Kansas City Chiefs 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis
With eight picks in this year’s NFL draft, including the No. 11 overall selection, the Kansas City Chiefs have an opportunity to get right back into the competitive mix known as the AFC West with a series of solid selections.
It may seem to the passerby that the Chiefs have needs aplenty on both sides of the ball. Are Romeo Crennel’s Kansas City Chiefs really that far away from contending for the AFC West crown? Some feel they’re just a defensive back or offensive tackle away from returning to their 2011 form that saw them win the division.
With the most picks in the division (along with San Diego’s eight slotted selections), the Chiefs have a chance to improve overall in a very winnable division.
Start here and stay here for the most comprehensive Chiefs coverage and real-time analysis of this year’s main event from start to finish.
Kansas City Chiefs Draft Overview
The thought that a majority of the Chiefs picks will be used on the defensive side of the football started true to form, though in somewhat surprising fashion for Kansas City, with the drafting of Memphis DT Dontari Poe.
Below is when each of Kansas City’s picks are due to come off the board, so stay tuned for updates and make sure to click through to each slide to get more information and updates about each new member of the Chiefs.
Round 1, Pick 11: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Round 2, Pick 12 (44th Overall): Jeff Allen, OT Illinois
Round 3, Pick 11 (74th Overall): Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 12 (107th Overall): Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
Round 5, Pick 11 (146th Overall): De'Quan Menzie, CB, Alabama
Round 6, Pick 12 (182nd Overall): Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
Round 7, Pick 11 (218th Overall): Jerome Long DT, San Diego State
Round 7, Pick 31 (238th Overall, From Patriots): Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan
Round 1, Pick 11: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Hoping to add some size and strength to last season's suspect rushing defense, the Chiefs went after Memphis big man Dontari Poe with the first of their eight picks.
Following all-conference-type Freshman and Sophomore campaigns, more was expected than received out of Poe for his junior year at Memphis. Still, and despite that, Poe amazed draft experts and scouts at the NFL Combine, showcasing the size and speed of a slightly smaller man.
His impressive bench press and 40-yard-dash times showed how much upside he had, and head coach Romeo Crennel couldn't pass on him, especially when faced with a defense that was nearly last in pressuring opposing quarterbacks in 2011.
Poe is quick off the ball for a big defensive tackle. His strength and explosiveness, combined with his speed, are all strengths of his that made him attractive.
Knocks on Poe in the past have been in relation to his techniques and ability to fight off blocks, especially for a bigger, stronger guy. Some analysts have also questioned his effort and passion. But it appears his combine performance has put those concerns to bed—for the Chiefs especially.
If Poe can learn to use his body size and leverage to get off blocks, he'll likely have a long career stuffing the middle of the line on Sundays.
Not many mocks had Poe going quite this high, but for a team in desperate need of big, strong linemen in the middle of the defensive line, the Chiefs could have certainly done worse. Based on what Poe had accomplished in his three years at Memphis, he's shown enough talent and ability to make this a minimal-risk pick for Kansas City.
As long as Poe can stay in shape and take advantage of fine-tuning his technique with NFL position coaches, the Chiefs got themselves a solid nose-tackle-style guy to possibly build a defense around.
Round 2, Pick 12: Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
A four-year starter at Illinois, Jeff Allen is thought to have the versatility to play both tackle and guard on both the left and right sides of the offensive line at the next level.
At 6-4, 307 pounds, Allen's got the size of a Sunday OT and moves well for a man that large. Still, many draft experts didn't have Allen going quite as high as the Chiefs selected him.
Again, with his ability to play in multiple areas on the O-Line and his body size, he's got the look of a top NFL lineman. He is smart and disciplined player and moves well laterally.
The primary concerns that perhaps had some draft experts burying him a little lower in the overall offensive tackle rankings were that he can get beat to spots at times. Additionally, although he can play each spot well enough to be considered on a two-deep depth chart, he doesn't really have an identity to excel at any one position.
If this pick happens in the fifth or sixth round, it's a much higher grade. This early in the second round seems like a bit of a reach for a Chiefs offensive line that's slightly below average in protecting the quarterback.
Round 3, Pick 11: Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma
The Chiefs didn't hide their desire to instantly upgrade their offensive line when they made Oklahoma's Donald Stephenson the second-straight OT selection in this year's NFL draft.
Stephenson, a 6-6, 312-pound blindside tackle, was a consistent starter for the last two seasons at Oklahoma.
STRENGTHS: Stephenson's got good footwork and is quick for a big lineman. He does a good job in pass protection, which at the left tackle, a blindside position, is of vital importance to the quarterback's health.
WEAKNESSES: He's not considered to be one of the draft's most explosive offensive lineman. Yes, he's quick, but he's not powerful or strong enough to overwhelm opposing defenders often at the professional level.
This was kind of a peculiar pick considering there were offensive linemen ranked higher by most experts still available at the time of his selection. It's also curious that the Chiefs selected back-to-back offensive linemen. Stephenson might get a good grade in the sixth or seventh round, but it's hard to find many mocks that had him off the board in the second day.
Round 4, Pick 12: Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
Looking to add offensive weapons, the Chiefs selected Fresno State wide receiver Devon Wylie, though this is another potentially head-scratching selection by Romeo Crennel and company.
If considered a wideout pick, then it's questionable. If selected as special teams star, then it's got the potential to be a brilliant move.
Wylie appeared on several publications' All-American lists as a punt returner last season after finishing fifth in the nation with 15.38 yards per return with a pair of TDs. He was also a second-team All-WAC selection for special teams.
As a receiver, he led the Bulldogs with 56 receptions.
STRENGTHS: Again, his return skills and abilities are not in question. He's quick and can be a huge weapon in the field position game. He makes good decisions and cuts in space when returning punts.
As a receiver, speed is also his obvious strength, and he runs strong, crisp routes. He can be a great option in the screen game and could pile up some yards-after-catch stats.
WEAKNESSES: At 5-9, 187 pounds, Wylie is undersized as a receiver. And even as a returner, he's going to take a beating, which can be costly on his smaller frame.
Additionally, Wylie is already injury prone, having received a medical redshirt for missing the 2010 season, as well as missing four game apiece in 2008 and 2009.
He did rebound from his injury plagued seasons to have a strong senior season in 2011, but with such a small frame, and playing such a dangerous position, this seems like a risky pick for the Chiefs to take this high.
If he stays healthy, and bulks up, he can be a difference-maker on special teams.
Round 5, Pick 11: De'Quan Menzie, CB, Alabama
Although sometimes overshadowed at Alabama by opposite position-mate Dre Kirkpatrick, Da'Quan Menzie was no slouch as a starter for an impressive Crimson Tide defense.
The 2011 All-American led the Tide in pass breakups and routinely led the secondary in tackles for loss.
STRENGTHS: His blitzing speed is why he was around the football a lot. He was often used in corner blitzes and was quite disruptive in the opposing backfield.
And as good as he was in that regard, Menzie's true strength was his cover skills. He has great instincts, footwork and anticipation. Additionally, Menzie's a good hitter and great tackler, which are the rare positives defensive coaches look for in whole-package corners.
WEAKNESSES: Occasionally Menzie takes unnecessary risks in man coverage and can get burned as a result, which would be worse if he didn't possess solid recovery speed.
At 5-10, 195 pounds, Menzie's not your ideally sized corner, in terms of length.
If Menzie can be put into the right situations so that the Chiefs are able to utilize him in blitz packages and to add depth as a cover-corner, this isn't a terribly risky pick for Kansas City.
Round 6, Pick 12: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
Adding to an already deep and talented running back depth chart, the Chiefs didn't do anything but improve that group with a solid selection of Texas A&M's talented running back Cyrus Gray, especially this late in the draft.
After rushing for over 1,000 yards with 12 touchdowns in 11 games in 2011, Gray earned second-team All-Big 12 honors for the Aggies. Despite starting only seven of 13 games in 2010, Gray led the team with 1,133 rushing yards to go along with his 12 scores, earning him an honorable mention all-conference selection, and received the same honor as a sophomore in 2009.
The powerful 5-10, 205-pound Gray is a workhorse, having carried the ball more than 630 times in his A&M career. With those touches, Gray accumulated nearly 3,300 career yards and scored 30 touchdowns on the ground.
STRENGTHS: Gray is the full package. He can obviously run the football, but he's also a solid blocker and a strong receiver option out of the backfield. He's got great moves in the open field and runs well in space, which makes him a screen-passing-game threat.
He's s strong runner as well, and is a physical runner when he needs to be.
WEAKNESSES: Although he's fast, he's not considered a burner, especially at the professional level. It's more a question of his initial acceleration than it is his separation speed. He's also received questionable reviews for his ability to pick up a blitzing linebacker in pass protection.
The longer the draft goes, the better the Chiefs picks look.
This selection of Gray has late-round steal written all over it. Sure, it's a crowded backfield in Kansas City, but this kid will see the field one way or another. Gray probably should have been selected a couple of rounds ago, so this is a great pick for Romeo Crennel's team.
Round 7, Pick 11: Jerome Long DT, San Diego State
The Chiefs selected their second defensive tackle of this year's NFL draft by grabbing Jerome Long with the 218th overall pick. Kansas City also selected DT Dontari Poe with its first, and the draft's 11th, overall pick.
Long doesn't quite have the name or ability of Poe, but the 6-5, 285-pound Aztec appeared as an all-conference selection in the Mountain West for two-consecutive seasons for various publications.
STRENGTHS: Long has a nose for the football for a big man, as he was second on the team in tackles, sacks, tackles-for-loss and was second in conference among defensive linemen with nearly six tackles per game.
Although primarily listed as a defensive tackle, he's got the body type and frame of a defensive end at the next level. That is, of course, if he can improve his strength and technique.
WEAKNESSES: Never an overall standout on his team, other than just being a solid football player. Not an overwhelming skill set, but has the potential to serve in a few roles as a backup.
Not an eye-opening selection that will be viewed as one of this year's steals of the draft, also not an overly risky pick for this late in the seventh round.
Round 7, Pick 31: Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan
Kansas City rounded out the draft with a potential sleeper, as far as playmakers are concerned, with the seventh-round selection of Michigan's Junior Hemingway.
Hemingway was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last year after leading the team with 34 receptions and nearly 700 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The 6-1, 225-pound wideout also finished strong, as he was named last year's Sugar Bowl MVP.
STRENGTHS: For sure, Hemingway is a gifted athlete who is capable to adding depth to the receiving corps if not at least certain special teams units. He's a strong enough receiver with good enough hands to come down with the ball in traffic and is a decent blocker.
WEAKNESSES: The unknown. Playing with a quarterback like Denard Robinson, who makes plays out of nothing with his legs as often as he does with his arms, it's unknown if Hemingway was underutilized with his skills, or if that was by design with Robinson helping to set him up for success.
Either way, there are things—such as traditional route running—that he'll need to show he can do to see the field as a KC wide receiver.
Not a terrible pick this late in the draft, but one has to wonder if Hemingway is fast enough and physical enough to play with professional corners.