The Kansas City Chiefs 2020 NFL Draft Class has received mixed reviews over the last week. One had the class ranking in the bottom third of the NFL.
Over the past week, national NFL analysts have been grading every draft class. Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr of NFL.com put out their grades on each draft class and ranked them on Friday evening. In their rankings, the Kansas City Chiefs draft class ranked 24th in the NFL.
Now, most of you might be thinking this would be about the organization picking a running back in the first round. Guess again, because that was the one selection that they did like by Kansas City.
There might not have been a better fit in the draft than Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs. Quibble with taking a running back in the first round if you’d like, but Andy Reid has his new Brian Westbrook (or, gulp, perhaps an even better version of the former All-Pro). CEH is the dynamo K.C. didn’t technically need (yes, the offense was already great) but will certainly get the most out of.
If you kept up with social media over draft weekend, there are several things that you would have seen. There was a massive split on the first-round selection of LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Several fans made their opinions known about why a team is making a mistake taking a running back in the first round. On the other side of the argument, the Chiefs did a great job of keeping their core intact this offseason, allowing them to make a luxury pick at the end of the first round.
Outside of the desire for a cornerback on day two, most Chiefs fans were happy with the selections in the second and third rounds. Finding an athletic linebacker that can play in coverage was on everyone’s wish list. While offensive tackle wasn’t a pressing need, we saw what happened when an injury occurs after Eric Fisher was out for a length of time. Lucas Niang looks to be a steal in the third round at this point, and he should contribute inside during his rookie season and develop into a longtime protector of Patrick Mahomes at tackle.
The Chiefs finally grabbed a cornerback in round four, selecting L’Jarius Sneed out of Louisiana Tech. On top of that, they traded back into the seventh round to secure Tulane cornerback Thakarius Keyes. We can all agree that our confidence would be higher if Kansas City had picked a cornerback earlier in day one or two. However, Sneed brings physicality at the line of scrimmage along with elite speed and excellent ball skills.
So what made the two analysts give the Chiefs a C+ grade that ranked them 24th in the NFL?
We didn’t love anything else about what the Chiefs did, but that’s not really surprising considering their flexibility was pretty limited, as they entered the draft tied for the fewest selections in the league (five). There’s a case to be made that they should have added a true corner earlier than Round 7, but that might be where Sneed, a safety last season at Louisiana Tech, ends up playing. Gay was one of the stars of the NFL Scouting Combine, but will he be able to put it all together and challenge for a spot atop the depth chart next season? Niang is coming off November hip surgery, but he has the tools to become a starter. On the other hand, seeing Danna, who wasn’t considered a lock to be drafted, go in Round 5 was a surprise.
Cornerback is concerning given the lack of depth and experience behind Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward. Without Kendall Fuller on the roster, who will play the slot opposite of Tyrann Mathieu? What if an injury occurs or suspension comes down along the boundary? Adding a cornerback that is ready Week 1 to play a vital role in the defense remains a need.
Moving on to the part about Willie Gay Jr. might have been the part that shocks most of you. While there is something to be said about Gay’s experience or lack thereof in college, this man is an immediate impact and day one starter. Linebackers that defensive coordinator can rely on in pass coverage has been a weakness ever since Derrick Johnson left Kansas City.
Willie Gay Jr. is a downhill, physical linebacker that brings the thunder. He plays excellent in space and can cover running backs coming out of the backfield. That is something the team struggled with last year. Adding a linebacker that can contribute on all three downs at pick 63 seems like an ace of a selection.
To say that Lucas Niang “has the tools to become a starter” but have that pick under the selections they didn’t like is a bit confusing. After all, isn’t that what we expect from third-round selections? If we are expecting a third-round pick to be an immediate starter and one of the best at the position, then we are not setting realistic expectations. If you can get an offensive tackle that has a tremendous upside with a few improvements with the last pick in the third round, you should be ecstatic.
Most of the grade likely had to do with the Chiefs not selecting a cornerback until the fourth-round. However, adding a three-down linebacker at the end of the second round that will contribute immediately and the tackle of the future to protect Mahomes seem like great picks as well. If the Chiefs felt that those players ranked higher on their boards than the cornerbacks that were sitting there at the time, they picked the best player available by their board. That’s what we all want, right? We don’t want to be sitting here complaining about the team reaching for a selection in a couple of years because it was a team need.
Clearly, the Chiefs are confident in the cornerbacks they have on the roster. Given Spagnuolo’s scheme, which utilizes its safeties to take away responsibilities from the cornerback position, it makes some sense. The priority at Arrowhead Stadium should be working out longterm contracts with Chris Jones and Patrick Mahomes. Even if they can secure both of those players to new deals, there are ways the organization can scrape up some money for a proven veteran on a one-year deal.
So how do you feel about this draft class? Do you think that the Chiefs were given a good grade?