In just a few weeks, the Kingdom will get its first look at the latest batch of rookies for the Kansas City Chiefs in training camp. The likes of Rashee Rice and Felix Anudike-Uzomah will be fun to follow as they take to the field against very real competition both on the Chiefs roster and in preseason games. There's nothing quite like welcoming new faces to the team because of the excitement they bring with an uncertain ceiling.
Speaking of an uncertain ceiling, we thought this point of the offseason would be an ideal time to look forward to see which college prospects we should keep an eye on as the NCAA season gets underway soon. Which needs will the Chiefs look to address? What prospects are already drawing attention? Let's take a look at the draft class of 2024 and who is being linked with the Chiefs in (very early) mock drafts.
Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
The Chiefs were widely expected to select an offensive tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft but those visions were set aside when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Anton Harrison as the last real tackle worthy of a first-round pick. Instead, the Chiefs selected Wanya Morris in the third round out of Oklahoma as a potential long-term starter who required a bit more projection than what a Super Bowl contender might like at an important position.
In this instance, Matt Holder of Bleacher Report has https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10074160-2024-nfl-mock-draft-brs-way-too-early-predictions at the bottom of the first round in Zion Nelson. After this season, he'll be a four-year starter at left tackle for the Hurricanes with a solid resume against strong competition. However, anything related to his draft stock will be completely contingent upon how he's recovered from a knee injury that robbed him of the majority of this past season.
For the Chiefs, this pick is also contingent on how the two youngsters are looking as potential starters themselves. Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor are the assumed veteran starters for the Chiefs this season after making wholesale changes at the position this offseason, but Morris and Lucas Niang, a holdover from the 2020 draft who has been beset by injuries, are also present and competing for reps.
Early Verdict: In a way, this pick makes sense because the most important things for the Chiefs are 1.) Patrick Mahomes and, 2.) Protecting Patrick Mahomes. If late third-round selections aren't getting the job done, then a first-round investment makes sense. That said, Morris and Niang have a starter's ceiling and should be coached up enough to keep the Chiefs from having to make this pick. Everything depends on development and health on both sides.