Coincidentally, because of that, Kansas City Chiefs general manager and Drago doppelganger John Dorsey—don't get any ideas, Stallone (see Grudge Match...not literally)—must consider one option: trading down.
From May 8-10 of this year, 98 underclassmen will be sitting next to their smart phones, frantically staring holes through them like giddy teens walking toward the porch after prom, all in hopes of calling themselves "draftees."
With 25 more undergrads entering the mix, probability theory hints that this year's draft will boast a richer talent pool than its immediate predecessor. Considering that, and the fact that Dorsey's inaugural season as GM ended with "executive of the year" honors, stacking picks makes that much more sense.
In this instance, quantity and quality aren't mutually exclusive.
Making the Case
Dorsey's 2013 batch of rookies was marred by two IR designations, and said designations just happened to befall the team's two potential steals. Travis Kelce and Sanders Commings (if moved to free safety) show all the makings of eventual, impactful starters.
As for the rest? The oft-injured Eric Fisher allowed only one sack in his final five games. Knile Davis sporadically showed his game-changing ability, helping to etch an NFL record for kick return average. Throw in the subsequent acquisitions of Tyler Bray and Marcus Cooper, two budding but raw prospects, and last year's crop, given the circumstances, holds promise.
Make no mistake, if Dorsey trades out of the first to gain a few of mid-round picks, local loudmouths will, on cue, collectively throw up their arms like pitchfork-waving Planeteers trying to summon the ghost of Silky Johnson.
If the Chiefs trade down, refrain from jumping the gun, mute the armchair Eberts and look at the move through a brighter lens.
The bulk of undergrad entries declare because, while they're handicapped with inexperience, their talent is distinct enough to overcome the void. There are 25 more underclassmen and 32 draft slots per round (compensatory picks aside), which, if hypothetically applied to 2013's draft, means that a group of last year's first-rounders would've slipped into the second round, a band of second-rounders would've reached the third, etc.
In other words, the talent gap between rounds should be considerably slimmer. And remember, even in years past, a gang of the faces on today's posters—Jamaal Charles, Justin Houston and Brandon Flowers, to name a few—were selected after the first 32.
Throughout the last handful of weeks, Chiefs loyalists have ascertained the pros and cons of every first-round receiver and defensive back whom the team might target. By now, you probably know everything short of Kelvin Benjamin's social security number and Ninja Turtle of choice. I'll spare the monotony.
Let's instead take a glance at potential first- to third-round talents whom could satisfy the Chiefs' areas of concern.
|Chiefs' Day 1 and Day 2 Watch list|
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|CB Justin Gilbert||CB Pierre Desir||CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste|
|WR Marqise Lee||DT/DE Stephon Tuitt||CB Loucheiz Purifoy|
|WR Brandin Cooks||WR Kelvin Benjamin||FS Terrence Brooks|
|FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||WR Jordan Matthews||DT/DE Anthony Johnson|
|WR Odell Beckham Jr.||CB Bradley Roby||WR Donte Moncrief|
|FS Calvin Pryor||WR Allen Robinson||C Weston Richburg|
|WR Jarvis Landry||WR Robert Herron|
|WR Davante Adams||CB E.J. Gaines|
|OT Antonio Richardson||CB Keith McGill|
|C Travis Swanson||FS Dion Bailey|
|WR Paul Richardson||WR Josh Huff|
|OT Joel Bitonio|
|G Anthony Steen|
|ILB Shayne Skov|
In reviewing the above big board, one could easily argue that, in terms of immediate impact, plucking a pair of prospects from the latter two columns could trump the idea of taking a single first-rounder.
I've covered the Chiefs' potential first-round targets in the past, so this time, let's put a few more second- and third-rounders under the microscope.
5. Dion Bailey, FS, USC
Dion Bailey isn't the short-term answer for the Chiefs' vacancy at free safety.
USC used Bailey in a variety of ways. On any given play, he could break the huddle as the deep safety, outside linebacker or inside corner. When projecting him to the NFL, free safety is clearly his natural fit, though.
Bailey is still a relative stranger to the position, a fact that periodically reveals itself on tape. At this point in the junior's career, his footwork, particularly when changing direction to guard deep crossers, occasionally puts him at a disadvantage.
On a positive note, Bailey's a better-than-average run supporter, and he flashes respectable closing speed—arguably the most critical attribute of a Cover 1 free safety—on the back end.
He can become a serviceable starter in a number of years, but someone like Terrence Brooks brings a more refined skill set fresh out of college.
4. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Like Cooper, Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a converted wideout who's still learning the defensive ropes. You wouldn't be able to tell that by his play, though.
At 6'3", 215 pounds—a nearly identical build to Sean Smith's—Jean-Baptiste is an equally towering and imposing defender. After switching to corner, he regularly played press-man and rendered wideouts ineffective due to successful jams at the line.
Furthermore, his fundamentals are, given his lack of positional experience, surprisingly sound. Nebraska's star boasts a fairly smooth backpedal, and he consistently keeps his shoulders squared with the opponent's hips. Feints rarely prove effective against him.
Ultimately, Jean-Baptiste's fate will largely hinge on his 40 time. If he clocks in at under 4.5 seconds, his stock will climb. If it tops 4.5? Not so much. As long as the base time is in the 4.5 to 4.55 range, the senior's stock should remain idle.
3. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
In terms of pure athleticism, Loucheiz Purifoy doubles as one of the most impressive talents in the 2014 draft. During his stint at Florida, the playmaker served as a viable three-way threat.
His offensive snaps were limited for obvious reasons, but he gradually evolved into a special teams jack-of-all-trades. Downing punts inside of the 5-yard line; returning kicks and punts; blocking field goals—you name it, he did it.
As for his primary position, Purifoy, with a dose of valuable coaching, could easily develop into an established starting corner. He breaks on passes in a heartbeat, totes first-class straight-line speed and, unlike the lion's share of speedsters, approaches the game with a unique brand of fearlessness.
However, at times, Purifoy's distinguished athleticism bails him out of inopportune predicaments, and rusty technique is often the byproduct.
Again, though, if his NFL coaching staff buffs the rough edges, Purifoy's first-round talent makes him a possible steal as a Day 2 choice.
2. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Throughout the past couple of months, Odell Beckham has been showered with pre-draft hype (and deservedly so). However, a case can easily be made that he wasn't the best pass-catching prospect on LSU's roster.
Landry is another underclassman whose 40 time will slightly sway his stock. Regardless of the results, though, Landry will progress into a consummate pro. And quickly.
A few factors deem No. 80 as one of the more intriguing prospects of 2014. For starters, his game speed isn't going to translate well into workouts. When judging receivers, critics tend to equate "speed" with "separation."
Landry doesn't showcase a sixth gear like Beckham's. He glides across the gridiron on autopilot. However, Landry's picture-perfect routes are sharp enough to give the field a facial trim.
His textbook route running more than compensates for what he lacks in straight-line speed (and he's by no means slow), as seamless cuts allow him to maintain an unwavering pace throughout his breaks.
Landry, before and after the catch, makes defenders look like they're playing on tape delay. And if you couldn't tell by the highlight video, the up-and-comer has glue sticks for fingers.
1. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
After watching a few snaps involving Jordan Matthews, two things become readily apparent; he touts incredibly quick feet and, as a result, accelerates like he's chasing a mechanical hare.
Those characteristics normally don't apply to 6'3", 206-pound wideouts, but Matthews is the exception to the rule. Like Landry, Vanderbilt's weapon can line up outside or in the slot, and he also wields a surefire set of hands.
If there's one consistent weakness in Matthews' game, it's run blocking. He often fails to square up defenders and/or gain pad leverage, resulting in pursuers easily shedding him while stalking the ball-carrier. Having said that, the receiver he'd seemingly replace, Donnie Avery, welcomes contact like Vladimir Putin welcomes Care Bears, so the flaws would offset.
Overall, Matthews exhibits the kind of hands and route running that are staples of the West Coast offense(s). But furthermore, he flashes a class of vertical speed that matches what the Chiefs are searching for.
So, all things considered, if Kansas City remains anchored at No. 23, is that necessarily the wrong move?
No. But taking the depth of this upcoming class into account, particularly at positions that the Chiefs desperately need to improve, Dorsey could receive more bang for his buck by swapping out for a couple of mid-round selections.
Within a number of years, the Day 2 wideouts have every chance of becoming just as good, if not better than their Day 1 counterparts. And though the second- and third-round corners and safeties may not ooze with the same level of skill as a Calvin Pryor or Justin Gilbert (both may not be available at No. 23 to begin with), they can eventually develop into reputable starters.
It's a classic case of "two birds, one stone," and throughout his scouting career, Dorsey has proved to be an eagle-eyed sniper in spotting mid-round gems.
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