Kansas City Chiefs: Trade-up targets in the 2021 NFL Draft

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
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2021 NFL Draft, Christian Darrisaw
2021 NFL Draft prospect Christian Darrisaw #77 of the Virginia Tech Hokies (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Left Tackle. Virginia Tech. Christian Darrisaw. 2. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. player. 847

With the acquisition of Thuney to fill the left guard position, the Chiefs have indicated that they are going to be aggressive in finding offensive line help this offseason. While letting go of both starting tackles in free agency might have been a risky move, the front office clearly feels confident in their ability to build a new group of blockers to protect Mahomes in 2021.

Offseason rumors have the Kansas City Chiefs feeling assured that their 2020 third-rounder Lucas Niang is up to the task of taking over right tackle duties. And now that veteran Kyle Long has come out of retirement to play guard on a one-year deal for the Chiefs, the front office needs to be looking to secure a franchise left tackle to protect Mahomes’ blindside.

They might consider going down the free agency path at left tackle but securing one for a few seasons isn’t the best use of resources. With most of the elite free agents already signed by other teams this offseason, it seems more likely the Chiefs’ scouting department will be looking to fill that role in the draft. If they are going to focus on locking down a talented left tackle early in the draft, then trading up in the first round will be their best bet at protecting Mahomes for the foreseeable future.

If the Kansas City Chiefs want to secure a true plug-and-play left tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft then they should be setting their sights on Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw. At 6-foot-5, 314-pounds, Darrisaw has the ideal physical and athletic traits of an NFL tackle: A big, brawling blocker who can leverage his size and skills to defend from pass-rushers off the left side.

A full-time starter for the Hokies since 2018, Darrisaw has shown considerable skill on the offensive line, providing elite run-blocking and pass-protection since joining the team at left tackle. Not allowing many pressures (let alone sacks) in 2020, Darrisaw has shown a solid trajectory of improvement since starting at Virginia Tech and looks ready to be a Week 1 starter in the NFL.


According to Lance Zierlein’s NFL Draft Profile, Darrisaw is a left tackle “who has the talent and strength to make blocks from every angle…” and has “…silky-smooth feet in pass slide…(with) strong hands (that) help him lock-in after a punch has landed”.

Darrisaw may still have some things to work on in the NFL, but the vast majority of his tape indicates he can look forward to being a starting offensive tackle in the NFL for years to come. In a draft class loaded with offensive tackle talent, Darrisaw stands out from the crowd and is considered one of the top three prospects in this year’s tackle class.

Cost to move up

So what would it cost the Kansas City Chiefs to move up to acquire Darrisaw in the first round? Well, this one might cost the Chiefs more than just a late-Day Two pick packaged with their first-rounder. Most 2021 big boards have Darrisaw projected as a mid-first-rounder, which puts him well out of reach for the Chiefs at No. 31.

Where and when the tackles ranked higher than Darrisaw get drafted will determine how far he might fall in the first round, and by extension how much the Chiefs will need to spend to move up. Regardless, it is very unlikely Darrisaw falls to Chiefs at their current position in the first round. This means they’ll need to make a move into the top 20 to even have a chance of drafting Darrisaw.

The Titans might be a good trade partner in this scenario. Drafting 22nd in the first round, the Titans are pretty set at the offensive line and won’t likely be targeting a player like Darrisaw. The same can’t be said of the New York Jets, who draft at 23. Or the Jacksonville Jaguars at 25, who have their current left tackle on a franchise tag. Both those teams will be looking for offensive line help in the 2021 NFL Draft, which might cause a run on the tackle position late in the first round.

The Kansas City Chiefs would be smart to move up if they think they can secure one of the premier left tackle prospects in the first round before other teams take a shot at him. But considering multiple teams could be looking to move up for Darrisaw, it might require the Chiefs to pony up more resources than the competition to ensure they get their future left tackle. The Titans have nine draft picks this year, meaning they can afford to be picky and hold out for the best trade package in the first round.

This trade might require some extra finagling on both sides to make it work. It doesn’t make sense for the Kansas City Chiefs to trade their second-rounder to move up 10 spots. But the Titans have two third-rounders already, meaning the Chiefs third-rounder might not enough to get a deal done. But the Titans do have five draft picks after the third round, including three sixth-rounders. They might be open to a multi-pick trade that requires multiple moving parts (swapping Day Two and Day Three picks, throwing in 2022 Draft picks and potentially trading players to make the deal more equitable for both parties).

Regardless of what deal they end up with, trading first-rounders makes sense for both teams in this scenario. The Titans have made multiple pricey acquisitions during free agency this year, spending the fourth-most of all NFL teams so far (at time of publication). They clearly think they can win the AFC South in 2021 and are looking to boost an already solid roster. But they still need a wide receiver or two to round out the offensive group, along with depth players who can step in should the need arise.

They are too far back in the first-round to lock down one of the top three elite receivers but more picks on Day 2 would give them more chances at striking gold at the receiver position. And the Kansas City Chiefs would get a chance at locking down an elite left tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft, the only glaring hole on the offensive side of the ball for Kansas City.