NFL Draft grades: Kansas City Chiefs earn solid marks for rookie class

With the 2020 NFL Draft in the books, the national media has weighed in with draft grades for the Kansas City Chiefs rookie class.

With the 2020 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, every media outlet has gone through the exercise of releasing their instant draft grades.

The Kansas City Chiefs finished with one of the least polarizing draft grades among any of the 32 teams. Almost every publication agrees that first round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is going to be a good player for Kansas City, but  many analysts wonder about the value of the selection as the final pick in Round 1.

Here’s a glance at how some of the most popular outlets perceive the Chiefs’ haul.

Andy Benoit at Sports Illustrated was complimentary of the Chiefs as reigning Super Bowl Champions, observing that, even though he was not too high on the value K.C. got by choosing a running back in the first round, “You don’t get the 32nd pick without doing a few things right as a franchise.”

Benoit expects second round linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. to play all three downs very soon, and for third round OL Lucas Niang to serve as a reserve tackle in 2020 (though it’s worth noting that the Chiefs have said Niang could play guard in his rookie year).

Grade: C+

Mike Renner from Pro Football Focus likes Edwards-Helaire, but is concerned about what he calls “sub-optimal decision-making.” If Andy Reid feels like he needs to call more running plays because he has a first round pick at running back, that will surprise us. He knows exactly how to use a player like Edwards-Helaire, because he used Brian Westbrook so efficiently in Philadelphia. Granted, Westbrook wasn’t a first-rounder, but we’re not concerned about any overuse of Edwards-Helaire. Westbrook exceeded 20 carries just 11 times in his Eagles career. Reid has Patrick Mahomes, and he’s not going to stray from the passing game.

Renner likes Gay a lot, complimenting his “Isaiah Simmons levels of freaky” athleticism. PFF had Gay 39th overall on their board, so they liked the Chiefs’ value at pick 63.

Grade: B-

Chad Reuter at NFL.com liked the Chiefs draft from top to bottom. He particularly liked the first round pick and expects Edwards-Helaire to serve a prominent role as Reid’s all-purpose back.

Grade: B+

Much has been made about choosing running backs in the first round, but Will Brinson at CBS tweeted this about Reid’s ability to draft skill players:

Adam Teicher at ESPN fears that “it is unlikely [Edwards-Helaire] will ever be a regular featured back in the mold of Jamaal Charles or Kareem Hunt.” Teicher went on to say that the rookie running back should carve out a role as a third-down back, but won’t be able to take much of a pounding at 5’7″ and 207 lbs. That’s a questionable analysis, considering that Charles weighed eight pounds less as a pro than Edwards-Helaire on draft day, while Hunt weighs just nine pounds more than the newest Chiefs back.

Teicher likes the Gay pick, and ascertains that Niang may have to sit behind starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz for a few years. He observes that the Chiefs will “need as many good, young players on relatively inexpensive contracts as they can get” with Mahomes’ extension looming, and also stresses that the speed and athleticism of defensive backs L’Jarius Sneed and Thakarius “BoPete” Keyes will be very important, given the way the Raiders and Broncos each selected burners at WR in this draft (Henry Ruggs III and KJ Hamler, respectively).

Chris Simms at Pro Football Talk had this to say about the Chiefs’ first pick, and he didn’t even think to mention second-year receiver Mecole Hardman.

As with any class, time will tell, but in this case, the Chiefs have several players that will be able to fill specific roles and won’t have too much asked from them in the beginning of their careers, which is a big benefit when you consider what a short, tumultuous off-season this is going to be for rookies. What we know right now is that the team maximized its picks with six outstanding athletes that will each have a role in 2020 and beyond.

Next: Willie Gay Jr. film study shows Derrick Johnson, Deion Jones comps