Kansas City Chiefs: 10 Players the Team Must Circle on Its 2013 Draft Board

Brett Gering@BrettGeringCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs: 10 Players the Team Must Circle on Its 2013 Draft Board

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    The 2013 NFL Draft is still more than six months away (April 25–27), but many Kansas City Chiefs fans are already turning the page to next offseason. 

    Week 6 is in the books, and a disappointing Chiefs squad has only one win to its name. But that's not the most egregious statistic. 

    Coming off of a bye, the 1-5 Chiefs will enter the eighth week of the 2012 NFL season without ever owning a lead during regulation. Not for one single second. 

    Obviously, the roster could use some tinkering. 

    There are ten players that Arrowhead noisemakers should keep an eye on—they may end up cheering for a few of them next fall (and no, not when they're injured). 

10. Margus Hunt (DE, Southern Methodist)

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    Class: Senior, 6'3", 315 pounds

    Projected Round: 2-4

    Margus Hunt is a wild card. 

    The native Estonian is just as likely to skyrocket up mock drafts as he is to fizzle out and nosedive. 

    At 6'8" and 280 pounds, Hunt is a load to deal with for any offensive tackle, but his most notable contributions derive from special teams. The defensive end has currently blocked 17 kicks throughout his ongoing collegiate career (Sports-Reference.com). 

    His height is a gift and a curse, though. His pad level normally towers over blockers, giving them the upper hand in a battle for leverage. 

    Hunt is still relatively new to the game itself. Due to this, his instincts are underdeveloped, and he commonly looks bamboozled post-snap. He's a physical specimen out of Conference USA, whose unique frame carries a wealth of untapped potential.

    Remind you of anyone?

9. William Gholston (DE, Michigan State)

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    Class: Junior, 6'7", 278 pounds

    Projected Round: 2-3

    When taking a glimpse at William Gholston, his frame mirrors that of the prototypical edge-rusher. However, that's actually the weakest aspect of his game.

    Gholston is a run-stuffing specialist that could offer immediate assistance to Kansas City's No. 22-ranked rush defense (NFL.com). But much like his cousin, Vernon, the junior defensive end attracts his share of skeptics—many of whom question his dedication. 

    Considering that, it's doubtful that the Chiefs would gamble on Gholston with a second-round pick—nobody could blame them for being wary. But if he slips another round, his potential could warrant an early third-round selection.

    Gholston will need to pack on a few pounds, and he probably won't make a significant impact in his rookie campaign. 

    But it could turn out to be a long-term investment that eventually pays dividends. 

8. Trey Millard (FB, Oklahoma)

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    Class: Junior, 6'2", 249 pounds

    Projected Round: 4-5

    Fullbacks are constantly overlooked and unappreciated. 

    Trey Millard will be a coveted member of whichever team plucks him from the board. He's a dynamic fullback, which is still a rarity in football. Millard's a receiving threat out of the backfield, a downhill rusher and his blocks disrespect chin straps. 

    The position is seldom credited with any share of a team's success. But history, at least in Kansas City, proves that might be a mistake. 

    Dating back to the '90s, Kansas City's best teams—excluding the 2010 squad—featured a fullback who played a prominent role in the offense. Obviously, they never garnered the attention that the quarterbacks and tailbacks received, but their dirty work never went unnoticed by the local die-hards.

    Kimble Anders finished with at least 50 receptions in five of his 10 seasons. The year following Tony Richardson's departure, Larry Johnson's yards-per-carry average dropped from 5.2 to 4.3.

    The position isn't glamorous, but it is important.

    A fourth or fifth-round pick is a small price to pay for providing support to the team's biggest asset, Jamaal Charles. 

7. Matt Elam (SS, Florida)

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    Class: Junior, 5'10", 202 pounds

    Projected Round: 2–3

    Anybody that has watched a Florida Gators game in the past four weeks remembers No. 22. Matt Elam is an undersized strong safety that has a nose for the ball.

    His name began soaring through draft boards following Florida's 37-20 victory over Tennessee. Elam was a one-man ambush, tallying 10 tackles, one sack and an interception (Sports-Reference.com).

    And he hasn't looked back.

    Elam sealed a win against LSU this season, negating a much-needed downfield strike for the Tigers by stripping the ball at the last second.

    If the junior's recent play remains a trend throughout 2012, he could potentially crack the first round. If so, he won't be packing his bags for Kansas City. However, if he falls to the second or third round, the Chiefs may show some interest.

    Eric Berry has rehabbed from a torn ACL, and Kendrick Lewis has been riddled with multiple injuries since the end of last season. Obviously, Berry is cemented as the starting safety for the foreseeable future. But Lewis' job isn't as secure, and Matt Elam's speed and coverage skills would allow him to make the jump to free safety rather easily. 

    No matter what, Kansas City desperately needs added depth at safety—quarterbacks hoodwink Abram Elam and Travis Daniels on a weekly basis. 

6. Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)

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    Class: Senior, 6'3", 315 pounds

    Projected Round: 1-2

    Kawann Short is 305-pound road block...when he wants to be. 

    He has the potential to be a jack-of-all-trades. Short's oppressive strength clogs rushing lanes with ease, his explosiveness makes him a formidable pass-rusher and his reach enables him to swat passes like J.J. Watt. 

    But his motor tends to downshift at times, resulting in uninspired effort.

    Kansas City will only give Short a look if he crosses into the second round. But if he does, the Chiefs will be intrigued by the idea.

    Glenn Dorsey is an unrestricted free agent heading into next offseason, and the organization has been less than thrilled with Tyson Jackson's progression. Kansas City's defense currently allows 4.7 yards per carry—only four teams average more (NFL.com). 

    The chances of both Dorsey and Jackson opening 2013 as Chiefs starters are slim. If Dorsey bids farewell, or if Jackson takes a backseat, Short could be a prime candidate to convert to defensive end.

5. Shayne Skov (ILB, Stanford)

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    Class: Senior, 6'3", 242 pounds

    Projected Round: 2–3

    If Kansas Citians' wishes are granted and the club spends its first-round choice on a quarterback, one linebacker's name will undoubtedly surface the next time that Scott Pioli is on the clock—Shayne Skov.

    Revolting fist pump, screaming mohawk and Steve Lattimer-like eyeblack—Skov looks like he's one or two Cuervo nights away from sharing screen credits with Johnny Knoxville. 

    Good. The Chiefs could use some fire on defense. 

    Skov is a 250-pound bottle of unmitigated aggression. He shows natural instincts for the position and has proven to be a reliable tackler who approaches every attempt like its his last. Skov is also a better-than-average defender when dropping into zone coverage. 

    The Stanford standout lined up in a 3-4 scheme throughout his college career—as opposed to other prospects such as Kansas State's Arthur Brown—making a seamless transition to the Chiefs defense more probable.

4. Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas)

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    Class: Senior, 6'2", 218 pounds

    Projected Round: 1

    As the draft nears, quarterback value is often inflated. Desperation trumps value, reward outweighs risk and general managers blow on the dice. 

    In all likelihood, history will repeat itself in 2013, and Tyler Wilson will be the beneficiary. 

    Wilson has stared at more adversity this season than any other quarterback prospect. His head coach, Bobby Petrino, was fired. On top of that, Wilson lost a trio of receiving threats and left the second game of this season (ESPN) with concussion-like symptoms (subsequently missing Arkansas' contest against Alabama). 

    The gunslinger has all of the tools required to be a successful NFL quarterback. His arm is a cannon and footballs are his ammunition. He has repeatedly testified to the fact that he is willing to take a hit for the sake of a better throw. Wilson's also mobile enough to prolong plays with his feet outside of the pocket.

    However, inconsistent play has marred him this year, and it's partially due to a lack of on-field discipline. At times, an overconfident arm tries to defy the odds and pinpoint passes that have little room for error. The senior, at times, also tends to get lazy with his mechanics while under duress. 

    All of Wilson's flaws are correctable. If he finishes this season in the same fashion as he did 2011, he could easily be a top-10 pick. If inconsistencies continue to haunt him, Wilson won't get the call until the latter half of the first round. 

3. Manti Te'o (ILB, Notre Dame)

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    Class: Senior, 6'2", 215 pounds

    Projected Round: 1

    Let's say that the unfathomable—or expected, depending on how you look at it—happens, and Kansas City's front office elects not to draft a quarterback in the first round for the 30th consecutive season. 

    Maybe the Baltimore Ravens let Joe Flacco walk to Kansas City. (And Lil Jon auditions for Hamlet, TMZ posts photos of a keg-standing Tim Tebow and M. Night Shyamalan releases a movie that doesn't suck you dry of happiness.)

    Or better yet, the Chiefs refuse to sign Dwayne Bowe and trade him for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Given the team's track record, that sounds more plausible. If Kansas City, somehow, doesn't select a quarterback in the first round of the 2013 draft, the best (or least-worst?) alternative would be drafting inside linebacker Manti Te'o. 

    Te'o can do it all: pass rush, shed blocks and effectively cover. Jovan Belcher, Kansas City's current starter, struggles with all three. Notre Dame's defensive threat would also supply the leadership that the Chiefs defense sorely lacks.

    Te'o will likely hear his name announced near the middle of the first round. 

2. Matt Barkley (QB, Southern California)

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    Class: Senior, 6'2", 230 pounds

    Projected Round: 1

    Matt Barkley's draft stock has dropped considerably this season. The USC star's performances have fluctuated between brilliant and underwhelming. In three games (Hawaii, Syracuse and Utah), Barkley has combined to throw 13 touchdowns with only one interception. In a trio of other contests (Stanford, California and Washington), his three touchdowns were shadowed by five picks (Sports-Reference.com). 

    Unlike Geno Smith, Barkley does operate in a pro-style offense. His arm strength is better than average but, not elite. While he shows a firm grasp of the offense, his decision-making comes under fire at times.

    But the potential is there. On the field, Barkley consistently shows the intangibles of a franchise quarterback.

    He's a proven leader that wills his team to the finish line, despite the odds. Barkley looks off safeties, creating a larger window to throw into. He also flaunts a revered pump fake that has become a signature component of his game. 

    By next April, Matt Barkley could end up being a top-five pick, he could just as easily plummet to the middle of the first round, though. The quarterback's landing spot largely depends on his ability to negate a shoddy offensive line. 

    But no matter how he finishes, the heralded passer would be a significant upgrade under center for the Chiefs. 

1. Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)

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    Class: Senior, 6'3", 220 pounds

    Projected Round: 1 

    At this point, Geno Smith is the ideal first-round selection for Kansas City. However, if Scott Pioli—assuming that he is still employed—picks him, the Chiefs general manager will likely have to part ways with some valuable bargaining chips via trade. Kansas City is bad, but the team is too talented to finish with the NFL's worst record. 

    But a potential trade would be worth it—ask a Washington Redskins fan. 

    Smith was a lock for the No. 1 pick before last Saturday's debacle at Texas Tech. But overall, his 2012 stat line (2271 YDS, 25 TD, 0 INT) remains drenched in worship (Sports-Reference.com). Last season, the dual-threat playmaker also posted 465 yards against the vaunted LSU defense. 

    Smith's pocket presence is second to none in college football—he consistently demonstrates a sixth sense that alerts him to nearby pass-rushers. He shows unwavering poise, breakaway speed and patient progression while dissecting coverage. 

    But laser-like accuracy headlines his list of selling points. Smith has completed 75.3 percent of his passes this season. The senior has also added a vastly improved deep ball to his repertoire—a facet of Matt Cassel's game that has never developed.

    Pairing a rusher like Jamaal Charles with Geno Smith would create a pick-your-poison predicament for defenses. Accurate downfield passers wake up drooling when they imagine an elusive blur like No. 25 in the backfield. 

    The results would leave fans wiping their chins, too.