KC Chiefs deserve high marks from regrade of 2016 NFL Draft

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 19, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 19, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The 2016 draft class was one of the more interesting draft classes in K.C. Chiefs history. The team was coming off a season in which they started 1-5. The team lacked coverage from the local media because of the poor start to the season while the Kansas City Royals had a memorable World Series run, winning their first World Series title in 30 years.

But the Chiefs rebounded and made a complete 180-degree turn. They eventually went on to win 10 straight games to finish the regular season with an 11-5 record. At the time, it was the franchise’s longest winning streak, surpassing the 9-0 starts in 2003 and 2013. The Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs, capturing their first postseason win in 22 years.

Now that the Chiefs had finally ended the postseason drought, it was now time to make the next big step. The 2016 draft gave the Chiefs the boost they needed to go further and eventually win a Super Bowl. Although they did not have a first-round pick, trading away the 28th overall selection to the San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs did come away with two Pro Bowlers in this draft.

Round 2 (37) – DE Chris Jones, Mississippi State

Grade: A

Chris Jones made a big impact in waning moments of Super Bowl 54. With the Chiefs surging after being down by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, Jones stepped up and was instrumental in helping the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl in 50 years. He swatted a pass and pressured 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo late in the game, which prevented the 49ers from scoring and helped the Chiefs get the ball back to eventually win the game.

In 2018, Jones finished third in the league in sacks with 15.5. He recorded a sack in 11 consecutive games, breaking an NFL record previously held by Broncos pass-rusher Simon Fletcher. Even after switching from a 3-4 defense early in his career under Bob Sutton as a defensive end to the 4-3 as a defensive tackle, Jones has continued to win battles against offensive linemen and find ways to pressure the quarterback.

Despite a slow start, collecting 8.5 sacks in his first two years, Jones has been a force to be reckoned with and is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL today.

Round 3 (74) – CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

Grade: F

There is not much to say about KeiVarae Russell’s stint in Kansas City. From the moment he was drafted through when he was waived, he was with the team for only four-and-a-half months. Russell struggled and failed to impress the coaching staff while being low on the team’s depth chart. He has played for five teams in five years. He never saw any playing time in 2019. The Chiefs historically have had good luck finding great talent in the third round. Unfortunately, they missed in 2016.

Round 4 (105) – G Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati

Grade: D

Parker Ehinger saw more playing time than most fourth-round picks early on, as he started four games in the first seven weeks for the Chiefs. Unfortunately, injuries have prevented Ehinger from reaching his potential. After seeing just six games in two years, the Chiefs traded him to the Dallas Cowboys for cornerback Charvarius Ward during the 2018 preseason. Since the trade, Ward has appeared in 43 games, all with Kansas City. Ehinger has been with four teams since the Chiefs traded him, playing in just two games.

Round 4 (106) – CB Eric Murray, Minnesota

Grade: C-

After being drafted as a cornerback, then-defensive coordinator Bob Sutton wanted to test Eric Murray at safety. The Chiefs had a crowded group of safeties with Eric Berry, Ron Parker and Dan Sorensen. Murray did not see much playing time on defense in 2016, spending most of his time on special teams. But after an injury forced Berry to miss 29 regular season games in 2017 and 2018, that opened the door for Murray to see some action.

Murray was active in rotation in 2017. With Berry’s absence occurring longer than expected, Murray ended up starting nine games in 2018. However, Murray was never able to make an impact in his three seasons, finishing with just one interception, one sack and one fumble recovery in three years in Kansas City. He’s currently with the Houston Texans.

Round 4 (126) – WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida

Grade: B

Demarcus Robinson first started receiving attention with the Chiefs during the 2017 preseason. It was the most anticipated preseason due to the arrival of Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City’s first quarterback drafted in the first round in 34 years. In Week 4 of the preseason in 2017, Mahomes and Robinson connected three times for 127 yards and a touchdown. The two would carry over their preseason rapport into the regular season.

In Week 17 of 2018, Mahomes threw an 89-yard touchdown pass to Robinson, giving Mahomes his 50th touchdown pass of the season. With Tyreek Hill missing a few games early in 2019 due to an injury, Robinson saw more playing time during Hill’s absence. It was then that Robinson caught 16 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns in four games. That includes a monster game against the Raiders where Robinson caught six passes for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Robinson has been unable to showcase his talent on a consistent basis due to a crowded pass-catching corp in Kansas City with Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and tight end Travis Kelce. With Watkins moving on to Baltimore, it will be interesting to see if Robinson can prove he deserves more opportunities in this offense.

Round 5 (162) – QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford

Grade: F

Drafting a quarterback in the third day of the draft is always interesting. Prior to Kevin Hogan. the Chiefs had a pair of quarterbacks they drafted in the fifth round last decade. The Chiefs drafted Ricky Stanzi in 2011 and Aaron Murray in 2014. Both had successful college careers, but neither saw regular season action. Stanzi and Murray each spent a couple of seasons with the Chiefs. However, Hogan was cut by the team after the 2016 preseason. Hogan went on to sign with four other teams, seeing one start in Cleveland.

Round 5 (165) – WR Tyreek Hill, West Alabama

Grade: A+

Hill has dominated the NFL since he was drafted. As a receiver, rusher and returner, Hill is responsible for 7,407 yards and 57 touchdowns in five years. During Kansas City’s 2018 historic season, which produced the third highest scoring output in NFL history, Hill broke the franchise record for most receiving yards in a single-season, breaking Derrick Alexander’s mark.

Hill has turned into the most dangerous and dynamic offensive weapon in the league since his arrival. Sports Illustrated called him the “most prolific long-touchdown scorer in NFL history.” According to CBS Sports, Hill has 21 touchdown plays of 50 yards or more since entering the league. CBS Sports also noted he has the most touchdowns since entering the league with 55 at the time the article was written in early December. His speed has given him the ability to torch defenders, creating space and marching to the end zone on most of his scores. Hill has also made the Pro Bowl five times, earning votes iforn every year since he’s been in the NFL.

Round 6 (178) – CB D.J. White, Georgia Tech

Grade: C

D.J. White appeared in 11 games with the Chiefs with most of his activity being on special teams. He saw significant snaps on defense in just three games. Like most late-round picks, White became a journeyman in the NFL, signing with eight teams in his career. He has only appeared in three games since his rookie year in Kansas City.

Round 6 (203) – DE Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech

Grade: C

Similar to White, Dadi Nicolas has become a journeyman after playing for the Chiefs only in 2016 where he saw action in 11 games. Nicolas spent time with five NFL teams. He currently plays for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

Next. Second round targets for the Chiefs. dark