After a 9-2 start to the season for the KC Chiefs, what does a 2023 NFL mock draft look like for them and what positions could they target?
The Kansas City Chiefs have completed eleven regular season games of their 2022 campaign and are gearing up for, hopefully, another deep playoff run in January and February. Even though they are one of the best teams in the NFL, they still have needs on the roster that should be addressed this upcoming offseason, including in the draft.
In 2023, the NFL Draft is coming to Union Station in Kansas City, and the Chiefs are set to host the premier event of the offseason.
What positions will Kansas City be interested in and which college prospects should fans look out for as potential future Chiefs? Which slots are the team currently projected to pick? Let’s answer all of those questions with a way-too-early 2023 mock draft.
For reference, NFL Mock Draft Database’s Mock Draft Simulator will be used and they have the Chiefs pegged at 31st, 62nd, and 95th overall. Also, due to the Miami Dolphins losing their 2023 first-round pick, every pick was moved up one spot.
Although the stats look a lot better this season, the Chiefs still need to address their pass rush this offseason. Chris Jones should be re-signed but they need to continue to bring in reinforcements for him. George Karlaftis looks like a solid, but there’s not much after him. Frank Clark may not be retained after this year, Carlos Dunlap is also not a lock to return, and Mike Danna is a free agent after the 2023 season.
B.J. Ojulari has the speed to complement Karlaftis’ power. He has an explosive first step and has demonstrated numerous swim moves to attack offensive tackles. I’m not a huge fan of the scheme fit for Kansas City, but he’s a solid player and the Chiefs can’t afford to be picky when it comes to fixing their defensive line.
I struggled with this pick for a while because I was itching for an offensive tackle, interior defensive lineman, or a deep-threat wide receiver, but the board did not fall in the Chiefs’ favor. The best players available were either at positions of strength (interior offensive line, safety, and tight end) or the prospects were not ideal fits for Kansas City. I ended up taking the best player on the board in safety Jordan Battle.
Battle is a versatile player who can play both free and strong safety. He has great range in the passing game and has shown positive traits as a run defender. Steve Spagnuolo likes to use three safeties regularly and Juan Thornhill is not a sure thing to be re-signed this offseason based on his play this year.
This pick is the biggest projection of the three picks in the mock. Zion Nelson has barely played this season due to a knee injury suffered over the summer and may not declare for the 2023 NFL Draft because of it. In 2021, he was fantastic in pass protection for the Hurricanes and could have seen his draft stock skyrocket this season, if not for the injury. He’s fantastic in space and has the size, length, and wingspan of a starting NFL blindside blocker.
What the Chiefs decide to do at left tackle long-term will depend on how Orlando Brown Jr. plays the rest of the year. In addition, after Lucas Niang’s injury recovery, I’m not sure if they will want to draft a tackle this early who hasn’t played full-time in multiple years because of an injury, although some analysts projected him to be a first-rounder before it. It would make sense to sit him behind Brown for a season, or play him at right tackle, before handing over the reins indefinitely after 2023. Nelson isn’t a day-one starter to me, but he does have one of the higher ceilings at his position this draft class, if he decides to declare.