Kansas City Chiefs Mock Draft: Weighing First-Round Options
That's what happens when you fill most of your roster holes in free agency.
The Chiefs needed depth at tight end and signed Kevin Boss. To replace Thomas Jones and compliment Jamaal Charles, they picked up Peyton Hillis. With Brandon Carr ready to hit free agency, Kansas City took out an insurance policy named Stanford Routt.
Most of all, they plugged the massive gap at right tackle with Texans standout Eric Winston.
So where does that leave the Chiefs when they come on the clock? Even with the rare ability to select the best overall player rather than pick for need, Scott Pioli and crew will likely keep analyzing their options until they turn their choice in to the commissioner.
Which is exactly what we'll be doing. Here's a look at the top rumored prospects for the Chiefs, how they'd fit into Kansas City's lineup and the likelihood Roger Goodell will handle them a No. 1 red-and-gold jersey on Thursday.
Running Back Trent Richardson, Alabama
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Definitely one of the top running back prospects of the last five years, Trent Richardson brings a complete package to whichever team drafts him. Richardson kept the Crimson Tide rolling even against some of the top defenses. He works well as a receiver out of the backfield and should quickly adapt to a larger blocking role in pass protection.
But will he be doing his work in Kansas City's backfield? I wouldn't put money on it.
Signing Peyton Hillis even for one year fills up the backfield. Unless the Chiefs aren't serious about giving Hillis a chance to resurrect his career, there would be too few carries for three running backs of their caliber.
Plus, despite there being little reason to draft running backs in the top 10 given their shelf life, Richardson will likely be gone by the time Kansas City selects their draft pick.
Richardson will do very well for whichever team drafts him. It just won't be the Chiefs sending his name in.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
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Another player that should be available when Kansas City picks (but likely won't) is Ryan Tannehill.
That type of attention has Tannehill shooting up draft boards. When once I wouldn't have put Tannehill in the top 20, he could now easily go in the top five. That could even impact other quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler, inching him up to an early-second or even late-first selection.
Osweiler could be an option for the Chiefs, but their quarterback situation carries many of the same qualities as they have at running back. Free agent Brady Quinn fills up the slot vacated by Tyler Palko, and Ricky Stanzi is clearly a project player. In short, they're full up.
The biggest question isn't in Kansas City's reserve players; it's in their starter. Matt Cassel remains inconsistent in three years with the Chiefs, though this year will be the ultimate litmus test on his abilities.
Injuries aside, if he does well then he'll be able to establish himself as the future unquestioned starter; if not, then he'll be packing boxes to leave town by March.
But the Chiefs are going to give Cassel that chance to prove himself one last time. That means Kansas City won't get into a bidding war to move up in the draft, especially not for a player with only one year starting under his belt.
Inside Linebacker Luke Kuechly, Boston College
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But also like Richardson, he'll earn his accolades wearing something other than a Chiefs' jersey.
Kuechly would easily displace Jovan Belcher as the starter opposite Derrick Johnson. But no team can afford to have standouts at every position, and the Chiefs already have Johnson, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston in their linebacker corps.
Kansas City stands in prime position to pick based on talent rather than need, but picking Kuechly here doesn't serve the Chiefs very well.
Plus, the second inside linebacker doesn't see nearly as many snaps; that would leave Kuechly on the sidelines for a number of plays while Johnson stays on the field. In the first round, the Chiefs need a player they can use on nearly every snap possible.
Nose Tackle Dontari Poe, Memphis
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The idea of drafting a player who will stay on the field applies to Dontari Poe as well.
With the number of formation changes on defense, a player like Poe won't necessarily see many snaps when the Chiefs shift into their nickel or dime packages. That not only makes Poe a less likely target, but minimizes the chance of taking a nose tackle in the first round in general.
Kansas City's already shown a lack of serious concern with their nose tackle position. With Phil Taylor on the board last year, the Chiefs traded down with the Browns in the first round even though Cleveland used that very pick for him.
And without any serious free agents picks to fill the gap, either Kansas City has confidence in the development of last year's sixth-round pick, Jerrell Powe, or they just don't value the position much.
Poe comes with a couple red flags of his own. While he dominated at the combine, Poe didn't destroy the competition while playing against mid-range talent in Memphis. The Chiefs need more than a workout warrior; they need someone who'll challenge their opponent on every snap.
Defensive Tackle/End Michael Brockers, LSU
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LSU's Michael Brockers could hold more upside for the Chiefs than Dontari Poe. Projected more as a defensive end, Brockers certainly has the size to play nose in a 3-4 scheme.
Brockers has two things going against him, though:
1. He would need plenty of training to get him ready to shift to nose tackle.
2. He played for LSU.
Now, this isn't a dig against Louisiana fans in the slightest. But when the Chiefs have three first-round picks on their roster from one area, it's a little uncomfortable looking to add a fourth.
It wouldn't be as big a deal if Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey were performing well. But Dorsey remains miscast as a 3-4 end, while Jackson only recently started playing as a consistent starter. But when you pick players in the top five, you expect something much better than a "consistent starter'.
The Chiefs' options at end also complicate matters. Allen Bailey looked good in spot work last season, and there are plenty of respectable 3-4 ends who'll be available later in the draft (such as Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati).
That doesn't entirely take Brockers out of the running; Dorsey and Jackson both are nearing the end of their contracts. It certainly doesn't help his case either, though.
Offensive Tackle/Guard Riley Reiff, Iowa
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Right now for Kansas City, the biggest opportunities to come in and start right away are at offensive guard. The Chiefs shored up their right tackle position with Eric Winston but need competition at guard following Ryan Lilja's down year in 2011.
Riley Reiff could be the solution Kansas City needs. With Lilja coming to the end of the contract after this year, Reiff and Jon Asamoah can compete with him for the two starting roles easily enough.
Reiff would also provide insurance against Branden Albert. Having played tackle throughout college, he knows the position and could make the transition in 2013 if need be. He's only recently started getting looks at guard due to his shorter-than-average arm span.
That issue doesn't stop Joe Thomas, though.
Reiff also comes from Iowa, which should grant him a slight advantage. Given Scott Pioli's friendship with Kirk Ferentz, odds are few people have as much information as the Chiefs do on Reiff.
All of this stacks the odds in favor of Kansas City adding another Iowa alum to their roster.
Offensive Guard David DeCastro, Stanford
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The biggest thing that could derail Riley Reiff's selection by the Chiefs is David DeCastro.
Reiff certainly has plenty of talent and credentials, but if Kansas City finds DeCastro available when they're on the clock, Scott Pioli will be hard-pressed not to select him.
True, DeCastro lacks the versatility Reiff brings to the table. He's a true guard, and those guys need to be something special to warrant first-round selection.
Fortunately for DeCastro, he is just that. He brings the complete skill set package and draws comparisons to Steve Hutchinson. A team could plug in DeCastro at either guard position and be set for the next ten years.
That's the type of draft pick Kansas City should be looking for. The only possibility of the Chiefs missing on him would be for another lineman-hungry team trading up for him (i.e. the Dallas Cowboys).