2013 Mock Draft: How to Improve the Kansas City Chiefs in 7 Rounds
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The Kansas City Chiefs have managed to do the unthinkable. They have messed up having the first overall pick in the NFL Draft before even making it. Sure, the team did not plan on this season being such a disaster, but the fact that it has been puts Kansas City in a tough situation.
The team is in desperate need of a quarterback, and the 2013 NFL Draft Class does not have a quarterback worth taking with the first overall pick. In fact there is not a quarterback worth drafting in the top ten, according to Scouts Inc.’s prospect grades.
Fortunately—or more like unfortunately—the team has other areas of need that might allow them to get more value with their picks. While quarterback issues have been the primary reasons for the Chiefs' 2-12 start, their other holes are undeniable. The team lacks a credible receiving threat with Dwayne Bowe out, and has a glaring lack of depth at tight end and on the offensive line. On defense, the team could use a second cornerback, safety depth, a middle linebacker to play beside Derrick Johnson, and help at defensive end.
The task sounds daunting, but the right draft could go a long way towards turning the team around. With any luck the Chiefs can be improved in just seven rounds.
So who should the team take first?
Round 1: Manti Te'o, Linebacker
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I have already done a write-up on Te'o here, but to give a refresher, Te'o combines good size—6’1", 248lbs—with outstanding production and leadership. He has helped Notre Dame return to prominence during his time at the school and is a great on-field leader. He has had 100+ tackles in three of his four years at South Bend and has improved his coverage skills to the tune of seven interceptions this season.
Three-down linebackers with great physical gifts and leadership abilities do not grow on trees. That is why Te'o is worthy of the first overall pick. He would turn a strength of the Chiefs defense into a match-up nightmare.
Many people will call for a quarterback in this spot, and understandably so. If the Chiefs are able to trade down, it might be a viable option. Unfortunately, it would be a massive overdraft to take any of the quarterbacks in this draft class first overall.
Still, for those pandering for a quarterback, Mike Glennon of North Carolina State is likely the most viable option. Glennon’s upside and physical ability are undeniable, but his uneven performances have raised doubts.
Geno Smith also sits at the top of the quarterback class and has put up amazing numbers. Unfortunately, Smith is raw in terms of footwork and accuracy. He also has seen his performances suffer against elite competition.
For these reasons, the Chiefs should wait on a quarterback in the draft.
Round 2: David Amerson, Cornerback
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Can the Chiefs really afford to push back taking a quarterback another round?
Yes, because David Amerson fills a need and has the potential to be an impact corner. Amerson combines good size—he is 6’2", 193 lbs—with solid speed at the cornerback position. He is not just a physical specimen, though, as Amerson’s on-field production is nearly unrivaled in college football: He picked off THIRTEEN passes as a sophomore corner.
So why is Amerson going to be available in the second round? He had an awful performance in NC State’s season opener against Tennessee. Tyler Bray (Tennessee’s quarterback) and his receiving corps repeatedly beat Amerson in man coverage. Amerson has rebounded nicely since, but his stock has suffered. Still, he likely would not be asked to play as much man coverage with the Chiefs and would be a great zone coverage corner if Kansas City stays with its current defensive scheme.
He is a good buy-low candidate in the draft, much like Brandon Flowers once was.
Tyler Bray, Quarterback
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The man who picked David Amerson apart is no slouch. At 6’6", 215 lbs, Bray has the size NFL scouts dream of. He also has the arm strength that teams want. There is not a throw on the football field that Bray can’t make.
Unfortunately, this often gets him into trouble. Bray can, at times, trust his arm strength too much. Additionally, he is not as advanced at reading defenses as other quarterbacks in this draft class.
The other weakness that gets Bray into trouble is his inconsistent accuracy. A little film study will show you that this is directly related to his footwork. Bray has a bad tendency to throw off his back foot and often does not step into his throws. This is likely the reason why he has yet to complete 60% of his passes in a season during his college career.
Still, while Bray is raw, he brings a gunslinger's mentality to the game. If his decision-making and immaturity cause him to fall to the third round, the Chiefs must pounce. They very well could find their quarterback of the future in doing so.
T.J. McDonald, Safety
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The Trojan safety would provide quality depth to the Chiefs secondary and also has some serious upside. McDonald has 96 tackles this year along with two interceptions.
While he may never be elite in run support due to his lackluster tackling ability, McDonald’s ability to cover tight ends and slot receivers would be a welcome addition to the team. He would provide the Chiefs with a viable option in case of injuries and may even help immediately in passing situations due to his above average cover skills.
Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback/Kick Returner
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The "Honey Badger" represents the ultimate case of risk vs. reward in the draft.
At first glance a 5’9", 176-pound cornerback does not seem worth the trouble. Add in the fact that Mathieu has had drug problems in the past, and spent the last year in rehab after being kicked off LSU’s team, and he seems like even more of a risk.
His off-field struggles don’t tell the whole story though. Despite his small size and maturity issues, the Honey Badger offers unparalleled ball skills and instincts. He plays with a fearlessness that is contagious and has a knack for making big plays when it matters. He may well prove to be a sort of super nickel back in the right situation.
As an added bonus, Mathieu is an excellent kick returner and could likely give the Chiefs a spark there as well. He may not be a part of the “Right 53”, but the Honey Badger deserves a chance and could be part of a winning 53.
Izaan Cross, Defensive End
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Izaan Cross is a 6’4", 290-pound defensive end from Georgia Tech. He has the chance to provide quality depth for a 3-4 team right away and could have some upside down the line.
Cross is strong and has proved steady against the run. The biggest knock on Cross is that he possesses only a marginal ability to rush the passer. This is because he lacks the elite burst to get to the quarterback, and, as a result, has marginal range in run support as well.
Still, Cross provides value and projects as a potential Tyson Jackson-type player—that’s a compliment for a sixth round pick, I swear—later the draft.
Lane Taylor, Guard
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The guard from Oklahoma State sports a 6’2", 320-pound frame. Taylor has been a four-year starter in college, and has shown some ability to run block due to his nice combination of size and strength.
Taylor unfortunately lacks elite athleticism and struggles in open space, be it in run or pass blocking. Still, his intelligence, toughness and durability could allow him to provide some nice depth down the line.
What more can you really ask for in round seven?