Last Wednesday, the Kansas City Chiefs made a move that dwindled their options for the first overall pick a bit when they acquired Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers for a 2nd round pick this year and conditional pick next year. The move effectively erased the Chiefs’ top two needs in 2013, which in my eyes were head coach and quarterback. Kansas City boasts a talented roster, but it was widely expected that the Chiefs would at best have question marks at receiver and left tackle with one of Dwayne Bowe or Branden Albert departing.
Now, the Chiefs have really got people on the edge of their seats. As we wait just under two months for the 2013 NFL Draft, there could not be more confusion as to what is going to happen with the number one overall pick possessed by the Chiefs. Kansas City has eliminated quarterback from their list of options, in my mind, and with the franchise tag being used on Branden Albert, I don’t see them going with a left tackle first overall either.
Now, I could certainly be wrong there. The Chiefs may have tagged Albert simply because they can, because he’s a good starter in the NFL, and they could try to trade him or draft a replacement if he holds out or doesn’t want to be a Chief anymore, plain and simple. That being said, there is still a remote chance the number one overall pick could be used on Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or even Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, who is gaining a ton of steam as the potential top player in this draft class (weak, I know).
The Chiefs’ next biggest needs are along the defensive line and at the cornerback spot opposite Brandon Flowers. Kansas City could wind up losing Glenn Dorsey to free agency, and why wouldn’t they? He’s not a good fit for the 3-4 defense and should look to revive his career elsewhere. The team also may have to cut ties with former third overall pick Tyson Jackson, who is a decent player but is on the books for $14 million this season. He’s not likely to take a pay cut, if you ask me. Would you if that was your salary this year? Our best guess is that Jackson winds up getting released from Kansas City, leaving them with two major voids at the defensive end position.
That leaves KC in a very sketchy situation, since the top defensive lineman in this draft has a potentially serious heart condition that could crush his draft stock and cause him to plummet. Star Lotulelei was advised not to work out at the Scouting Combine because of a heart condition that he had checked out in Utah immediately after it was discovered. The results on his medical situation are still pending, but prior to this discovery, he was our top rated defensive lineman and the best 3-4 defensive end in the draft, who would fit perfectly with Kansas City. Now, there are serious doubts about whether or not a team can realistically invest a first round pick on this guy, much less the top selection overall.
That would pave the way for the Chiefs to take Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, who is also arguably the top defensive tackle in this draft, right? Wrong. Floyd is not a good fit for the 3-4 defense in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others. His best fit is in a four man front, and the Chiefs have seen first hand what can happen when you draft players like that out of position. Floyd is an elite three-technique prospect, but many believe he would be a bust as a five-technique in a 3-4 scheme. The same is true of Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson, who is also considered a top flight defensive line prospect this year.
Right now, my brain is pointing me to Alabama’s stud corner Dee Milliner as the Chiefs’ top selection. There are some out there who believe Milliner cemented his status as a top five selection with his performance at the Scouting Combine, where he turned in a sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash along with some other eye-popping measurements. Milliner was as good as any corner in the country last season as a junior, and it’s believed that there’s not even a fighting chance he will last past the Detroit Lions with the number five overall selection. The Chiefs also don’t have a second round pick to invest in a potential starting cornerback, but this is a deep year for the position.
The top end of the draft is loaded for offensive and defensive linemen, but in my opinion the overall depth of those classes is weak in terms of getting good players in the mid-late rounds. The cornerback position is very deep this year, with starting caliber cornerbacks sure to be available when teams line up to pick in rounds four and five. That’s how good it is. The free agent classes are actually pretty similar, with cornerback being probably one of the deepest positions I’ve seen in a while. The problem is, the Chiefs can’t afford to go out and get a really good cornerback on the free agent market, but they are pursuing guys like Cullen Jenkins for their new 3-4 defensive alignment.
Veterans will undoubtedly be brought in at both positions, but if I had to guess right now, I think the Chiefs’ board would look something like this (assuming Lotulelei is healthy):
1. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
2. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
3. Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah
4. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
5. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
I think in a passing league, you can’t overstate the importance of the cornerback position. The Chiefs have one shut down caliber guy in Brandon Flowers, and outside of him, they are struggling to find production. Milliner could be the best at the top of a class that is very weak among the first 10 or so players being selected. This is a deep draft, and the Chiefs are missing a crucial pick in the 2nd round. Thankfully, they have solved their QB woes for the time being with Alex Smith coming over from the Niners.
Right now, it seems like the best option for the Chiefs could be Alabama’s Combine stud, but we’ll know more in a week when free agency gets kicked off what Andy Reid has up his sleeve for this team next.