Kansas City Mock Draft: Instant Contributors Chiefs Can Find in Every Round
Finding impact contributors at wide receiver has to be the primary focus for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2014 NFL draft. Head coach Andy Reid needs to add more big-play potential to the team's passing game.
Fortunately, this is a draft class loaded with dynamic and prolific pass-catchers. In Round 1, the Chiefs can target a pair of fleet-footed burners who can also double as dangerous returners.
That would help offset the loss of Dexter McCluster in free agency.
Of course, boosting the aerial attack could also lead Reid to consider a versatile tight end. That will put solid, in-line bruisers in the team's sights.
Aside from finding weapons for quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs have to make room for a defensive back or two. The secondary was burned too often during the later stages of the 2013 season, so a free safety and a nickel cornerback would certainly provide a boost.
Here are some of the impact players Reid and general manager John Dorsey can add to the Kansas City roster in each round.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
The Chiefs have size at the wide receiver position, at least on the outside. All of Dwayne Bowe, Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins and Donnie Avery stand 5'11" or taller and weigh at least 200 pounds.
But what the offense lacks is a diminutive demon to work underneath from the slot. Enter Brandin Cooks, perhaps the most dynamic pint-sized pass-catcher in this draft class.
At just 5'10" and 189 pounds, Cooks can easily sneak under the radar of intermediate coverage. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he is a true terror.
NFL.com analyst Nolan Nawrocki highlights Cooks' skill after the catch:
Good concentration, body control and boundary awareness. Can turn a short throw into a long gain. Shows elusiveness, creativity and vision after the catch. Unafraid to play in the tall trees. Highly productive -- totaled 195 receptions for 2,881 yards (15.4-yard average) and 21 TDs in last two seasons.
Nawrocki projects Cooks as a late first-round or early second-round selection. As a late first-rounder, the ex-Oregon State speedster will be available for the Chiefs.
He would slot smoothly into the role previously occupied by McCluster.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Another option in Round 1 is to add one more big man on the outside, but one who can be relied on to stretch the field more often than Bowe.
Lee would also give the Kansas City special teams a useful returner, something ESPN reporter Adam Teicher believes the team will target this May.
The Chiefs missed out on former Philadelphia Eagle DeSean Jackson because of limited cap space, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. That will only increase the number of explosive playmakers on the team's radar come draft day.
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Reid and Dorsey can set about repairing the secondary in Round 3, where they will find a pair of playmakers who could each make an instant impact.
The first is towering cornerback Keith McGill. The 6'3", 211-pounder has the size to lock up receivers in press coverage.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton favors those techniques, and McGill's size will prove particularly useful in the AFC West. The Chiefs face formidable receivers like Denver Broncos ace Demaryius Thomas and young San Diego Chargers star Keenan Allen twice a year.
Adding McGill to a rotation that already features Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith would be a smart move.
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
The Kansas City defense was able to be more daring and aggressive up front thanks to Sutton's single-high coverage schemes. But as the 2013 season progressed, opposing quarterbacks found joy targeting the deep safety.
Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps were frequently exposed at the free safety position. Both players have left town this offseason, and Ed Reynolds would make a good replacement.
The former Stanford starter is adept at reading the eyes of quarterbacks and pouncing on throws from deep zones. He is also a big hitter who would form a fearsome double act with Eric Berry.
Either Reynolds or McGill would make an immediate contribution to a defensive backfield that must do better in 2014.
Dion Bailey, FS, USC
If the Chiefs look past Reynolds, they can solve their issues at free safety one round later by selecting Dion Bailey. A converted weak-side linebacker, Bailey is a shrewd zone defender who can also lock up slot receivers in man coverage.
Most of all though, Bailey offers a knack for big plays, something the Chiefs didn't get from the position a year ago. Bailey's opportunistic streak has CBS Sports columnist Rob Rang compare him to San Diego Chargers ace Eric Weddle: "It remains to be seen if Bailey can handle the transition to the NFL as well as the Chargers' All-Pro safety, but like Weddle at Utah, Bailey's instincts, fluidity and penchant for big plays made him a consistent and versatile difference-maker at the collegiate level."
Bailey is projected as fourth-rounder by CBS Sports. If he is on the board for them at that stage, the Chiefs would be crazy to overlook him.
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
After seeing both Branden Albert and Geoff Schwartz walk in free agency, Reid will be acutely aware of the need for reinforcements up front.
Cameron Fleming would give Kansas City a useful swing tackle with genuine potential to crack the starting lineup early in his pro career.
CBS Sports has the ex-Stanford man as a fourth-round prospect. A 6'5", 323-pounder with Fleming's blend of bullish power and deceptive athletic upside would be a steal at that stage.
Reid and Dorsey could flip a coin to choose between pursuing safety or O-line help in Round 4 and not be wrong either way.
Devon Kennard, OLB, USC
As much as the secondary crumbled in 2013, the defensive collapse was also due to injuries to outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
Their absence exposed the paucity of depth at arguably the most important position on a 3-4 defense. Sutton needs more options out on the edge, and one player who answers that need is Devon Kennard.
At 6'3" and 249 pounds, he has the right size to play rush linebacker. He is also a smart and versatile defender who can be moved all over a front seven.
That should appeal to Sutton, who likes to move pass-rushers around, particularly in sub-packages. Kennard would join Frank Zombo as useful rotational cover for Hali and Houston.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State
Crockett Gillmore is another big-move target the Chiefs could add at tight end. He is not as flexible or even dynamic as Notre Dame's Troy Niklas, but the 6'6", 260-pounder is sure-handed and productive.
Gillmore tallied 47 receptions for 577 yards and a pair of scores in 2013, according to cfbstats.com. He would be a crafty underneath weapon in Kansas City.
If they have to make a decision between pass-rusher or pass-catcher in Round 5, Reid and Dorsey should opt for a player who can put pressure on quarterbacks over one who can help them.
Howard Jones, DE/OLB, Shepherd
While they need help in coverage, the Chiefs simply can't have enough quality pass-rushers in a division featuring quarterbacks as stellar as Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.
That's why small-school star Howard Jones should appeal with one of the team's two sixth-round picks. He is a raw but naturally skilled outside pass-rusher.
Jones showed off his speed by posting a 4.60 40-yard dash time at the combine. It's that acceleration that helped him routinely destroy the edges of blocking schemes while at Shepherd.
NFL.com draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki emphasizes Jones' potential as a pro pass-rusher in the right scheme:
Lean, explosive, highly athletic rush linebacker prospect who overwhelmed inferior tackles at the Division II level and has clear developmental value and upside potential. Best deployed with pinned ears and see-ball, get-ball instructions, Jones is raw, but has enticing speed and crude pass-rush ability for a patient, positional coach to mold.
Learning behind players like Hali and Houston would certainly allow Jones to pick up a few new tricks.
Russell Bodine, C/G, North Carolina
When Jon Asamoah left in free agency, the Chiefs lost a powerful force along the interior of their O-line. It also weakened the depth behind the Kansas City front five.
Russell Bodine is a player who could solve both issues. He can fill in at both center and guard and plays with a tenacious streak that is most evident in the running game.
Bodine is a good fit for the Chiefs' run-first offense.
Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
Seantrel Henderson is another tough and accomplished run-blocker who could fill holes along the Chiefs' offensive front. He is a massive presence on the outside at 6'7" and 331 pounds.
Henderson has seen time at both left and right tackle but could also do some damage from the interior. His stock has been hurt by a revelation at the Senior Bowl that he incurred numerous suspensions at Miami for using marijuana, per Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel.
But many teams may feel Henderson's size and athletic gifts are enough to merit a second chance.
CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang projects the ex-Hurricanes' starter as a sixth-rounder, where the Chiefs may be willing to take a chance.
By rigidly targeting their most obvious areas of need, passing game, O-line and secondary, rather than being wowed by marquee names, the Chiefs can find immediate impact in every round.