Updating Team Kansas City Chiefs First-Round Big Board Post-Combine

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: Former Michigan State defensive back Darqueze Dennard runs a drill during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs may tweak their first round big board post-combine to feature a quartet of cornerbacks who impressed in drills. All four would answer a team need for more consistent and capable coverage out on the edge.

There will still be room for a group of D-linemen who can add more playmaking skills along the three-man front. The Chiefs will have also kept a watchful eye over two of the most prominent safeties in this draft class, both of whom impressed in Indianapolis.

But head coach Andy Reid and general manager Jon Dorsey might have been most enamored with the performances of a select group of wide receivers.

Given the need to add more difference-makers in the passing game, the Chiefs could focus on a nifty little speedster, as well as a big-bodied receiver who showcased more explosion than expected.

Here is the updated big board for Kansas City after the combine.

All combine results courtesy of NFL.com. All statistics courtesy of College Football Stats.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Brandin Cooks did everything he could to boost his already impressive draft stock at the combine. He was officially clocked at a scarcely believable 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

That provides more than a hint about his lethal vertical speed. Combine that blazing quickness with a difficult-to-grab 5'10", 186-pound frame, and Cooks projects as a lethal weapon from the slot or on the outside.

That makes him the perfect potential upgrade for free-agent Dexter McCluster. If the Chiefs, who are just $9 million under the cap, according to Spotrac.com, can't bring McCluster back after a Pro Bowl year, Cooks becomes a great pick at 23.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt

One of the easiest-to-like prospects in this draft increased his stock with a fine showing at the combine. Jordan Matthews posted a 4.46 time in the 40. That displayed more speed than many would have given the 6'3", 206-pounder credit for.

Matthews also impressed throughout the day with his catching and finishing skills, as ESPN Insider Phil Savage noted:

With a build and hands that suits Reid's version of the West Coast offense, Matthews has to be part of the conversation at 23.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

In terms of speed and productivity, the Chiefs may find Odell Beckham Jr. difficult to pass on. The ex-LSU flanker posted a pleasing 4.43 time in the 40.

Add that speed to his ability to create players as a receiver, runner and returner, and Beckham could be the roving weapon Reid's offense needs.

In his post-Super Bowl mock draft, Bleacher Report columnist Matt Miller had the Chiefs selecting Beckham. Just on versatility alone, the pick would carry good value.

Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

Allen Robinson didn't really do himself any favors by running a 4.60 40-yard dash. But of course, combine numbers never tell the full story about a player.

The Chiefs should still be encouraged by Robinson's powerful frame and awesome productivity. He made 97 catches during his final season with the Nittany Lions.

Reid may feel he already has all the vertical speed he needs thanks to A.J. Jenkins and Donnie Avery. But he may want a more consistent possession-style pass-catcher than Dwayne Bowe.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Kelvin Benjamin is another wideout who hurt himself with a mediocre showing in the 40. The ex-Seminoles receiver was clocked at 4.61 seconds.

But at 6'5" and 234 pounds, Benjamin has that imposing size that will still intrigue plenty of scouts. He is also a favored projected first-round pick for the Chiefs.

Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated has Benjamin going to Kansas City at 23. So does Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com. Benjamin's potential as an obvious physical mismatch may be too tempting for Reid to ignore.

Marqise Lee, WR, USC

It may be asking a little too much for Marqise Lee to still be on the board at 23. But if the former Trojans star does fall to the Chiefs, they probably won't waste time before taking him.

Lee has good but not great speed, but his talent as an imaginative runner makes him dangerous. Lee is a major threat as both a receiver and a returner.

Those dual-threat skills will still make him coveted for most of the first round, although other receivers may have overtaken him at the combine.

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Mike Evans is another receiver who is likely to have his share of suitors before the 23rd pick. But if he is still on the Kansas City radar, Reid might prefer him as a more explosive option than Benjamin.

As NFL.com Media Analyst Bucky Brooks notes, Evans used the combine to show he can match impressive speed to his imposing size:

Evans clocked a 4.53-second 40 and posted a 37-inch vertical jump. While those numbers don't jump off the stat sheet at first glance, when you consider his massive frame, the marks reveal a dynamic big guy with exceptional lower-body explosion. Evans also displayed better-than-anticipated fluidity and body control in his route running. He was efficient getting in and out of the breaks, and flashes a burst tracking balls down on intermediate routes. Most importantly, Evans caught the ball well in drills, exhibiting strong hands while snatching everything in his sizable strike zone.

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

Jace Amaro performed as billed at the combine. In other words, he looked like the most assured, pro-ready tight end in this class.

That should be enough to keep him on the radar for the Chiefs at 23. In his pre-Super Bowl mock, Matt Miller had the Chiefs taking Amaro. It is a smart idea, considering Amaro is the type of prolific, roving tight end quarterback Alex Smith would form an immediate rapport with.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

Austin Seferian-Jenkins was denied the chance to showcase his physical gifts at the combine, due to a foot injury detected by the on-site medical teams.

But Seferian-Jenkins has been quick to assure scouts the ailment is only a minor one, according to Bob Condotta of The Seattle TimesThat is encouraging, because a healthy Seferian-Jenkins should tempt the Chiefs.

In his breakdown of the best tight ends in this year's class, Matt Miller gave this vivid description of Seferian-Jenkins' enticing blend of physical power and playmaking talent:

What would happen if you took a smaller left tackle and gave them the agility of a wide receiver? You'd have a 280-pound receiving threat and true three-down player with incredible versatility both in terms of on-field use and in designing offensive formations and personnel packages.

That's what you get with Austin Seferian-Jenkins. At a listed 6'6" and 276 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins is a mismatch that few NFL defenders can deal with. He's too big and too powerful for a safety but too fast and powerful for most outside linebackers. How do you cover him? That's a good question.

That is a combination that could ease the minds of scouts over some character concerns. Adam Jude of The Seattle Times reported Seferian-Jenkins was suspended for Washington's opening game after receiving a DUI charge.

Talking to reporters at the combine, Seferian-Jenkins tried to ease concerns about his character, according to NFL.com College Football 24/7 reporter Chase Goodbread:

Obviously, they're going to do their due diligence asking me about the situation with the DUI, but when you get to know me and get to talk to me, I think it's very clear that I'm not a character issue guy. I made a mistake and I've moved on past that. ... Not only did I put myself in a bad position, but I could have hurt someone else, and that was the worst thing about it. I've learned. I'm never going to drink and drive, do anything that selfish again, and put anyone in that position. It was a one-time incident, I'm not a character issue guy.

If the Chiefs' own research on him proves favorable, Seferian-Jenkins could give Reid a more dynamic version of veteran Anthony Fasano.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

It's probably wishful thinking to assume Eric Ebron slips to 23. But if the Chiefs are serious about targeting a tight end in the first round, Ebron has to be on their big board.

He was a model of consistency for the Tar Heels in 2013, although it would have been nice to see more than three touchdown catches.

What will have impressed scouts is the 4.60 speed Ebron showed off in Indianapolis.

Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA

Reid has a fondness for fleet-footed O-lineman. He likes to use some zone principles that demand mobile blockers.

With that in mind, he would likely have been impressed by the 5.04 40 speed posted by Xavier Su'a-Filo. The former Bruins guard is adept at shifting into space. That makes him a good fit to lead on some of the stretch plays and sprint draws the Chiefs use to free lightning-fast runner Jamaal Charles.

Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz all headed to free agency. So Reid will need to find some scheme suitable reinforcements up front.

Morgan Moses, T, Virginia

Morgan Moses turned in a steady performance at the combine. His 40 speed of 5.35 and 21.5 inch vertical jump were solid numbers for a 6'6", 314-pounder.

Moses should appeal to the Chiefs because he fits as a right tackle. He could slot in on that side and allow Reid to move 2013's first-overall pick Eric Fisher back to his natural left tackle spot.

That would be especially useful considering Albert is already generating strong interest on the market, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport:

Sliding Moses over to the right would give the Chiefs a lot of flexibility.

Zack Martin, G/T, Notre Dame

Speaking of flexibility, that is just what Zack Martin would bring to Kansas City. He can play left tackle but also shift inside to guard.

Martin is not the strongest O-lineman in this class, evidenced by his 29 reps in the bench press at the combine.  But he is a technically skilled and quick blocker.

NFL.com draft writer Nolan Nawrocki highlights qualities that make Martin worthy first-round material:

Athletic, smart, competitive, dependable college left tackle whose length dictates a move inside, where he has plug-and-play ability in a zone-blocking scheme. One of the cleanest prospects in this year’s draft.

Drafting Martin would allow the Chiefs to let two of their free-agent lineman walk and ease their cap burden.

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

As the standout five-technique end in this class, Stephon Tuitt almost makes too much sense for the Chiefs. The team needs to replace Tyson Jackson and get more impact plays from its three-man front.

Tuitt would certainly do that as a beefy playmaker who could be moved around to target weak blockers. But as good as he is, there still won't be a high demand for a natural 3-4 end before the Chiefs make their first pick.

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

If the Chiefs want a physically daunting end to replace Jackson, Ra'Shede Hageman could be their best bet. Standing 6'6" and weighing 310 pounds, Hageman is a true monster.

He used his 34-inch arms to tally a respect-worthy 32 reps at the bench press. Aside from awesome strength, Hageman is versatile enough to play multiple techniques up front. He can play over blockers or split them.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Timmy Jernigan should be on the Chiefs' radar after he posted a 40-yard dash time of 5.06 seconds. That's more than impressive for an interior D-lineman. As is Jernigan's 29.5-inch vertical jump.

Those numbers reveal the dynamic athleticism this quick-twitch playmaker possesses. At 6'2" and 299 pounds, Jernigan is not an obvious fit for a 3-4 front.

But he is the kind of player who can be used as a 1-gap rusher. That would increase the Chiefs' ability to create pressure from base packages.

Many 1-gap 3-4 teams, such as the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals, use one D-lineman this way.

If they don't want their defense to remain overly reliant on outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston for a pass rush, Reid and Dorsey will consider Jernigan.

Kelcy Quarles, DT, South Carolina

Kelcy Quarles ran the 40 in 5.03 seconds and posted a vertical jump of 23.5 inches. Those numbers will have certainly helped his stock and could push him into the bottom end of the first round.

After all, it was Quarles who dominated for the Gamecocks in 2013 while Jadeveon Clowney awarded himself an extended holiday. Quarles registered 9.5 sacks to go with 13.5 tackles for a loss.

The 6'4", 299-pounder has the flair for getting in the backfield the Chiefs are currently missing up front.

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Of course, as much as they might have struggled up front, the major issue for the Kansas City defense became issues in the secondary. While one problem usually creates the other, Reid will know he still needs fresh talent in the defensive backfield.

His search could lead him to Darqueze Dennard who impressed many at the combine. He ran the 40 in 4.51 seconds.

While that is not top-end speed, it's close enough, especially when combined with Dennard's ability to play physical, press-based man coverage.

That latter quality perfectly suits the aggressive, single-high coverage shells defensive coordinator Bob Sutton usually leans on.

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Drafting Jason Verrett would solve the rather tricky problem the Chiefs face at nickelback. The position has become essential in the modern, pass-first era, but Kansas City lacks a player competent enough for the role.

Reid and Dorsey dumped Dunta Robinson and saw rookie Marcus Cooper continuously attacked by quarterbacks. Verrett is a mighty miniature speedster ideally suited to play third corner.

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks is adamant a superb combine performance will put Verrett on first-round boards for a lot of secondary needy teams:

Verrett had already been on the fringes of Day 1 consideration thanks to his flawless game tape; this strong combine performance will undoubtedly thrust him into first-round chatter. He blazed the 40 in 4.38 seconds and posted one of the top vertical jumps (39.0) of the entire event. He followed up the strong showing in athletic drills with a terrific performance in the position-specific portion of the workout. Verrett dazzled scouts with his swivel hips and explosive breaks while also displaying strong hands and ball skills. Although Verrett's slender frame (he checked in at 5-foot-9, 189 pounds) will prompt some teams to look at him as a nickel back, the overall athleticism and skills showcased this weekend would make him a viable starter in most schemes.

Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

Bradley Roby is another cornerback identified by Brooks as one of the stars of the combine:

Roby will re-enter the discussion of elite prospects following his exceptional performance in Indy. The ex-Buckeyes star clocked an impressive 4.39 40 while posting notable numbers in the vertical (38.5 inches) and broad (10-4) jumps. In positional drills, Roby showed outstanding footwork and short-area quickness. He smoothly executes turns and transitions from pedal to burst. Roby also flashed strong hands and superb ball skills in drills; he catches the ball like a receiver on the move, which enhances his value to teams looking for playmakers in the back end.

The "short-area quickness" Brooks mentions would be useful in a slot role for the Chiefs. Those move skills, combined with his 5'11", 192-pound frame, mean Roby could also work on the outside in Sutton's defense.

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

It's probably the very definition of wishful thinking to hope Justin Gilbert falls to the Chiefs at 23. But any team needing help at cornerback has to have the former Oklahoma State ace on its board.

In fact, few teams will be able to leave him off after the way Gilbert wowed onlookers in Indianapolis. Jeff Reynolds of NFLDraftScout.com, highlighted how Gilbert outperformed the strong field at his position:

Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert was given a 4.37 "official" time, fastest among defensive backs (4.35, 4.38 unofficially), along with a 35 1/2-inch vertical and 10-6 broad jump.

Gilbert was smooth and fluid in position drills. He will battle to be the first cornerback off the board, but scouts aren't all convinced Gilbert's athleticism translates to the field. Undoubtedly he's the most naturally gifted athlete. He had seven interceptions last season and with his size (6-0, 202) and arms, projects as a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL.

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

If Reid and Dorsey can bolster the free safety position they will have gone a long way to fixing the overall state of their secondary.

One player who should certainly be on their board is former Louisville prodigy Calvin Pryor. He ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds and turned in 18 reps at the bench press.

More than numbers, though, Pryor is a natural ball hawk in deep zones. He knows how to break on the ball and make highlight reel-worthy plays.

Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

One safety who could use the combine to push himself into first-round contention is Deone Bucannon. He has all the physical attributes of a pro-ready safety and showed them off in Indianapolis.

Bucannon posted 4.49 40 speed, 19 reps, a 36.5-inch vertical jump and 125-inch broad jump. All of those were star numbers for his position.

They will certainly help the case of a natural bruiser who combines elite athleticism and genuine intimidation at the heart of a secondary.

Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State

Terrence Brooks is another safety who used the combine to boost his pre-draft standing. He ran the 40 in a mightily impressive 4.42 seconds, as well as posting a 38-inch vertical jump.

That is the level of athleticism and range needed to play deep safety in a single-high coverage structure. Brooks is a pure free safety who will have alerted any team needing help in that area to his obvious skills.

Florida State's Terrance Brooks made a strong impression in Indianapolis.
Florida State's Terrance Brooks made a strong impression in Indianapolis.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

The Chiefs were opportunistic for the first half of the 2013 season. But their ability to steal passes diminished late on.

Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward got his hands on seven interceptions during his final season at the collegiate level. He is more of an active safety than one who will sit deep, but Ward could form a nice rotating partnership with Eric Berry.

Sutton could move the pair around to disguise coverage and target particular receivers.

The Chiefs won't have been swayed from the type of players they need at their weakest positions by the combine. But the results should have put a few fresh faces on their radar.


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