Greetings draftonians. As you could probably tell by the title, this mock draft is all about the 2010 AFC West Divisional champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. Is it just me, or does that just sound weird? The last time the Chiefs won the AFC West was back in 2003. They were terrible from 07-09. The turn around is largely because of Scott Pioli who has reformed the entire team since being hired as General Manager back in 08. He has done an excellent job of acquiring good personnel and drafting well. Last year, he picked up Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, Jon Asamoah, Tony Moeaki, Kendrick Lewis, and Cameron Scheffield. Eric Berry made the pro bowl team as a rookie. The rest of the draft class showed a lot of promise, particularly Arenas and Moeaki. With the draft a little over 2 months away, lets take a look at the team needs for the Chiefs.
1. Nose Tackle
Ron Edwards has been a nice serviceable player for the Chiefs as they transitioned to the 3-4, but he is getting older and the Chiefs have nobody behind him. They recently brought in Sean Rodgers for a visit. If he signs with the Chiefs, the need for nose tackle goes down. However, Rodgers has visited a number of teams already so who knows who he will sign with. There aren’t that many nose tackles in this class, but the few that there are will surely be on the Chiefs big board.
The Chiefs brought back Casey Weigmann last year and the move proved effective. The 37 year old veteran did a nice job this year and helped the Chiefs have the top rushing attack in the NFL. However, Weigmann could be retiring and the Chiefs do not have a replacement on the roster. The center class isn’t particularly strong in this years draft so they might look to pick up a a player in free agency.
The Chiefs have a fantastic pass rusher in Tamba Hali. He is a great player who doesn’t get near the recognition he deserves. He was recently franchised by the Chiefs to assure he will be with the team at least until next year. There isn’t much opposite of Hali. They have a young guy that has some potential in Andy Studebaker, but he is far from a sure thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs spent an early selection in finding some help for Hali.
The Chiefs thought they had a nice group of receivers going into 2010. Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers, and Dexter McCluster were supposed to be a dangerous trio. Instead, Bowe was a one man show while Chambers did nothing and McCluster was injured. Bowe had a pro bowl year catching 72 passes for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns. If the Chiefs want to continue to be on top of the AFC West, they will need to get Matt Cassel another target opposite of Bowe. I would be surprised if the Chiefs picked a WR in round 1. There are plenty of WR available in rounds 2-4.
The Chiefs had a great year last year and a large part of that is due to the play of Matt Cassel. With Charlie Weis as his offensive coordinator, Cassel had a pro bowl year where he threw 27 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. He will be the starter in 2011. However, Cassel missed a game due to injury last year. His replacement, Brodie Croyle, was just awful. He went 7 for 17 with no touchdowns while taking 4 sacks. A better back up is needed. There are quite a few guys that will be available in the late rounds.
1st Round #21 overall: Phil Taylor, NT from Baylor
Phil Taylor has probably risen up more draft boards then any other prospect in the NFL draft. After having a very good Senior Bowl, he has entered late 1st round consideration. What might help Taylor the most is the fact that he is one of the few true nose tackles in this draft. He is a big body who is capable of drawing double teams and help stuff the run. If Taylor performs well at the Combine, he could continue to move up draft boards and will undoubtedly be a person Scott Pioli keeps an eye on. The Chiefs have a need at NT and Taylor has a good chance of being on the board at their pick.
2nd Round #55: Leonard Hankerson, WR from Miami
Hankerson is another player who really improved his stock at the Senior Bowl. He caught 5 passes for 99 yard and a touchdown in the game. Hankerson has nice size coming in at 6 ft 3, 205 pounds. He has long arms and strong hands. He showed a good ability to locate the ball and to go up and get it. Hankerson doesn’t show great speed or a burst off the line. I would guess that he doesn’t run faster then a 4.5 40 yard dash. He would be a very nice compliment to WR Dwayne Bowe and TE Tony Moeaki.
3rd Round #86: Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB from Pittsburgh.
If the Chiefs want to continue to stay on top of the AFC West, they will need to find more ways to get to the QB then Tamba Hali. Sheard is an underrated player in my view. He has been overshadowed by Greg Romeus during his time at Pittsburgh, but do not sleep on this guy. He has a good first step, a nice arsenal of pass rush moves and is a smart player with a good motor. He will need to learn how to drop in coverage, but he could develop into a very nice compliment to Tamba Hali.
4th Round #117: Tim Barnes, C from Missouri
The center class this year is not very good. There aren’t many players who have starter potential. When you look at all of the potential centers, Barnes makes the most sense for Chiefs. Barnes is a developmental guy. I don’t think he can step in day 1 and start, but he is an athletic, intelligent player who can mature into a starter if he gets stronger and fixes some technique issues. He looks to be a good fit for a zone block scheme and would benefit greatly from sitting behind and learning from Casey Weigmann.
5th Round #132: Greg Salas, WR from Hawaii
Another WR? Yes. The Chiefs literally have nothing at the position. Dwayne Bowe is their only good receiving option. Dexter McCluster was hurt for a big part of the year, but he has already displayed his effectiveness from the slot position. The Chiefs just drafted Leonard Hankerson to play opposite of Bowe, but that only gives the Chiefs 3 good receivers. Salas is a well put together WR standing at 6 ft 2, 210 pounds. He is a good route runner and a guy who can be a nice backup player from either the slot or outside position.
5th Round #136: Greg McElroy, QB from Alabama
Brodie Croyle is awful. He started one game for the injured Matt Cassel and he put in a pitiful performance. Greg McElroy reminds me a lot of Matt Cassel. He’s a very intelligent QB who deciphers defenses and reacts very well. He doesn’t have great physical tools, but Greg was a leader at Alabama and I think he could be a starter somewhere down the line.
7th Round #212: Armond Smith, RB from Union
The Chiefs had the best running game in the NFL last year. They had arguably the best RB in Jamaal Charles and a nice complimentary back in Thomas Jones. However, there isn’t much behind them and Jones is over 30. Armond Smith is very undersized weighing in at 5 ft 9, 186 pounds, but he has elite speed and elusiveness. He is capable of catching passes out of the backfield and once he has the ball in space, look out. He’s a guy worth a shot in the 7th.
Let’s review what this draft does for the Chiefs:
1st round- Phil Taylor, NT from Baylor
2nd round- Leonard Hankerson, WR from Miami
3rd round- Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB from Pittsburgh
4th round- Tim Barnes, C from Missouri
5th round- Greg Salas, WR from Hawaii
5th round- Greg McElroy, QB from Alabama
7th round- Armond Smith, RB from Union
All of the key needs for the Chiefs were addressed. They got themselves a nose tackle to groom in Taylor and some pass rush help in Sheard. There offense was given a big boost with this draft. In addition to a new starting WR in Hankerson, they got a center to groom in Barnes, more depth at WR in Salas and a potential scatback in Armond Smith. Overall, the Chiefs got depth and talent in key positions. It will help them contend for their 2nd straight AFC West Championship.