Who Are Experts Predicting to Kansas City Chiefs in 1st Round of NFL Draft?

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Who Are Experts Predicting to Kansas City Chiefs in 1st Round of NFL Draft?

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    The pre-2014 NFL draft consensus among some experts is that the Kansas City Chiefs will either target a wide receiver or bolster the trenches with the 23rd overall pick.

    Pundits from four different sites have general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid adding a pass-catching playmaker to the offense.

    Meanwhile, three others believe the Chiefs will focus their efforts on getting better up front. A pair of commentators believe that focus will be on the D-line rather than an offensive front depleted during free agency.

    Here are the players the experts are linking to the Chiefs as we approach May's selection meet.

Marqise Lee, WR, USC

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    Marqise Lee is the pick of choice from Sports Illustrated writer Chris Burke. He offers an adamant endorsement of Lee's ability to make an impact in Kansas City:

    Blame it on his disappointing, injury-plagued 2013 season, but Lee just is not generating the buzz that many other receivers in this class are right now. Quite frankly, that’s ridiculous. Lee was the Biletnikoff Award winner in 2012 as the nation’s top WR and, healthy again, absolutely still has what it takes to be a productive NFL receiver over the long-haul.

    Despite the disparity between 2012 and 2013, when Lee's numbers dropped from 118 receptions to 57, per cfbstats.com, he would open up the playbook for offensive coordinator Doug Pederson.

    Lee averaged over 13 yards per catch both seasons. He has a natural talent for stretching a coverage scheme to its breaking point.

    Quarterback Alex Smith needs that kind of weapon after averaging a mere 6.5 yards per completion last season, according to stats from NFL.com.

    Lee would provide a more expansive element in the passing game.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

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    Sticking with the wide receiver theme, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks believes Reid will be tempted by ex-LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. Brooks identifies Beckham as a smart fit for the way Reid loves to attack coverage:

    Andy Reid's offensive scheme is fueled by "catch-and-run" playmakers with the potential to turn short passes into big gains. Beckham is a spectacular offensive weapon with the potential to emerge as a force in an offense that feeds him the ball on the perimeter.

    Beckham is indeed a demon after the catch. He averaged 19.53 yards on 59 catches in 2013, per cfbstats.com. Beckham is explosive and powerful, but also possesses an obvious flair as an open-field runner.

    That skill also lends itself well to the return game, where Beckham is an asset.

    He fits well in Kansas City as a more dynamic playmaker in Reid's version of the West Coast offense and as a return man to replace Dexter McCluster.

David Yankey, OG, Stanford

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    Taking a brief step away from wide receivers, WalterFootball.com writer Walter Cherepinsky believes Dorsey will target guard David Yankey to plug holes on the O-line.

    Cherepinsky believes the Chiefs consider new signing Jeff Linkenbach a "backup." That's probably smart thinking, although Yankey may not be the best fit in Kansas City.

    He comes from a strict power scheme at Stanford. But under Reid, the Chiefs have incorporated some zone principles in the way they block for ace running back Jamaal Charles.

    Yankey has the range to shift out into space ahead of Charles, but he works best as a nasty, straight-line drive blocker.

    A more suitable option might be Xavier Su'a-Filo, who fellow WalterFootball.com scribe Charlie Campbell has the Chiefs picking. Both writers believe guard will be the primary target for a team that lost Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah in free agency.

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

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    One of the more intriguing detours from the established narrative of wide receiver is NFL.com reporter Matt Smith suggesting the Chiefs will take defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman at No. 23.

    Smith keeps it short and sweet in his assessment of why Hageman makes sense: "The WR position is very deep and can be addressed later. Hageman is a freak that can move up and down the DL."

    Smith is certainly right about the depth and quality of this receiver class. The Chiefs could feel confident about landing a prospect like Jarvis Landry or even Jordan Matthews in Round 3.

    Smith's also right about Hageman's ability to play multiple techniques up front. He would be a roving playmaker along a three-man line, something that more and more 3-4 teams covet.

    The problem with Smith's argument is that the Chiefs hope they've already got that player by signing Vance Walker in free agency.

    Kansas City Star reporter Terez A. Paylor has indicated the Chiefs will be turning Walker loose to generate more pressure and big plays from the line:

    In Walker, the Chiefs are getting a player who was used all across the Raiders’ defensive line last season — when he wasn’t shooting gaps, he was lined head up over the guards, center or tackles — and, unlike Jackson, was a mainstay on passing downs, too.

    To complement Poe, Walker said he’ll probably line up on the outside shoulder of the guard or tackle this year, which will allow him to shoot gaps and use his quickness to make plays.

    If those types of plans already exist for Walker, it's hard to see Reid and Dorsey spending their first pick on a rotation player. They may also feel the existing depth is solid, thanks to the potential of Allen Bailey and Mike Catapano.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

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    Returning to the need for greater playmaking potential in the passing game, Bleacher Report columnist Matt Miller suggests Brandin Cooks as the best fit at No. 23.

    Miller cites Cooks' potential as a roving terror defenses will struggle to track:

    Too many will look at Cooks' size (5'10", 189 lbs) and automatically assign him to the slot. That would be a mistake. Cooks is a matchup nightmare and can play anywhere on offense. He's quick enough to play in the slot and excel, but he runs a full route tree and has proven himself as an outside receiver. And like Jackson or Percy Harvin, what he does after the catch is impressive, no matter where he catches it.

    Miller's view of Cooks as a great fit in Kansas City is shared by CBS Sports writers Rob Rang and Pete Prisco.

    Cooks makes sense for the creative passing concepts Reid and Pederson love to unleash on opponents. Their designs are screen and slant-heavy, but the Chiefs have multiple variations on the themes.

    Nuanced screens and slants are perfect for a receiver who is a natural at finding voids in zones and darting through traffic.

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

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    CBS Sports scribe Pat Kirwan believes the Chiefs continue adding to their fearsome front seven by selecting Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt:

    The Chiefs lost Tyson Jackson in free agency and Tuitt brings a lot to the table. He has more versatility than his teammate Louis Nix. Tuitt could be more disruptive in a pass rush than Jackson was for the Chiefs.

    There is nothing wrong with Kirwan's reasoning, except for the fact that it seemingly ignores the signing of Walker. What could appeal to decision-makers in Kansas City is Tuitt's 3-4 experience.

    Tuitt is no conversion project, having operated as a two-gap, 5-technique in Notre Dame's three-man front defense. It's not often that a natural 3-4 defensive end is available in the first round.

    Unlike many at his position, Tuitt has been productive. He tallied nine tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2013, per cfbstats.com.

    He would give the Chiefs another weapon to counter star AFC West quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

    Yet as tempting as Tuitt should be at No. 23, the needs on the offensive line and at wide receiver seem greater.

    Dorsey and Reid have a tricky balance to strike in Round 1. This team didn't lose a lot of marquee, impact players. But it did lose the kind of solid, savvy pros who are often the key to a winning roster.

    The Chiefs will have a tough choice between prospects with the "wow" factor or less glamorous picks who can quietly slot into vital areas.