NFL Draft 2013: The Kansas City Chiefs May Surprise with the First Overall Pick
For the first time in franchise history, the Kansas City Chiefs will have the first overall selection in next month's NFL draft. And in typical Chiefs fashion, expect their selection to buck the trend set by other NFL teams in recent years.
Over the past 15 seasons, just three NFL teams have used the first overall pick on anything but a franchise quarterback. And while Chiefs fans have been begging the franchise to draft and develop a quarterback every season since the disaster of drafting Penn State's Todd Blackledge in 1983, don't expect the Chiefs to use the first pick in 2013's NFL draft on a quarterback.
The Chiefs, unconvinced by the quarterback talent in this season's draft class, have agreed to a deal with San Francisco that will net them a new starting quarterback in Alex Smith, 2005's first overall pick.
The move seemingly allows the Chiefs to marry their needs with a draft class light on offensive talent beyond the offensive line and heavy on defensive playmakers. While many expect general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid to select Texas A&M's star offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, there are several scenarios that make a lot of sense for the Chiefs with the top pick. But let's look first at the most obvious.
Luke Joeckel: Texas A&M Offensive Tackle
NFL expert Gil Brandt compares Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel to Browns All-Pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Given his performance at the NFL combine, Joeckel hasn't done anything to hurt that comparison.
Chiefs left tackle Brandon Albert is coming off a season in which he missed three games due to injury. He is in a contract situation where the Chiefs could put the franchise tag on him, sign him to a long-term deal, or let him go in free agency.
While the Chiefs are in the same situation with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, it remains likely that they will re-sign both players.
If the team does indeed retain Albert, drafting Joeckel will put the team in a situation where they could ask Albert to move back to guard, where he played in college at Virginia. Albert has openly said that he does not want to move from left tackle to guard, but if the Chiefs are willing to pay him left tackle money to do it, he may have no choice.
An offensive line of Joeckel, Albert, Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah, and Eric Winston would surely put a smile on new quarterback Alex Smith's face, and provide running back Jamaal Charles with plenty of openings to break off the game-breaking runs for which he is known.
Star Lotulelei: Utah Defensive Lineman
After using the team's first-round picks in 2008 and 2009 on underwhelming former LSU defensive linemen Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, the Chiefs used yet another of their top picks on Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe last year.
While there are probably plenty of Chiefs fans who will want to jump off a bridge if the Chiefs select yet another defensive lineman with their top pick, it's also very likely Utah's Star Lotulelei is much better than Dorsey, Jackson and Poe.
The time is right for the team to make a move for a player like Lotulelei.
A free agent, Dorsey will likely try to sign with a team that uses a 4-3, so he can move back inside after spending the past five seasons playing out of position as a 3-4 end.
Jackson, who has underachieved after being selected third overall, is due $17.4 million in 2013. The team will either cut ties with him and save $14.7 million or restructure his deal to keep him for a lot less.
As far as Chiefs fans are concerned, very few will be sad to see either Dorsey or Jackson playing elsewhere in 2013. The team must find at least one, and possibly two, new 3-4 defensive ends.
Lotulelei is considered by many to be a fit at both nose tackle and 3-4 end.
That would make him a perfect fit for a Chiefs team that could move physical freak Poe outside to end, allowing Lotulelei to play nose, where many consider him to be the next Haloti Ngata.
Chance Warmack: Alabama Offensive Guard
The last time a team selected an offensive guard with the top overall pick was 1961, when the Buffalo Bills selected Auburn's Ken Rice.
Rice played just six seasons and was an All-Pro in one of them, two stats Alabama's Chance Warmack will likely surpass in his NFL career, barring injury.
The Chiefs have a need at guard. With aging veteran Ryan Lilja becoming a free agent and not likely to be re-signed, the team may look for options better than its two former University of Illinois guards, Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah.
Warmack has been an elite talent since high school and will start on day one for whichever NFL team invests a first-round pick on him. The question here isn't whether Warmack is worth the top pick, as much as it is whether the Chiefs value him over their current guards enough to look past the other players on this list.
Dee Milliner: Alabama Cornerback
The Chiefs made a decision last season to let cornerback Brandon Carr go in free agency, replacing him with free agent Stanford Routt.
Needless to say, in a division that saw the addition of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to the Broncos, the lack of a standout corner opposite Brandon Flowers hurt the Chiefs, who had just seven interceptions as a team.
Unlike the smaller Flowers, who uses technique and positioning to make plays, Milliner would bring a bigger, faster presence to the Chiefs secondary. At 6'0" and 201 pounds, Milliner isn't afraid to take on larger receivers, and he can run with any receiver he will face at the next level.
While Milliner would be a fantastic fit for the Chiefs defense, cornerback is yet another position not typically valued high enough to be targeted with the first overall pick. And with plenty of free-agent cornerback options out there, Milliner isn't likely to entice the Chiefs into selecting him.
Cordarrelle Patterson: Tennessee Wide Receiver
While the chances of the Chiefs not re-signing or using the franchise tag on wide receiver Dwayne Bowe would seem remote, if Bowe isn't signed prior to draft day, the team will have to look hard at Tennessee's Cordarelle Patterson.
Patterson broke virtually all the receiving records at Hutchinson Community College to become the top-ranked JUCO player in the country before heading to Tennessee.
With the Volunteers, Patterson was able to use his good size (6'2" and 216 lbs) on his way to becoming the SEC's best all-around player. He is a receiver who will remind many of Bowe or Denver's Demaryius Thomas, but he is also an accomplished kick and punt returner.
If the Chiefs do not re-sign Bowe and choose not to put the franchise tag on him, selecting Patterson may be the only way to provide new quarterback Alex Smith with an opportunity to complete a pass downfield.