The 2014 NFL Draft is now officially in the books and after months of waiting and speculating Chiefs fans finally have some new players to look at. So this week I’m going to do just that. Draft grades always kind of bother me. It’s even more speculation than the mock drafts are. I’m fine assigning grades a couple of years later when we see how it actually turned out, but how do we know if this class is an “A” or an “F” yet? That’s why for each of KC’s six picks I’ll just give you what I see as the pros and cons of that pick and then some final thoughts on if I initially liked it or not. Let’s dive right in with their first pick…….
Dee Ford – DE/OLB – Auburn – 6’2″ – 252 lbs – 4.59 forty – 29 bench
The Chiefs shocked most people by taking an outside edge rusher with their first overall pick. After Jadeveon Clowney and Kalil Mack, Ford was widely considered the next best pass rusher in the draft.
The Chiefs pass rush really struggled down the stretch. In fact, after starting the season on pace to break the single season sack record they drastically fell off in the second half, especially when Justin Houston and Tamba Hali were banged up. The lack of pass rush then exposed weaknesses in the secondary that teams were able to exploit. Despite KC’s perceived needs at offensive line and wide receiver, you can make a strong case for their lack of pass rush being the number one contributor to their playoff loss collapse. Drafting Ford addresses that need. Plus, I love the idea of getting an impact skill position player with your first round pick. A great pass rusher can impact a game every bit as much as a wide receiver can. Obviously, drafting Ford also allows KC to have a plan in place for moving on from the aging Tamba Hali whose contract is going to be a major issue next offseason. Scouting reports rave about Ford’s explosive first step and speed off the edge. Those are skills that can’t be taught and usually can’t be found later in the draft.
The Chiefs drafted a player in the first round where they already had two starting Pro Bowl caliber players. That’s really the main issue most people have. Yes, Tamba is getting older and expensive, but in terms of winning THIS YEAR, OLB was not a position that people were worried about. Many people wanted KC to use this pick on a WR. Plus, Ford has some injury history, will need to transition to linebacker, and isn’t very strong against the run.
The more I think about this pick, the more I like it. For me, the bottom line is that I want a first round pick that has a chance to be a game changing difference maker. Dee Ford can be just that. I understand that people wanted a WR, but who would you have taken there? Marqise Lee? Look how far he fell. That tells me that teams were scared off by his medicals and didn’t feel safe risking a high pick on him. That tells me everything I need to know. I like this pick infinitely more than an offensive lineman in that spot and the top two safeties were already off the board. KC got a very good CB prospect in the third, so I don’t think you can make an argument that it was a mistake to pass on Darquez Dennard. I think in two years when Tamba Hali is no longer a Chief and Dee Ford is putting up double digit sacks, everyone will be just fine with this pick.