Kansas City Chiefs: Is Cody Whitehair worth a first round pick?

Sep 18, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats offensive linesman Cody Whitehair (55) waits for the snap of the ball during a 20-14 loss to the Auburn Tigers at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats offensive linesman Cody Whitehair (55) waits for the snap of the ball during a 20-14 loss to the Auburn Tigers at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 18, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats offensive linesman Cody Whitehair (55) waits for the snap of the ball during a 20-14 loss to the Auburn Tigers at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats offensive linesman Cody Whitehair (55) waits for the snap of the ball during a 20-14 loss to the Auburn Tigers at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /

Let me start by saying that I’m going into writing this hoping to fall in love with Whitehair. He’s a local guy, he’s an offensive lineman and I’ve been preaching a better offensive line for years, and he’s known to be the kind of high effort and high character team leader that would fit great in Kansas City’s locker room. This feels like a match made in heaven on paper, but the Chiefs can’t afford to spend their first round pick on a guy just because it looks good on paper.

So what are other people saying about Whitehair?

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com says:

"With his combination of functional strength and body control, Whitehair might be one of the safest offensive linemen in the entire draft."

From the recently released draft guide by CBS’s Dane Bruglar:

"Whitehair is assignment sound and rarely makes mistakes with the quick punch and shuffle to stone rushers in pass protection, but he isn’t as effective as a run blocker and needs to develop a more physical mean streak."

Finally, from the NDT Scouting 2016 NFL Draft Prospectus by Kyle Crabbs:

"Whitehair wins with leverage, balance and firm hands; he would likely fit best into an offensive system featuring zone blocking concepts to allow him to utilize his balance and leverage to cross face and turn out defenders. Whitehair would be well served to continue to push for additional strength and power in a NFL conditioning program but I do believe he has the baseline amount of power and upper body strength to be successful."

Before I get to my own thoughts on Cody Whitehair let me share just a little more about what can’t be seen on game film. Every report you read on him raves about him as a person and locker room presence. This quote from Dane Bruglar’s draft guide may say it best:

"He left an indelible mark at Kansas State with his leadership, work ethic and high-level of play the last four years and boasts the professional make-up that will be welcomed in NFL locker rooms – does all the right things and endeared by coaches (Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder: “He has great respect from his teammates…the ability to guide and direct young people in the right direction”)."

So in the Chiefs locker room that already has a family type feel to it, Whitehair would be a perfect fit. That’s definitely a plus, but you don’t draft a guy in the first round for his leadership, you draft him because of his play on the field. I watched three of his games at draftbreakdown.com (Oklahoma, Baylor, and TCU). Here’s what I saw on tape.

Next: We looked at the tape...