Five First Round Targets
Let me start by saying that these five targets are NOT the five most talked about targets by the national media. They aren’t even the five most talked about targets by Chiefs followers. These are 100% my own predictions and some of them definitely go against the majority opinion.
I’ll start with the ones that match popular opinion and work my way towards the more “outside the box” options.
Marqise Lee – WR – USC – 6’0″ – 192 lbs – 4.52 forty
When I first started researching KC draft targets, Marqise Lee was at the top of both my list of “likely targets” and my list of “favorite targets”. Then as time passed I let injury concerns and flashy combine numbers by Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks sway me away from Lee. However, as draft day quickly approaches I find myself coming back around to him again. If Lee had come out last year he likely would have been a top ten pick after he absolutely dominated college football with Matt Barkley as his quarterback. Instead, he came back for one more season and suffered from bad QB play and a horrifically unstable coaching situation and has now found himself lost in the shuffle of what is one of the deepest WR classes in recent draft history.
However, I still think that if you had a crystal ball and could look ten years into the future that there is a reasonable chance that Lee emerges as the most productive WR of this class. Yes, he must check out medically, but if he does he’s a better all around WR than anyone else that will be there at pick #23 (I don’t think OBJ will be there) and he should emerge as an elite #1 WR. While I like Brandin Cooks and his explosive speed (he’s actually next on this list), he is more a specialty player than a true #1 WR. With Dwayne Bowe’s age and salary starting to increase, there will likely come a day in the next few years where KC decides to part ways with him. If KC spends a first round pick on a WR it would be nice for that player to become KC’s new #1 target.
This is from Mike Loyko’s NFL Draft Guide (which is EXCELLENT):
Marqise Lee is an electric playmaker that should shine in the NFL. Possesses some of the best vertical speed in the entire draft. Is absolutely lethal with the ball in his hands due to his rapid acceleration and vertical speed. Lee is a flexible and fluid receiver that doesn’t need to decelerate to get in and out of his break. Can separate against coverage at all level of the fields. One of the toughest receivers to cover in football due to his ability to track and adjust to the thrown ball. After the catch he can run away from the defense with track like speed. Lee is a savvy route runner that will only improve in an NFL system. His fluidity and flexibility are huge assets in terms of NFL route running. Lee’s question marks include strength, durability, and focus. On raw talent alone he is one of the top players in the draft. Lee is a plug and play receiver that fits with all 32 teams. Lee is worth a top 20 selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Brandin Cooks – WR – Oregon State – 5’10″ – 189 lbs – 4.33 forty
If the Chiefs are set on going with a wide receiver in the first round and they don’t like what they see from Marqise Lee’s medicals then Brandin Cooks is the other likely target. At this point I’m assuming Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. will be off the board. Frankly, both Lee and Cooks could be as well, but I think they are the most likely to be there and I’m not in favor of rolling the dice on Cody Latimer in the first round. So that leaves the speedy Cooks as the other likely option for KC.
While I absolutely love Cooks explosive abilities I feel that his size and game make him more of a novelty player. I think he’ll largely have to play out of the slot and Andy Reid may have to call up special plays specifically to get the ball in his hands. When he does get the ball he’ll be a dangerous weapon that combined with Jamaal Charles would make KC very hard to defend. With more of a “play it safe” QB in Alex Smith, having two dynamic playmakers that can break an 80 yard TD at any moment would be a huge plus for the offense.
This is from Dane Bruglar’s NFL Draft Guide (which at $4.99 is a STEAL):
Cooks is a special athlete with fluid body control and explosive start/stop capabilities – like Tavon Austin, the game seems to slow down for him and it’s as if he’s moving at a different speed than everyone else on the field. He saw a lot of attention from defenses in college and was exposed to multiple coverages, which helped fine-tune his already crisp routes – had no issue playing the decoy role as well. Cooks is a small target and his size/bulk will likely limit his ability as an outside target, but he is ideally suited for the slot with his controlled athleticism and vision/feel in the open-field – borderline 1st round prospect with impact potential as a rookie.
Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota – 6’6″ – 310 lbs – 5.02 forty – 32 bench
If you’ve been reading my draft posts for the past month or so you already know that I’m on the Hageman bandwagon. In my opinion, he has a chance to be the most dominant defender in this draft not named Jadeveon Clowney. The reason so many have him marked down is because of his inconsistency. He does disappear for stretches of games, but the elite ability he has shown simply can’t be ignored. For me, the only question that the Chiefs should ask themselves when it comes to Hageman is do we believe that he’ll respond to our coaching? If the answer to that question is “yes” then I don’t care who else is available when they pick they should write down Hageman’s name and turn in the card. Ra’shede Hageman playing up to his potential next to Dontari Poe would give Kansas City the most physically dominant front in all of football. The pass rush and defensive backs would all see their play dramatically improved by that kind of presence. Is he a boom or bust pick? Yes, but no other player has the potential to impact KC’s team as much as Hageman.
From Mike Loyko’s Draft Guide:
Ra’Shede Hageman is an enticing prospect because of his athletic, versatile frame and tremendous natural ability. A former TE that brings a lot of explosiveness and athleticism to the position. Plays the position like a much smaller defender winning with quickness and burst of power. Hageman can bring interior pass rush and disrupt passing lanes with his length. Uses his arms to track down the QB or the RB coming through the hole. Due to his build, athleticism, and versatility, I can see all types of different teams being drawn to him. His game has major flaws though. Plays high and narrow, lacking pad level/leverage. Gets blocked and taken out of plays too easily and lacks a violent counter move. Doesn’t use his hands good enough. Disappears for long stretches. Ra’Shede Hageman has plenty of fans inside NFL Front Offices. His rare athletic frame and raw athleticism is a combination NFL team covet. Hageman is a 2nd Round pick that likely goes higher.
Jimmie Ward – S – Northern Illinois – 5’11″ – 193 lbs – 4.47 forty
Here’s where I’m starting to break from the norm. Calvin Pryor is the prospect most fans and “experts” seem to be talking about with KC at pick #23. However, not only do I think that Pryor will likely be off the board when KC picks, but I have always stated that his skill set is not really what KC needs. Pryor’s best feature is his physicality and the Chiefs already have that in Eric Berry. What KC needs is a true coverage safety and the more I watch Jimmie Ward the more I think he’s the best coverage safety in this draft (and that includes HaHa Clinton-Dix).
Ward is a little small, but he’s only about a half of an inch shorter than Pryor. Ward has shown the ability to play the “center field” safety role well, which is something KC has been sorely missing the past few seasons. However, Ward can also drop down and cover WRs in man to man coverage. This would give KC a TON of coverage options to keep defenses guessing. It would also give them some options in case of injuries. Say Brandon Flowers went down with an injury, Ward could actually play nickel back and KC could bring in Abdulah or Commings to replace him at safety. Despite being labeled a “coverage safety” he is also a very solid tackler and some have even said he could play SS in the NFL. Ward is quickly becoming one of my favorite prospects in this draft.
From Mike Loyko’s Draft Guide:
Jimmie Ward is a tremendous coverage safety. Ward has the hip fluidity of a cornerback, allowing him to excel in zone and man coverages. Speed and mobility to play all over the field. Can line up deep off the line and play centerfield or drop into the slot to cover WR or TE. Ward possesses strong football instincts and is able to react quickly to a developing play. An explosive closer, cuts down throwing windows, and delivers a violent strikes on contact. Has all the tools to be a complete, every down NFL safety prospect. Versatile enough to play Strong Safety, Free Safety, and Nickel Corner. Lacks the prototypical height and weight of most NFL Free Safties. Faced a lower level of competition, which means he might be challenged by game speed. Ward has elevated his stock all season long and is now could be one of the first two safties selected. Jimmie Ward will not last pick 50 in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Gabe Jackson – G – Mississippi State – 6’3″ – 336 lbs – 5.51 forty – 30 bench
Okay, most of you were probably at least open to the idea of Jimmie Ward, but Gabe Jackson? Not Zack Martin? (He’ll be gone) Not Xavier Su’a-Filo? (I have some concerns) I think after Zack Martin, Gabe Jackson is the best guard prospect in this draft. I’m pretty much alone on an island with this opinion though. Everyone and their mother is hailing Su’a-Filo as the man, but I just flat out like Jackson more and I’m convinced at least one other NFL team will agree with me and Jackson will be off the board in the first 40 picks.
Jackson is a physical monster that just dominates players when he gets his hands on them. While he’s not near as mobile as Su’a-Filo, Jackson is actually very agile for a man his size and I think he’ll excel in either a man or zone blocking scheme. Jackson is incredibly durable having never missed a game in four years of starting in the SEC. I also like the idea of drafting a guy that was able to handle starting as a red shirt freshman in the most physical football conference in the country. Speaking of which, his last two seasons of starting in the best conference in college football he didn’t give up a single sack. NOT ONE. Then you add to that his long arms and brute strength and you have a prospect that is going to walk in on day one and start and probably not give up his spot for a decade. My dream scenario would be for KC to trade back to the late first/early second round, pick up an extra pick or two, and take Jackson. It seems like some years the Chiefs take a player out of left field that nobody is talking about. My vote for the possible “left field” selection would be Jackson.
Here’s what Mike Loyko’s draft guide says:
No player in the 2014 NFL Draft has started more consecutive games than Gabe Jackson. He’s an experienced, durable, and rugged Offensive Guard prospect. He weighs in close to 340 pounds, but he’s pretty agile for that size. He’s experienced pulling and trapping in either direction, displaying footspeed to turn up in the hole and lead the way. Jackson can also drive defenders out of the play with impressive point of attack power. He knows how to use his massive frame to cut off defenders from the hole and shield them from the play. A solid pass blocker that maintains a strong base and uses his arm length to keep the defender in front of him. Jackson needs to work on his pad level and become a little more controlled when picking up blocks in space. Jackson is a plug and play OG. His NFL readiness, durability, and power blocking ability will make him a day two selection in the draft.
On the next page you’ll find some of my picks for the mid to late rounds.