After a disappointing Super Bowl loss, the Kansas City Chiefs enter the NFL Draft with some massive depth issues. Andy Reid’s team still has a generational talent at quarterback, but the defense is full of holes. The offensive line isn’t looking so reliable at tackle either. With minimal draft capital, Reid and general manager Brett Veach must retool their Super Bowl contender.
The Chiefs will be in the Super Bowl conversation as long as they have Patrick Mahomes. However, several teams in the AFC caught up to Kansas City last year and should continue improving. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t lose any of their key contributors either and could repeat as champions. The Chiefs have very little cap space, so the draft is their best chance at improving before Week 1.
I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine and Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator to justify each of my selections. At least one website had the chosen players available at their listed picks over several simulations. I didn’t predict any trades and included an “ideal pick” after every selection for optimistic fans.
Radunz helped himself with a strong pro day where he flashed explosive numbers in the jumps and ran a 5.11 40-yard dash and 7.27 three-cone. According to PFF, those times rank in the 72nd and 97th percentile, respectively, among offensive tackles. While Radunz carries some concerns regarding the level of competition he faced, Kansas City can’t be picky when protecting Mahomes.
The Chiefs hope 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang and 2018 third-round selection Martinas Rankin fill the left tackle role in 2021. However, Rankin only has ten career starts, and Niang opted out of his rookie season because of COVID-19. Neither of them should start over Radunz or right tackle Mike Remmers.
There are concerns about Radunz’s footwork and balance. Tackles and quarterbacks routinely get drafted above their projected positions in the draft, and teams find ways to smooth out wrinkles. That’s the route the Chiefs will take with Radunz.
Ideally, Kansas City lands Samuel Cosmi, who finished as one of the top pass protectors in college football each of the past two seasons. However, the ultra-athletic Texas tackle had an even more impressive pro day than Radunz and should get drafted in the top 25 selections.
Ideal pick: Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas
Cox was a two-time FCS All-American and the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year at North Dakota St. before transferring to the FBS level. Despite the jump in competition, Cox more than held his own. In ten games with the Tigers this past season, he tallied 58 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, a sack, three interceptions, five passes defensed, and a defensive touchdown.
The soon-to-be 23-year-old saw his draft stock skyrocket after an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. He dominated in drills all week, flashing elite coverage skills for a linebacker. He has a bright future with the NFL becoming so pass-centric. Every team needs a player with Cox’s skillset.
Anthony Hitchens and 2020 second-round pick Willie Gay Jr. are Kansas City’s best linebackers. While most rookie linebackers face a sharp learning curve, Cox could surpass his competition quickly in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.
Ideal pick: Jamin Davis, LB Kentucky
L’Jarius Sneed developed into an awesome outside corner by the end of his rookie season. The former fourth-round pick, Rashad Fenton, and Charvarius Ward are Kansas City’s top cornerbacks. The Chiefs barely got by with their defense last season, and they still had Bashaud Breeland back then. Reid must inject some new talent into his struggling secondary.
Adebo didn’t play this past season, but the Stanford product flashed immense potential in 2018 and 2019. During those years, he amassed 97 tackles, eight interceptions, and 27 passes defensed. That’s Day 2 production that might even elevate Adebo into the second-round depending on how quickly teams scoop up the top corners.
At Stanford’s pro day, Adebo ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and checked in at 6-1, 198 lbs. He’s got a bit of everything, but that doesn’t mean he’s flawless. Adebo’s speed doesn’t always show up on deep routes, and he occasionally takes poor angles in run support.
Ideal pick: Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB Syracuse
Pittsburgh’s pro day didn’t go well for Jones. The 6-4, 261 lb. edge rusher measured in with sub-33-inch arms and had below-average strength and explosive scores. He didn’t do any of the runs, which raises concerns about his speed and agility. Jones tallied 83 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 17.5 sacks during the last two seasons, but his projection to the NFL remains murky.
On the positive side, Jones is an athletic defensive end that springs off the line of scrimmage. He has good bend that can help with turning corners, and Jones does a good job redirecting to the football. He’ll rely on his athleticism and mobility early in the NFL before filling out his frame and becoming more active with his hands.
The Chiefs need some help on the edge. While Frank Clark, Chris Jones, and Jarran Reed are a formidable trio, the left defensive end role remains a weakness. Tim Ward holds that spot on Kansas City’s depth chart right now. That needs to change.
Ideal pick: Rashad Weaver, EDGE Pittsburgh
Kansas City got significantly better at guard this offseason. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif returned after opting out this past season to serve in the medical field amidst the pandemic. The Chiefs also signed coveted free agent Joe Thuney and brought in former Pro Bowler Kyle Long. The additions might even push three-year starter Andrew Wylie into a backup role.
Hutcherson could join Kansas City as a developmental offensive lineman that might see significant snaps as soon as 2022 or 2023. He has tremendous power and loves mauling opponents when given a chance. Unfortunately, Hutcherson deals with some stiffness in his hips and doesn’t have great on-field mobility.
Hutcherson ran a blazing 4.95 40-time at 321 lbs. at South Carolina’s pro day. Despite having sub-33-inch arms, the former Gamecock has excellent strength and speed for his size. In this scenario, it comes down to Kansas City developing him properly.
Ideal pick: Walker Little, OT Stanford
The Chiefs have a unique combination of safeties with Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen, Juan Thornhill, and Armani Watts. However, the team has to think about its future. Mahomes is sticking around for the long haul, and Kansas City needs the defensive infrastructure to capitalize on his greatness.
Sorensen is approaching 32 years old and is a free agent in 2022. Mathieu is also a free agent next year and would cost a lot of money to retain. Watts hasn’t contributed much and is in the final year of his rookie deal. Even Thornhill is coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign.
Gillespie projects as a strong safety in the NFL. He’s a physical player that can come down and cover tight ends. He lacks the speed to continue playing single-high as he did at Missouri, but he might project well in the Sorensen role for Kansas City.
Ideal pick: Seth Williams, WR Auburn
The Chiefs aren’t devoid of tackles. They have developing players like Martinas, Niang, and, in this case, Radunz. Combined with Remmers, Kansas City’s young tackles form the embryo of a decent offensive line. That lineup won’t stand its ground against elite defensive fronts, but it’s good enough to win with. However, the Chiefs should continue looking for avenues to upgrade their line and prepare for more cap-strapped seasons.
Forsythe is a worthwhile selection, even if he enters 2021 as a backup tackle that doesn’t see the field much. The massive 6-8, 307 lb. Florida product has over 34-inch arms and performed well for his size during the speed drills at Florida’s pro day. He saw starting time at both tackle positions for the Gators.
Because he’s so large, Forsythe occasionally leans too far forward and displays poor balance. He struggles as a run blocker because his frame naturally gives up leverage. On the bright side, Forsythe has a fantastic anchor and is brilliant in pass protection. Mahomes would approve of this pick.
Ideal pick: Justin Hilliard, LB Ohio St.
At 5-8, 174 lbs., Darden is one of the smallest players in this year’s draft class. He doesn’t have transcendent speed, but the North Texas product is twitchy and dynamic in space. Despite his size, Darden scored 31 receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons. He also occasionally served as a punt returner.
Kansas City already has plenty of dynamic speedsters, but the team might have an opening in the slot this year. Imagine Darden, Mecole Hardman, and Tyreek Hill on the field together. That’s a death lineup.
Ideal pick: Thomas Graham Jr., CB Oregon
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