Why 2017 is an important draft for the Kansas City Chiefs
It’s still not quite time for me to dive headlong into which prospects the Chiefs should be courting over the next eight weeks, but I am confident that the clock’s running out on a few highly-regarded players on Kansas City’s depth chart. Make no mistake, Kansas City’s cupboards aren’t completely empty. There’s young talent at each of the aforementioned positions. Darrin Reaves has flashed in past pre-seasons, Ramik Wilson and Justin March have both acquitted themselves as serviceable inside linebackers and Dee Ford appears to have turned the corner on the outside.
The question facing the Chiefs is whether or not these players can provide a comparable level of service time and quality play. Attrition is an inescapable reality of the NFL. It’s how you manage it that matters. The Chiefs clearly weren’t prepared for the effect the departure of Sean Smith would have on their secondary. Steven Nelson, while improved, didn’t assert himself as a starter opposite of Marcus Peters. Phillip Gaines spent the majority of the 2016 campaign battling injuries. Terrance Mitchell eventually emerged and played excellent football in spots, but it’s far too early to tell if he’s the long-term answer as Kansas City’s other starter at cornerback.
The team’s better prepared at a position like inside linebacker, where they have options in young talents like March and Wilson. Neither has been a standout to date, but both have flashed the ability to play competent football in the middle of the defense. Despite a small sample size, the Chiefs also saw signs of promise with special teams standout D.J. Alexander (see: this year’s Pro Bowl). I suspect they’ll still invest a draft pick at the position, but it demonstrates they can prepare themselves for the future with some careful planning and scouting.