The return of Branden Albert to Kansas City might cost Luke Joeckel the top spot in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The team holding the No.1 overall pick of the NFL Draft is supposed to have lots of holes to fill, or at least a big glaring one. After all, they were the worst team in the league the previous season.
The Colts needed a quarterback last year after releasing Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck was an obvious choice with the first pick. Same case for the Panthers in 2011. With Jimmy Clausen under center the previous season, going with Cam Newton was an easy call. We could keep going back, and most years we’d see a predictable selection.
That won’t be the case for the Chiefs this April. They finished 2-14 last year, but there’s plenty of talent on the roster. In fact, Kansas City had six players selected to this year’s Pro Bowl. That was more than the Bengals, Colts, Falcons, Packers and Redskins, who all made the playoffs.
They have a game-breaking running back in Jamaal Charles and a playmaking safety in Eric Berry. The linebacker trio of Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston is one of the best in the league.
And by trading for quarterback Alex Smith and re-signing wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs have plugged a couple of their bigger holes.
We haven’t even gotten to the offensive line yet. It’s a rock-solid unit. Tackle Branden Albert got the franchise tag and will be back for 2013 after missing four games this past season. Tackle Eric Winston is a stalwart on the other end, and interior linemen Jeff Allen, Jon Asamoah and center Rodney Hudson form a young, talented interior.
So where does that leave the Chiefs heading into the draft?
It won’t be a quarterback with the first overall pick. Kansas City paid a steep price to acquire Smith. He’s their man. And there isn’t a quarterback worthy of the top spot this year anyways.
Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel has been a popular pick for the Chiefs in mock drafts and he could still be Kansas City's guy. But the offensive line looks set after Albert was slapped with the franchise tag. The Chiefs could move Albert inside to guard, but he’s made it pretty clear that he’s not interested in such a move.
Ideally, the Chiefs could trade out of the No. 1 spot and stockpile picks, but that’s never easy. And it’d be even tougher this year with no clear-cut top prospect.
Assuming the Chiefs stay in that top spot, their target might be Florida’s Shariff Floyd. The 6’3", 298-pounder’s stock is on the rise, and he’d fit as a 5-technique defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. Other options include Oregon linebacker Dion Jordon and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner.
But with no glaring needs—and no clear top prospect in the class—the Chiefs’ selection with the first pick in April’s draft figures to be a mystery until they step up to the podium.