chiefs, and if you’ve watched any tape on him, you can understand why.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste is one of those tall, long and lanky corners who should help to ease the pain and suffering, along with the addition of ex-Patriots CB Aqib Talib, of the loss of Champ Bailey.

Guard David Yankey, while slow to pull, once he gets to his man, he takes him out. He’ll be much more suited to protecting Manning in the passing game than plowing the way for runners because he not very athletic and his foot speed lags. However, Yankey, Jean-Baptiste and Hageman could all be day one starters, or at least big time contributors.

The Chargers, whose players were selected by the Fanspeak automated generator, have an equally impressive top three in: defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming and corner E.J. Gaines. However, the point of this comparison is to show the overall “haul” that each of the Chiefs AFC West rivals are making while comparing that to the Chiefs’ new additions. In this draft, the Broncos’ draft, seven is clearly better than six.

Next let’s look at the draft in which I am selecting for the San Diego Chargers.

1 Chargers DraftIf I was the Chargers GM and a Chiefs fan, I would now hate myself. The first round choices across the board were all fairly predictable but, when Austin Seferian-Jenkins became available in the second round and then Zach Mettenberger in the third, I felt like I was setting the Chargers up for success for the next decade. Legitimate replacements for both Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates in one draft, in one fell swoop, was more than I could pass up. And… made me want to up-chuck.

The point of this experiment is simply to see ahead of time that our division foes could each end up with an incredible draft crop and one that out shines the Chiefs’ draft no matter what the Chiefs do.

Chiefs fans should be ready for that to happen but it comes with the territory. What territory you may ask? The territory of, 1) the Broncos and the Chargers having more picks than the Chiefs and, 2) being involved in one of the best and deepest talent pools in at least a decade.

Now, I’m not normally into assessing the true value of a draft class until four years have passed and sometimes longer. However, an AFC West team could have won a Super Bowl ring by then and done so with the help of this draft class so to some extent it’s worthless to wait four years.  With that being said, there’s no denying the level of skills and athleticism of the prospects in the 2014 draft. These prospects not only pass the eyeball test but have some of the best numbers of prospects in years. For instance, if you were to add up all the yardage that the top 11 QBs in this draft class totaled, I believe it would outshine any other year. No, I have not done the tabulations but, I’m fairly sure I’m right on that one.

Here are the senior year stats for the top 11 QBs this year,

1. Johnny Manziel, 4,114

2. Blake Bortles, 3,581

3. Teddy Bridgewater, 3,970

4. Derek Carr, 5,083

5. Jimmy Garoppolo, 50,50

6. Tom Savage, 2,958

7. Zach Mettenberger, 3,082

8. A.J. McCarron, 3,063

9. Aaron Murray, 3,075 & 3,893 (Junior year)

10. Logan Thomas, 2,909

11. David Fales, 4,189

Seven of the top 11 quarterbacks in this draft have thrown for more than 3,500 yards in a college season. That’s a good draft class and the sad part for some of these QB prospects is they may go undrafted but, if they’d come out in a different year they’d not only be drafted but drafted fairly high.

Next, let’s take a look at the Raiders’ draft.

1 Raiders Draft

I’m feeling more and more confident that Houston will be trading out of the number one spot so that the Falcons can get Jadeveon Clowney, so the above draft scenario shouldn’t happen. However, the point should be made that the Raiders are getting four of the top 107 prospects in an incredibly deep draft. One scout was quoted as saying that in this draft you could get a third-round talent in the fifth round. If that’s true, what could you get in the third round? I’m pretty certain that means some teams will be getting a first-round talent near the top of the third round. Right where the Raiders are picking. Play their cards right and the Raiders could end up with three first rounders (talent wise) in this draft. That’s a terrific way to get good fast.

I don’t know what’s wrong with the Fanspeak Mock Draft generator because in one draft it correctly showed the Raiders not getting a fifth- or sixth-round pick but in this draft it shows no fourth rounder. In any event, Chiefs fans should expect the Raiders to have a very strong draft because, 1) they draft in the 5 hole of each round (except the 5th and 6th rounds) and, 2) Raiders Reggie McKenzie’s GM skills were nurished for 18 years in the same Packers garden as John Dorsey’s.

Plus, the Raiders are picking 18 slots ahead of the Chiefs in each round.

The realities of this draft for the Chiefs, and Chiefs fans alike, can be sobering especially when viewed through the glass darkly, the AFC West. However, remember the Chiefs have all the star players they had last year (and both Albert and McCluster should be easily replaced) and with a few holes filled, will be a much better team than they were a year ago. Yes, the AFC West foes will be improving too but Andy Reid and John Dorsey should be a up to the task.

The task? Draft three starters with their first three picks.

Looking back over the sample drafts scenarios for each team above, it’s clear that every AFC West foe could draft a starting-caliber prospect in the first three rounds. What that means for Dorsey and Reid — and what that means as far as keeping up with the Joneses — is that the Chiefs will have to be such good talent evaluators in this draft that their first three picks, in rounds 1, 3, and 4 are also worthy starting caliber talents.

It’s a tall order. Can it be done? In this draft, with R&D at the helm, I have to believe the answer is a resounding, YES. In fact, it’s specifically what I’ll be watching out for. Comparing those first three picks for each AFC West counterpart, that’s “The Keys to Victory” in this draft.

In the long term, the Chiefs need each of their draft picks to come through. Just like they need each of their picks from last season to heal, develop and mature, the same can be said for this year’s crop… in order for the Chiefs be able to play against the big boys of the league. Yes, Mr. Manning in Denver has one or two more years left and Philip Rivers a few more left in the tank than that, but I’m not of the opinion that that the Chiefs should “wait around” for the neighborhood bullies to finish dominating time on the local court just so they can get some mop up minutes before the sun goes down on their own aging stars. It’s time to step up and “push” those bullies off the court!

Fans have mocked the bone marrow out of this draft class. The only cure now for the Goodell “Delay of Game” penalty imposed on this draft is to get a real draft day transfusion going. Personally, I can’t wait.

Go Chiefs!

Alright, Addict fans, who will have the best draft in the AFC West?

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