Kicking off our Draft Thursday we bring you a short Q&A I did with Larry McDaniel from over at With The First Pick, one of FanSided’s draft sites. Larry, along with knowing quite a bit about the upcoming draft, is also a Kansas City Chiefs fan.
What more could you ask, right? Let’s get right to it.
PA: The Chiefs have been picking high in the first round for a few years so being back in the 20’s obviously changes the draft strategy a bit. I’d say KC’s two biggest needs are nose tackle and WR. Can they get themselves an immediate starter at either of those positions in the first round or will they be reaching?
LM: The Chiefs can most certainly get themselves an immediate starter at either position. Right now the hot guy at nose tackle is obviously Phil Taylor out of Baylor. The guy is a load in the middle. The great thing about him is that he’s not the typical nose tackle. He can move laterally and make plays outside the hashes. Adding him to the roster improves not only the run defense, but it helps Tamba Hali. Often, quarterbacks are able to escape him by simply stepping up into the pocket. With Taylor collapsing the pocket, I would expect Hali to have another career year.
A.J. Green and Julio Jones will be long gone by 21, but a guy at wide receiver that I really like is Torrey Smith from Maryland. At 21, he is a slight reach, but most would not goff at the Chiefs if they decided on him. He’s a guy that can spread the field and give Matt Cassel a down field target. He’ll also help out Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. Bowe received a great deal of attention towards the end of the season. Teams ran an over and under scheme against him, and he was relatively kept in check. Smith takes that double team away and allows Bowe to work one on one. He’ll also lift the 8-man fronts that Charles saw all season. Imagine the Chiefs running game if the box wasn’t loaded with 8-9 players every time. Smith reminds me of a few guys rolled up into one. He has the smoothness and elusiveness of Jamaal Charles, the vertical speed of Pierre Garcon, and the build of Roddy White. Good combination right there.
PA: How deep do you feel this class of wide receivers is? Can KC get themselves value in the 2nd and 3rd rounds at that position?
LM:The wide receiver class really fell off when Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Ryan Broyles, and others, decided to return to school. However, there are some guys in the 2nd/3rd rounds that the Chiefs could draft, and insert them into the starting line up.
Randall Cobb from Kentucky, a versatile guy that can eat up zone coverage and cause havoc up the seam. He’s very explosive in the open field. You miss a tackle, or give him a crease and he’ll take a short pass to the hosue. He’s got a Dexter McCluster-esk vibe to his game, but he’s much bigger and stronger.
Jonathan Baldwin out of Pittsburgh is another one. He’s a 6’5” guy that has the potential to run a 4.3 at the NFL Scouting Combine. His ball skills are tremendous and he has the knack for making the difficult catches. I worry about his passion for the game and character, but he definitely can make a difference on the field.
Leonard Hankerson is yet another guy that can come in and solidify the #2 receiver spot. He’s a big bodied receiver that has excellent hands and is a savy route runner. Doesn’t possess short area quickness, but is a long strider and can build up speed and get behind the secondary.
Last but not least, Jerrell Jernigan from Troy. He’s an interesting prospect. This guy excels at running with the ball in his hands. All he does is make plays. He Only stands at 5’9”, but has good girth and strength. He could be an option for the Chiefs as well.
PA: It is pretty clear that the Chiefs will continue to run a lot with Jamaal Charles but Thomas Jones is pretty ineffective. If the Chiefs want to continue to pair Charles in a two back system, is there a sneaky running back pick the Chiefs could make in the later rounds to add depth?
LM: That’s a good question. This running back class is not very deep at\ all. The majority of the backs are diminutive, and I can’t see Haley pairing one of those guys with Charles. I do like Darren Evans out of Virginia Tech though. He’s got good size to him (6’0” 220 lbs) and can effectively run between and outside the tackles. He’s had some injury issues, but if he can stay healthy, I look for him to be a quality back that should come off the board in the middle rounds.
PA: Casey Weigmann will likely retire and Rudy Niswanger appears to be just a backup. Can the Chiefs find themselves a center somewhere in the first 3 rounds.
LM: There are a few options at center, not many, but there are some. Mike Pouncey, the brother of Pittsburgh Steelers Maurkice Pouncey, made the switch from guard to center last season. He had some troubles with snapping the ball at the beginning of the year, but he rectified those issues. He’s probably the most athletic interior linemen in the draft. Some feel he is best suited at guard, but I think he could play either position, and play them well.
Penn State center, Stefen Wisniewski, the nephew of Hall of Famer, Steve Wisniewski, has the bloodlines and skill to be a day one starter. I look for him to be the first or second center taken off the board.
A guy not many people are talking about is Florida State center, Rodney Hudson. I’m not sure if the Chiefs want to stick with a light and athletic center, but if they do, Hudson is the guy. He shows excellent technique and awareness. His size is similar to Casey Weigmann, and could very well be there in the 3rd round.
PA: Lastly, do you think the talent is there for Pioi to pull a rabbit out of his hat to find a starting center, WR and NT in this draft?
LM:If anyone can do it, it’s Scott Pioli. Last year the Chiefs amazed us all and came away with 5 players that either started or contributed heavily throughout the 2010 season. If Haley and Pioli decide to fill the holes at WR, NT, and C, it would have to be done in the early rounds. This draft isn’t as deep as last years, but it can be done.
That is all for now. I’d like to thank Larry for taking the time to stop by and talk to us. We’ll talk to him again as the draft gets closer and we may even see if he’ll stop by to field some of your questions. For more, including mock drafts, big boards and scouting reports head over to Larry’s site With The First Pick.