Chiefs’ Next-Gen: First Class


When last we spoke, I predicted the Kansas City Chiefs would select Eric Fisher with the #1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. It should be noted that my prediction came before the wave of national reports that the Chiefs would take Fisher with their top draft choice. Before those reports began surfacing on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, most of the talking heads and draftniks had the Chiefs linked to Luke Joeckel. I hate to gloat, but I made one bad prediction after another for the 2012 season. Cut me some slack here.

Now that the studio audience is done applauding, let’s look at the 2013 draft class:

1 (1): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
3 (63): Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
3 (96): Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
4 (99): Nico Johnson, LB, Alabama
5 (134): Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
6 (170): Eric Kush, C, California (PA)
6 (204): Braden Wilson, FB, Kansas State
7 (207): Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton

Here are the most notable undrafted free agents the Chiefs agreed to terms with:

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Brad Madison, DE, Missouri
Rob Lohr, DT, Vanderbilt

I’m pleased with what the organization did over the weekend, but here’s what the national talking heads are saying about the Chiefs’ 2013 NFL Draft class:

Nate Davis, USA Today

"Kansas City Chiefs: Hard to argue with T Eric Fisher at the top, nor the trade of their second-round pick for QB Alex Smith. Fourth-round RB Knile Davis could more effectively assume the battering ram role behind Jamaal Charles after vets Thomas Jones and Peyton Hillis struggled in recent seasons. Former Alabama LB Nico Johnson (Round 4) might start, and Round 7 pass rusher Mike Catapano of Princeton is a developmental prospect to monitor. Grade: A-"

Chris Burke,

"Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs could not go wrong choosing between OT Eric Fisher and Joeckel at No. 1. They might have gone wrong after that, depending on how well TE Travis Kelce walks the straight and narrow or when RB Knile Davis can contribute. CB Sanders Commings could win playing time, and I actually think seventh-round pick DE Mike Catapano will stick on this roster. Grade: B"

Alex Marvez,

"Kansas City Chiefs: In the spirit of the Peyton Manning-Ryan Leaf and Drew Bledsoe-Rick Mirer debates, history will judge whether the Chiefs made the right call snubbing Texas A&M’s tackle Luke Joeckel to nab Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher with the draft’s top overall pick. Andy Reid doesn’t have a history of using big running backs, which makes his third-round selection of 227-pound Knile Davis from Arkansas so curious. Grade: B"

Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange/

"Kansas City Chiefs: A smooth pass-protector and a more physical run-blocker than Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher provides the Chiefs with a physical presence and insurance in case the club elects to trade franchised left tackle Branden Albert. While Fisher is safe, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Knile Davis are definite gambles on upside, though each could pay off significantly. Of the Chiefs’ third-day picks, I like the physicality and size of defensive back Sanders Commings and linebacker Nico Johnson. This is a solid class, overall, but, frankly, I would’ve taken Joeckel with the first pick and thought that the Chiefs gambled too much on upside throughout much of the rest of their draft. Grade: C"

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

"Kansas City Chiefs: They couldn’t miss on can’t-miss Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher first overall, but otherwise, what Andy Reid and John Dorsey did was underwhelming. Overrated Arkansas running back Knile Davis was a wasted third-rounder. It wasn’t exactly a “worst to playoffs” weekend for the Chiefs. Grade: C-"

The full staff here at AA will be doing player evaluations throughout the week, but I’d like to talk about the class as a whole.

These eight players will be the foundation the new regime builds its legacy on. The first draft class for this administration is key to the future success (or failure) of this franchise. Look no further than the 2009 draft class and the impact it had on Scott Pioli’s failed regime. Only two of the players drafted in 2009 are still on the roster (Tyson Jackson and Ryan Succop). It can be argued that only one of those two is in good standing (Succop).

John Dorsey is in the same position his precedessor was in four years ago. He’s writing his own redemption song for a football team that went 2-14 in 2012 (like Carl Peterson’s Chiefs in 2008). Pioli also had a Top 5 draft pick when he came on board. The pick was used to take the much-maligned Tyson Jackson 3rd overall. Given everything that’s happened with Branden Albert, Dorsey can’t afford to miss on Eric Fisher like Pioli did with Jackson. Neither can he have six of the other members of his first class wash out of the organization (and in some cases the NFL) in just four years.

A successful launch of the new administration will require drafted players to live up to or exceed their draft expectations. I suspect that Eric Fisher and Nico Johnson will be Day 1 starters in Kansas City. In time, I think it’s possible that three more of the 2013 draftees could join the first team. Ideally, that will come through winning their individual starting jobs outright and through producing on the football field.

In the past, a lack of capable competition helped underacheiving players win starting roles by default. That should change under John Dorsey and Andy Reid. If that can happen, this organization has a future to look forward to. A failed draft class will lead to excess dead money and the inevitable rebuild.

I’m sure no one in Chiefs Kingdom wants to see a re-run of the last episode in Kansas City. Time will tell how well the Chiefs did this past weekend with the 2013 NFL Draft. These young players have a long road ahead of them. In the meantime, the Chiefs will host a three-day rookie mini-camp on May 10-11-12. Rumble, young men, rumble!

How do you feel about the Chiefs’ draft picks? Use the comment section below to weigh in.

Until next time, Addicts!