[This post can be best understood while listening to “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gee’s. So. right-click on the link, open in another tab, start the song, then come back here for some good news.]
Now that was not a week that gives you the warm fuzzies, and that includes this past weekend. However, even with the Chiefs opponents signing big names, for me the most disconcerting moment in this process was… losing Quintin Demps. I don’t know why for sure but his leaving did seal the deal on 95% of last year’s stellar returners not doing as hoped: returning to return.
So, what comes next in this AFC arms race? I haven’t really lost faith in GM John Dorsey or HC Andy Reid yet because they say they have a plan and that plan is majorly based on building through the draft. With the pluses and minuses of the free agency period thus far… let’s move on and see if we can build a draft plan that may resemble much of what R&D (Reid & Dorsey) hope to achieve in May’s three day event.
I don’t think there are many Chiefs fans out there who are kidding themselves right now because the Denver Broncos were not only the toast of the AFC last season, they have likely done the most to improve themselves this off season. However, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of NFL fans nominating the New England Patriots free agency offseason for an Oscar as well. Since the Broncos and the Chiefs live in the same AFC West neighborhood, let’s take a look at the new match-ups the Chiefs face when they will be specifically playing the Broncos in 2014.
DeMarcus Ware vs. Eric Fisher
Eric Fisher is an ascending player while DeMarcus Ware is descending. The question is, how much has each — progressed or regressed — to this point? Ware only had 6 sacks last season and that his talents are somewhat fading. Cowboys line-mate Jason Hatcher had more sacks than he did but you can be sure that Ware was the one being doubled and in Denver it’ll be Von Miller. On the other hand, Ware will be replacing Shaun Phillips who had a very good year with 10 sacks and that’s with Von Miller out for much of the year. The question to be answered here is, do the Chiefs roll FB Anthony Sherman to help with Von Miller or with DeMarcus Ware. Ware had 40 combined tackles in 2013 which tied him for 62nd in the league among all defensive linemen. In fact, 4 Dallas D. linemen had more tackles than Ware and two had more sacks.
I see Eric Fisher flourishing in year two, as I see all KC Offensive linemen flourishing. What there is left of them. So, the Chiefs may need up to two interior linemen in this draft. At least one.
The Broncos Receivers vs. the Chiefs Defensive Backs (with Manning at QB)
I don’t think Emmanuel Sanders will be quite as good as Eric Decker but, group as a whole should be just as formidable as in 2013. The Chiefs defensive backfield should be better. It’s addition by subtraction. Take away Dunta Robinson and Kendrick Lewis and the backfield is instantly better. However, it’s going to take an infusion of youth to help this group step up and stand up to the Broncos receivers. The Chiefs will need to draft another CB who can step in right away and help.
The Chiefs Receivers vs. the Broncos Defensive Backs
Trading Aqib Talib for Champ Bailey? At 34, Bailey was still playing at a high level and I don’t see Talib as a great upgrade. He’s not a shutdown corner like Revis in his prime and WR Dwayne Bowe should do fine against him. However, T.J. Ward was a Pro Bowl selection in 2013 and should be an upgrade and help to shut down the long ball. Donnie Avery was a disappointment in 2013 and can’t be counted upon to perform in 2014 although you can bet R&D will be using him, as if. The Chiefs will need at least one more WR and he should be someone who can stretch the field like Avery did early on last year. And of course, he must have good hands.
Since the Chiefs were once in the “TE” Brandon Pettigrew lottery it’s safe to assume the Chiefs still see themselves as needing a TE. So, if a good TE is available in the draft, the Chiefs will get one.
We can’t assume that mentioning the name “Dave Toub” is going to instantly win the PR, KR battles. So, if a punt returner is available, the Chiefs should get him. Knile Davis can replace Quintin Demps on kickoffs and has shown that he should do well. However, I’m not sold on Weston Dressler yet so, if a punt returner is there, the Chiefs need to draft him.
This still leaves ILB and FS as positions of need to be filled at some point in the Chiefs drafting future as well. Plus, the Chiefs need to pick up another player who can penetrate and get to the QB.
So, let’s review. The Chiefs need: an OL, a CB, a WR, a TE, a PR, KR, ILB and FS. And as far as the order of preference goes, I’d switch the CB and the WR and the FS needs to move ahead of the TE.
Alright, let’s take a look at some mock draft outcomes. As mentioned before, many AA writers are using the Fanspeak mock draft simulator. Plug in the team you are drafting for and they do the rest.
Fanspeak now has three different databases to pick from (ranking systems). So, I did two drafts in each database. Those databases include:
1. Fanspeak database
2. Walter Football database
3. Optimum Scouting database
In the first mock I break down each player’s skills but, the last six mock’s are simply used as a checklist to show most of the Chiefs needs could be met in this draft, under many different scenarios. Here’s my first mock, while attempting to solve all the draft needs listed above.
1st- WR Marqise Lee, USC
Having Marqise Lee to play with would be Andy Reid’s biggest offseason present to open, which he would do with great frequency throughout the coming season as well.
If Lee had come out the previous season he likely would have been a top ten pick. Changes in college coaches, schemes and QBs made his 2013 difficult and dropped his rank a bit to the delight of Chiefs fans. Still, Marqise Lee has the ability to create his own space and will immediately posses the best hands of any WR on the Chiefs roster.
If Bowe and Alex Smith continue to develop their connection and… if Donnie Avery can learn to hold onto the ball and… if Weston Dressler makes an impact… along with Lee the Chief could have one of the most dynamic receiving corps in the NFL.
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3rd- OT/OG Morgan Moses, Virginia
Earlier in the year I had Morgan Moses (#78 pictured to the right) ranked much higher. However, I’ve heard that this draft is so deep in multiple positions that a 3rd rounder could be found in the 5th round. At 6-6 and 314 pounds Morgan Moses is an imposing fellow. I see no reason why he can’t catch on and be a starter by opening day at one of the Guard positions for the Chiefs. He’s an excellent drive blocker and run blocker and Jamaal Charles should appreciate his abilities to create space within the interior of the defense.
"“Like Clady, Morgan enters the draft with plus movement skills for his size, but comes with many of the same questions that Clady did in terms of his ability to generate power enough to move defenders consistently as a run-blocker. If he can improve in this area, Moses has the upside to be a top-notch blind-side protector at the next level, as Clady has become.” ~ Derek Stephens and Dane Brugler"
If Moses lives up to his potential, the Chiefs could someday soon have another Virginia LT protecting their QBs back side.
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4th- CB/FS Phillip Gaines, Rice
Phillip Gaines ran one of the fastest times in the 40 at the combine at 4.30. His ball skills are top notch and if he doesn’t start right away for the Chiefs they might want to see if his speed and ball hawking skills are suitable at Safety because he’s also a big hitter.
Ian Wharton of the Bleacher Report has the following points to make about Gaines,
"Great height, weight and arm length. He’s physically ready to play in the NFL right now, needing very little weight or conditioning.Solid technical skills beginning with his pre-snap stance, which is low and balanced. He keeps his eyes in the backfield while smoothly backpedaling.Mirrors receivers well when playing on-man coverage. His quick feet help his lateral quickness when changing directions.Has fluid hips, especially for a bigger cornerback, and that allows him to play in a variety of coverages. He really shone in Cover 3, where he keeps his eyes on the quarterback and controls his chunk of the field very well.Disguises his coverage well through his movements and waiting until the last second to either cover the underneath route in Cover 2 or go deep in Cover 3.Times his jumps very well when attempting to intercept passes.Highly productive player that limited opposing receivers only 13 catches on 40 targets in 2013."
At 6 feet tall and 195 pounds he may need to bulk up a bit for Safety but watch his highlight tape and you’ll see his skill right away.
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5th- RB/PR De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
In the 5th round you’ll notice I’ve chosen a running back. However, 5’9” and 175 lb De’Anthony Thomas is not merely a running back, he’s the 45 rpm Dexter McCluster played at 78 rpms and around Oregon he was referred to as “The Black Mamba” because his kind of speed strikes — and leaves you paralyzed. The real reason I chose Thomas in the 5th is to primarily serve as a punt returner. However, he can also serve as a dynamic change of pace back and slot receiver. One little caveat to taking the Black Mamba in the 5th round is, that the Denver Broncos have checked a lot of needs off their list and with Trindon Holliday making the rounds as a free agent (he’s reported to have signed with the N.Y. Giants), it would be another sad blow if they were to step up in the fourth round and take De’Anthony Thomas. You won’t want to miss his video. Although you might have to slow it down so you can actually see him.
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Colt Lyerla could be a bit of a project. These last two are the kinds of players you “might” want to seek in the later rounds. Some other ranking services have him going much later and even undrafted. Lyerla dropped out of Oregon when the team was ranked #1 in the nation and for no other reason than to say he wanted to devote his energy full time to football and making it to the NFL. IOW… school was not his thing. I can understand that. If you’d asked me after my freshman year of college, I’d have said exactly the same thing. However, Lyerla is a physical beast and if he can pick up the playbook, would be an incredible value in the sixth round. At 6’4” and 242, Lyerla can jump 40” straight up and 10’-10” standing long jump with a 4.47 unofficial 40 yard dash time. BTW… that’s Superman-fast for a man that big. Some have compared him to Aaron Hernandez… but obviously his off field challenges are nothing like Mr. Hernandez’ heinous debacle. Take a peek and you’ll see why some compare him… for good reasons.
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Max Bullough is a bulldog of a middle linebacker. At 6’4” and 250 he’s also listed as one who could play OLB. Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State’s defensive coordinator calls Bullough a “computer on the field” as Bullough calls all the defensive plays. However, for some reason, not divulged to the public, Max Bullough was suspended for team reasons just before the Rose Bowl. Bullough then showed up to the East West Shrine game at 265 pounds having gained 15 extra pounds in less than a 3 week period. However, Bullough has a grandfather, father, two uncles who all played for Michigan State and his younger brother was a redshirt freshman last season. Plus, he has the right supports in place from family and friends. Bullough’s ranking is all over the place according to scouts around the league but, his hard nosed play and passionate speeches made him a favorite for the masses in East Lansing. Max Bullough is also a National Academic Scholar so, picking up the playbook should be a breeze.
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Alright, let’s use a checklist to see how we did on the needs.
An OL? Check.
A CB? Check.
A WR? Check.
A TE? Check.
A PR? Check.
A KR? No… but we’ll leave it to Knile Davis.
An ILB? Check.
And a FS? Check.
Penetrator? See Zach Kerr below.
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Desmond Bailey has a piece he wrote for ChiefsSpin.com called, “Chiefs Should’nt Sleep On DT Zach Kerr” inwhich he points out that the small school of Delaware has an awesome DL penetrator who could be had as an undrafted free agent. NFLDraftScout.com has Kerr rated as the 304th best prospect in this year’s draft. But, Kerr is an unknown diamond in the rough. Zach Kerr reminds me of Aaron Donald with Warren Sapp’s mouth and motor… except Kerr is a tiny bit bigger than both at 6-2, 323.
Kerr has lateral quickness and a swim move that he’ll need to perfect along with adding some other moves to his arsenal at the next level but his skills make him plug-and-play ready now for the NFL game. Kerr reads plays well from the outset. Once he’s determined where the play is going he is relentless until he’s arrives at his target. His passion for the game and ability to make plays should immediately endear him to his teammates and he could work well along with Dontari Poe on passing downs by sliding Poe to DE and Kerr to NT because Kerr has the moves that can get him upfield faster than Poe has shown so far. Here’s a highlight tape of Zach Kerr.
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The moral of the story is… the Chiefs can rebuild through the draft and it doesn’t have to take 5 years to do it. No, it may not be done in one season either but with some adept moves, a whole lot can be accomplished in this draft alone.
I performed six other mock drafts in preparation for this draft so, I’m listing all the other drafts below to show that in each case, this draft is so deep, that a major portion of the Chiefs needs can be met in almost every, and any, case.
This one is based upon the Optimum Football database (made at Fanspeak).
The next three were made using the Walter Football database (at Fanspeak).
The last two mock drafts were made using the Fanspeak database (at Fanspeak).
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Following the 2013 draft, I recall both John Dorsey and especially Andy Reid looking like they were the the cat who’d just swallowed the proverbial canary. There’s a good chance we’ll see that look on their faces after this draft too.
I said before, and I’ll reiterate, my first choice in the draft is for the Chiefs to trade out of their first pick in order to pick up extra selections. However, most teams will want to do that so, who are the Chiefs going to trade with, in a draft in which most everyone wants more picks?
Don’t think this draft is that deep? One good way to tell if a draft is deep is to look at the top of the draft and see how many “elite-of-the-elite” players there are available. In the 2012 draft, if you were to look at the top 11 players (so you could include Dontari Poe) you would find approximately 4 out of 11 elite of the elite types (I’m not counting RG III yet). Now, we won’t know for some time whether or not the 2014 prospects will scale the heights but it looks like there are about 8 or 9 out of the top eleven (and I’m counting on at least one in three QBs making it there).
So, Addict fans, did I bring you out of your First Week of Free Agency depression? Ha! I didn’t think so. Oh well, at least you now know that this draft is going to be epic.
Honestly, you can leave the Prozac at home. The Chiefs are in good shape and doing just fine.