In years past, the Kansas City Chiefs have liked adding Shrine Bowl talent to their roster. Currently, the Chiefs have four players who played in the Shrine Bowl on their roster: punter Tommy Townsend, defensive lineman Tershawn Wharton, running back Isiah Pacheco, and pass rusher B.J. Thompson. They also drafted defensive tackle Keondre Coburn in 2023, though he is no longer with the team.
The Shrine Bowl is one of college football's premier all-star games that is continually putting more and more players into the NFL.
The 99th East-West Shrine Bowl will played on February 1st and can be watched on NFL Network. Let's look at some players who are likely on the Chiefs' radar in this year's edition.
The Chiefs have a need at running back with Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire set to be free agents. After transferring from Ball State to UCLA, Carson Steele is set to be one of the lead backs for the game. In 2022, he had over 1,600 yards from scrimmage for Ball State as he showed he could be a bell cow. He has quality straight-line speed, a thick frame, and can stay on the field for passing downs with 58 receptions in the last three seasons.
Sanders is one of the most athletic tight end prospects in this draft, he profiles out as a pass-first tight end with some blocking upside. At 6'4", 250 pounds, he's not going to be a road grader but he could be a key piece that the Chiefs offense missed this year. With Jody Fortson injured for the year, the Chiefs have lost some productivity when going with 13 personnel, mainly because Blake Bell has not been a viable pass-catching option. Sanders is explosive and could be the heir to the Kansas City tight end dynasty—especially if he got a few years with Kelce. Dane Brugler recently mocked him to the Chiefs in round two of his most recent mock draft.
One hill I will die on is that the Chiefs need to take multiple swings at the receiver position. Jalen Coker is a great Day 3 option that deserves a shot from Kansas City. Coker recently played in the Hula Bowl and now is headed for the Shrine Bowl. This year he totaled over 1,000 yards on 59 receptions, with 15 TDs, and he averaged over 17 yards per catch. He's a 6'3" 213-pound wideout who can line up on the outside and is explosive after the catch. He would be a nice change for the Chiefs receiver room which is fairly undersized currently.
Much different than Coker, Washington will likely go overlooked because of his size. However, the recent success of smaller prospects like Zay Flowers or Tank Dell might help his case. At 5'8" and 190 lbs., he's undersized but he's an elite ball tracker, athletic, and separates at an elite rate. The Chiefs have used players like Tyreek Hill, De'Anthony Thomas, and Dexter McCluster over the years. Washington is a more complete receiver coming out than all of them. He doesn't have the top-end speed they did but Andy Reid would leverage Washington's skill set well.
The NFL is in the middle of a tight end renaissance and Holker is a nice fit for the Chiefs who have a positional need. At 6'5" and 240 lbs., Holker is a plus blocker with athletic traits that translate as a pass catcher. He's been a solid receiving threat and would be a perfect replacement for Blake Bell. He's much more of a classic tight end than Ja'Tavion Sanders but much less dynamic. Looking at the role in 2023 for Tucker Kraft of the Packers would be a familiar comparison for Holker.
The Chiefs have a track record of using premium picks on young players (21 or 22 years old). Tupuola-Fetui will be 24 this year but he will likely be a final day selection.
The Chiefs have consistently added defensive line depth over the years and Tupiola-Fetui could be a name to watch. At 6'4" and 255lbs, the athletic profile doesn't stand out, but he has a high motor and has been a productive pass rusher. With 16 career sacks (5 years of play), the numbers aren't eye-popping but every roster needs role-player depth. The Chiefs have made good use out of Malik Herring this year and there's a similar path for Zion.