2019 NFL Draft recap: Kansas City Chiefs add much needed depth

EAST LANSING, MI - AUGUST 31: Darwin Thompson #5 of the Utah State Aggies scores a fourth quarter touchdown while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on August 31, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 38-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - AUGUST 31: Darwin Thompson #5 of the Utah State Aggies scores a fourth quarter touchdown while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on August 31, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 38-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs concluded its 2019 draft season, drafting three offensive and three defensive players who add much depth and skill.

Throughout the past three days, the National Football League’s 32 NFL teams drafted a total of 254 players in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Kansas City Chiefs, without a first-round pick, drafted six of those players.

With three on offense and three on defense, an even split, the Chiefs were able to add depth throughout the roster and draft game changers that will almost certainly earn a starting role for the 2019 season.


WR Mecole Hardman, University of Georgia, 5’11”, 183 lbs

Draft Grade: B+

Hardman is an interesting player; versatility, laser speed, shifty and athletic are all words that describe what he brings to the table for the Chiefs. The fresh second rounder will need development, but it is nice to find a player that can be almost a plug-and-play returner, receiver and even running back. In an interview with Chiefs play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus, Hardman said that he is excited to play with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and will do whatever is asked of him.

According to Holthus, Hardman ran a 4.24 at one point, which is a blistering speed that would work fluidly in head coach Andy Reid’s offense. As wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s future with the Chiefs is uncertain, Hardman’s ability to start and make an impact for the Chiefs would make the selection all the better. It is interesting to note, however, that Reid said Hardman’s position on the draft board was not related to Hill’s situation. This means that they were likely going to add Hardman for much-needed depth with the departure of De’Anthony Thomas.

In his collegiate career at UGA, Hardman had 961 receiving yards on 60 receptions, with an average of 16.01 yards-per-reception; he also had 11 touchdowns. In addition, Hardman had 13 rush attempts for 97 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Hardman’s versatility and multi-dimensional style of play will make him a favorite of Reid’s.

RB Darwin Thompson, Utah State, 5’8″, 200 lbs

Draft Grade: B+

Thompson is yet another intriguing rookie for the Chiefs that adds depth to a running back corps that is still trying to find its core. Taken in the sixth round, Thompson is a rather small back but makes up for it with his shifty play. According to Pro Football Focus, Thompson had a #1 Elusive Rating in the NCAA with 176.6. Elusive Rating, in PFF’s words: “Our Elusive Rating metric is defined as distilling “the success and impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking in front of him by looking at how hard he was to bring down.”

Thompson was at least top-15 in categories including yards after contact (765), missed tackles per attempt (0.32), combined first down/touchdown percentage (34.0), and overall grade (85.2). 50.5% of Thompson’s plays were of 15 or more yards, which is superb considering he had 176 scrimmage plays, averaging 7.9 yards per play. While his sample size is small with only one year under his belt at Utah State, his 16 total touchdowns and 1395 total scrimmage yards in 13 games make his sixth-round selection a steal. Thompson will be joining running backs Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams, and James Williams in training camp this upcoming July.

OG Nick Allegretti, Illinois, 6’4″, 320 lbs

Draft Grade: B

Allegretti was taken in the seventh round of the draft, but with his talent, you wouldn’t know it. Statistically, Allegretti was spectacular with 0 sacks allowed in his last 15 games at Illinois. He also allowed 0 QB hits in the entirety of the 2018 season, he earned a PFF Pass Block grade of 90.3. That grade is second among FBS offensive guards in the 2019 Draft class to only #14 overall pick Chris Lindstrom.

Allegretti played both center and guard in college and was primarily listed as a center. The Chiefs decided to draft him as a guard, however, which is a position where the team lacks solid depth. He was also tied for first in Pass Blocking Efficiency (Per PFF) among Power 5 offensive guards in the 2019 draft class with a grade of 99.4. His Wonderlic score of 42 shows his intelligence, which will allow him to be a backup for numerous positions. Needless to say, Allegretti is a smart, skilled lineman who looks to find his role with the Chiefs in 2019.

Offensively, the Chiefs had some interesting picks that will surely have some sort of impact in the upcoming season. With an average grade of a B+, the franchise had a decent draft on the offensive side of the ball. In addition to draft picks, notable/impressive offensive undrafted free agent signings are running back James Williams, QB/TE/FB John Lovett, and QB Kyle Shurmur.


S Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 6’0″, 205 lbs

Draft Grade: A

Thornhill is an absolute ballhawk. The Chiefs’ defensive staff had Thornhill as the top-rated safety in the draft, with some mocks even having him go in the first round. The Chiefs managed to take him with one of the last picks of the second round at #63 overall, which is a great value for such a talented player.

With the addition of Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs’ safety corps just found its new dynamic duo. While he has a knack for locating the ball, the main concern with Thornhill was his inconsistent tackling. Perhaps Thornhill caught onto this memo because his career tackling grades, per PFF, increased more than 20 points (72.2 to 86.4) from 2016 to his final season, 2018. In 2016, he had 45 total tackles; in 2018, he had 98 total tackles with 4.5 tackles-for-loss. In his last three seasons at Virginia, Thornhill had 13 interceptions and 1.5 sacks. He also had a lone forced fumble in 2016.

With 26 passes defended, Thornhill isolated himself as a talented safety who seemed to always be around the ball. He ranked #14th in the Atlantic Coast Conference with his 26 career defended passes. His 141 interception return yards were the most in the ACC in the 2018 season. Thornhill and Mathieu will likely be a dominant force together, with the veteran guiding the rookie and helping him develop throughout the offseason and regular season.

DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois, 6’0″, 318 lbs

Draft Grade: A+

First and foremost, it is important to note that Saunders has a very booming personality. In this regard, the closest comparison is Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones. Jones is known for his ecstatic demeanor and is always seen dancing or skipping around on the field or hyping the stadium up. Needless to say, Jones is the heart of the defense and he’s about to get a new best friend (who is also very athletic).

In his final collegiate season, Saunders had 72 total tackles—yes, 72!—which is almost unheard of for a defensive lineman. His closest comparison was “the Missouri Valley Conference’s Aaron Donald”. When a player is even mentioned in the same sentence as Donald, the star defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams, the former must be pretty special. Such is the case with Saunders, who cashed in not only on defense but offense as well.

How would someone stop something like this? A 320-pound missile coming at you at this speed would cause most to kindly step out of the big man’s way. He moves so quickly that he could almost be a tight end. Saunders’ athleticism and versatility make him one of the top value picks in the draft. If he can translate whatever hype is generated to the field, the Chiefs have found their new stuffer.

CB Rashad Fenton, South Carolina, 5’11”, 193 lbs

Draft Grade: C+

In his four years at South Carolina, Fenton had 2,380 snaps with an average of 595 snaps per season. While he is certainly not a starter and may not have a major role for the Chiefs heading into the season, he does provide nice depth for a cornerback corps that struggled in the 2018 season. 2018 could be considered a breakout year for Fenton, in which he had 39 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown and 2 passes defended.

He allowed 32-of-54 receptions (59.3% catch rate), with an opposing passer rating of 65.3. His three interceptions led his team at South Carolina. With a 40-yard dash time of 4.52 seconds, he does not have the speed to keep up with speedsters, but could essentially be an underdeveloped Steven Nelson—the closest comparison. With some more development, Fenton could potentially find his way into having a sizeable role in the Chiefs’ rotation.

Defensively, the Chiefs drafted quite well in the earlier rounds, with a bit of a drop in the sixth round when they drafted Fenton. Fenton could still end up being a decent player for the Chiefs regardless of what role he may play, but that is yet to be determined. In addition to the early gold mine that the Chiefs found defensively, they were also able to land some undrafted free agents who were able to slip to them. Notable defensive UDFA’s include cornerback Mark Fields, CB Dakari Monroe, LB Darius Harris, and LB Gary Johnson.

Final Grade: B

The overall draft grade throughout this article for the Chiefs is a solid B. For not having a first-round pick, that is a rather nice grade. If it were to include UDFA’s, the grade could possibly rise to a B+ as additions like James Williams and Mark Field highlight a talented haul.

While depth is yet to be determined for the Chiefs at a number of positions, the rookies—both drafted and some signed as free agents—should find their way on the Chiefs’ roster with no problem.