Why the Chiefs should avoid skill position players in 2020 NFL Draft

Tempting as it may be to throw a Molotov cocktail into Andy Reid’s boiling offensive cauldron, the Chiefs must pause before adding another WR or RB.

As the Kansas City Chiefs are learning, it’s a quiet place to try to draft when you’re picking 32nd overall. Such is life when you are the defending Super Bowl Champions. The good news for Kansas City is, there aren’t a lot of glaring holes in the roster. Much has been said about the team’s impressive retention in its effort to hashtag-run-it-back in 2020, but when you’re poised to select players that will become building blocks under your 24-year-old cornerstone quarterback, you still have to get it right.

On Monday, a report from SI’s Peter King surfaced, stating that the Chiefs could pursue Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III if he slips in the draft. And while even the hint of adding an athlete the caliber of Ruggs might have raised your eyebrow, the fact is that it should go without saying that Andy Reid might want to pursue a receiver with sub-4.3 speed. And with a surplus of talent at the position in this year’s class, it’s possible to imagine a scenario where one or two of the top receivers fall early, while one by one, NFL team mutter to themselves, “why take him here when we could still get great value at the position in the next round?”

This is where the temptation will be strong for the Chiefs. After the three elite pass catchers (Ruggs, CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy, each of whom should be gone halfway through the first round), there is another tier of excellent receivers that could begin to drop in the mid-to-late first round – or they might not. With the strength of this elite offense being its speedy passing game, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and pass catchers Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, of course there’s a great argument to be made for the Chiefs to draft a wide receiver early in this year’s draft.

On top of that, there is plenty of disagreement among Chiefs faithful as to whether the team should be in the market for a new running back. Kansas City visibly lacked a go-to back during the 2019 regular season, instead going with an inexpensive committee approach that, when it was all said and done, paid back underwhelming dividends – and ultimately resulted in Week 1 starter Damien Williams recovering the reins just in time for the playoff run. Though the Never-RB crowd has a valid point, there’s an equally cogent perspective from the Best-Player-Available crowd that cannot be ignored.

Whether it’s your own intricately devised blueprint, or simply an “Oh, screw it” approach, the fact is, the football fan deep within many of Chiefs Kingdom is enthralled at the tantalizing premise of seeing the world’s best passer slinging it to Hill, Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and acquiring yet another robust young steed to hand off and throw to.

And there’s even actual, fiscal logic to the notion of restocking the offense. Williams, Watkins and DeMarcus Robinson’s contracts will expire next spring. Despite good numbers on the roster, running back depth remains a question mark – and the Chiefs will likely be looking for a bigger receiver that can beat press man in 2021. Why not add LSU’s Justin Jefferson or Georgia’s D’Andre Swift to the mix, or even LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Clemson’s Tee Higgins in Round 2?

That is where the madness must stop.

It might make sense on paper to just outscore everyone, but didn’t we try that in 2018? Tempting as it may be to throw a Molotov cocktail into Andy Reid’s boiling offensive cauldron, we must pause. Drafting a skill player at #32 overall might keep butts in the seats, but no one can deny the improvement that the Chiefs made in the last 12 months as they made efforts to fortify the defense.

Consider that Chiefs brass won’t have to sell very hard to convince free agent receivers and running backs to come and play with Mahomes. The Chiefs have the luxury of building their defense primarily through the draft and never having to worry about having to roll the dice on elite skill players again. In offseasons when there is a hole on the Chiefs’ depth chart, the top backs and receivers will put Kansas City on or near the top of their list.

As much as we might drool over the prospect of adding Edwards-Helaire or Ohio State’s JK Dobbins, Baylor’s Denzel Mims or TCU’s Jalen Reagor, and convince ourselves that the Chiefs “need” these flashy guys (and let’s face it, each of those guys would of course be very exciting in a Chiefs uniform), it is much more responsible of the Chiefs to continue to draft value and then pay for need in free agency. Right now, the biggest value for the Kansas City Chiefs involves either protecting Patrick Mahomes or stopping the other team.

Here’s a subsequent question that may stem from this approach. What about third-day picks? Those seem to make even less sense than an early pick, for a skill player. Swift in the first round would probably be the starter, but what if Kansas City drafts a running back in the fifth round? Is there really value there? The Chiefs currently employ Damien and Darrel Williams, DeAndre Washington, Darwin Thompson, Elijah McGuire, and Mike Weber. What’s a fifth round running back going to contribute?

The same could be said for a late-round receiver. The Chiefs WR room is stocked from top to bottom, because after Robinson at WR4, the group also boasts Byron Pringle, Joe Fortson, Felton Davis, and Gehrig Dieter. It is difficult to imagine a third-day receiver carving out a role among that bunch.

The winning approach for the Chiefs this week: Just say no to backs and receivers. While Veach and Reid may be teased by the much-lauded receiver crop, or a potential star runner that they could put next to Mahomes in the backfield, they must have the temerity to solidify their defense and offensive line instead.

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