Image created by Brett Gering.
The Kansas City Chiefs' 2013 draft class oozes with potential. But potential often presents a glass-half-full scenario, and the contents usually leave a bitter aftertaste—a healthy portion of the scouting community agrees.
Head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey headlined NFL news after selecting offensive tackle Eric Fisher first overall. While Fisher will undoubtedly be compared to Luke Joeckel, the overwhelming consensus paints both players in a positive light.
On Day 2, Kansas City plucked tight end Travis Kelce and running back Knile Davis from the board. Kelce is capable of becoming the best all-around tight end in the 2013 class. Likewise, Davis flashes the highest ceiling amongst his backfield peers, but injuries marred the bulk of his collegiate career.
The Chiefs opened Day 3 with the selections of inside linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings. Johnson, who leaves Alabama with three championship rings, represents the prototypical hard-nosed run-stuffer. Commings played both cornerback and safety at Georgia, and Reid anticipates that the violent tackler will begin minicamp at free safety.
The franchise concluded its draft by selecting a trio of tough-minded individuals: center Eric Kush, fullback Braden Wilson and defensive end Mike Catapano.
While some applauded the front office's boldness, a number of analysts thought Kansas City turned its draft board into a craps table.
The Chiefs gambled too often for Rob Rang's taste, earning Kansas City his lowest grade within the AFC West. In particular, Rang found the selections of running back Knile Davis and tight end Travis Kelce unnerving.
However, he endorsed the acquisitions of inside linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings.
Rang summarizes his take on the Chiefs draft in saying, "This is a solid class, overall, but, frankly, I would've taken Joeckel with the first pick and thought that the Chiefs gambled too much on upside throughout much of the rest of their draft" (via CBSSports.com).
The Joeckel-versus-Fisher debate will trigger an array of opinions, but the comparison ultimately leads to splitting hairs.
Rang's skepticism of Davis is understandable. The Arkansas running back boasts first-round talent, but an ankle injury erased his entire 2011 season. And when he returned, the junior only managed to average 3.4 yards per carry (via Sports-Reference.com). More concerning, Davis lost 13 fumbles during his three-year collegiate career (via the Kansas City Star).
Dorsey will cross his fingers while hoping that the running back returns to his 2010 form, when he averaged 6.5 yards per carry and posted 13 rushing touchdowns. His 4.37 40 time and 31 bench-press reps (via NFL.com) reveal that Davis still embodies the talent that scouts fell head over heels for. And multiple rushers, from Tiki Barber to Adrian Peterson, have proven that fumbling issues can be rectified.
Mel Kiper Jr., godfather of the mock draft and pompadour aficionado, believed Kansas City assembled the second-best draft of its division.
But he questioned the Chiefs' pair of third-round picks, stating that the club didn't lack tight end talent, and Knile Davis comes packaged with durability issues.
He explained, "I don't think this team has the personnel issues of most teams picking at No. 1, and it showed. Remember, they also got Alex Smith, a proven starting NFL QB, with their second-round pick" (via ESPN).
It's unclear if Kiper factored Smith's addition into his analysis, but the trade plays an integral role in judging the overall puzzle. The quarterback's inclusion spruces up Kansas City's class considerably; without it, the big picture becomes skewed.
In the beginning of his Chiefs review, Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke writes, "The Chiefs could not go wrong choosing between OT Eric Fisher and Joeckel at No. 1. They might have gone wrong after that, depending on how well TE Travis Kelce walks the straight and narrow or when RB Knile Davis can contribute."
Burke brings Kelce's character into question, presumably referring to the tight end's season-long suspension for a failed drug test in 2010. Kelce reassured Kansas City media that the incident isn't indicative of his personality, claiming, "It was a one-time thing. I haven’t touched it since" (via the Kansas City Star).
Judging by his past, the Cincinnati standout may be a little rough around the edges. And character concerns raise more red flags than Beijing.
As long as it's harnessed and guided in the proper direction, Kelce's vigor could actually prove beneficial for the Chiefs. While Kansas City's roster has been abundant with talent in recent seasons, the team has lacked an identity.
Leading by example isn't always ideal in the NFL—at least, not on the field. And in Kansas City's case, the Chiefs could use a vocal spark plug.
Nate Davis viewed Kansas City's draft more optimistically than most.
He contends that picking Eric Fisher and trading for Alex Smith were no-brainers.
Davis is also convinced that Nico Johnson could crack the starting lineup, and Mike Catapano might develop into a seventh-round success story.
In evaluating Knile Davis' selection, he adds, "Fourth-round RB Knile Davis could more effectively assume the battering ram role behind Jamaal Charles after vets Thomas Jones and Peyton Hillis struggled in recent seasons" (via USA Today).
While the Arkansas speedster—who was actually drafted in the latter stages of the third round (No. 96)—will play a key role behind Charles, it likely won't fit the bulldozing persona of Peyton Hillis.
The tailback's metrics, in addition to his 227-pound frame, depict an archetypal power back. However, on tape, Knile Davis rarely displays that kind of mentality—he isn't the second coming of Michael Bush.
The rookie lines up in the backfield as a pure downhill dragster.
As local sports writer Randy Covitz points out, Kansas City's 2013 draft class hinges on the success of Eric Fisher.
He also feels that the collective disinterest in rookie quarterbacks alone justifies the Alex Smith acquisition. And it does. The quarterback class isn't devoid of talent, but none of the prospects are expected to see action in the season-opener.
Covitz notes the significance of Eric Kush's selection as well, stating, "Kelce, Davis, Commings and Wilson will fill roles, and Kush is insurance for Rodney Hudson, who is coming off a broken leg" (via the Kansas City Star).
Hudson suffered the aforementioned injury in Week 3 of last season, and the offensive line subsequently faltered into a state of disarray.
If Andy Reid gained a newfound appreciation for any unit last season, it was for the five men up front. Injuries rendered the Eagles' line ineffective, as the unit was forced to start four new faces by mid-November.
One season later, Kansas City's head coach finds himself installing a fresh offense that will be operated by a new quarterback.
By drafting Fisher and Kush, and retaining Branden Albert, Reid is ensuring the only stains Smith suffers on a weekly basis are barbecue-flavored.
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