Kansas City Chiefs 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
In today's social-media crazed climate, the thin line between fact and fiction blurs with each passing year. Sports serves as Exhibit A, and the 2014 NFL draft—particularly in the Kansas City Chiefs' case—has already become a hotbed for head-scratching rumors and armchair assumptions.
If Twitter is to be believed, Kansas City will be plucking players at every position under the sun, come the weekend of May 8. Gangs of quixotic tweets have essentially painted John Dorsey as some impulsive, middle-aged HSN addict with his thumb on the call button, helplessly lured to the shiniest available item.
In reality, the upcoming draft—by last season's standards—projects to be a fairly conservative, uneventful one for Chiefs fans.
Kansas City only has six picks, which limits its array of options while placing that much more value on each selection.
So, let's weed out the half-truths and study the speculation.
6. Chiefs Will Draft a Vertical Threat
Mark Bradley, Bobby Wade, Chris Chambers, Steve Breaston, Jon Baldwin and Donnie Avery—the group of Chiefs No. 2 wideouts with at least four starts to their name since 2009 (year one of the post-Tony Gonzalez era).
Arrowhead has become a refuge for washed-up receivers, annually sheltering them like they're a pack of ring-bearing hobbits.
Is Dwayne Bowe overpaid? Without question. But while rivals have assembled a who's-who list of receivers over the years, Bowe's help has been more of the "who's who?" variety.
That being the case, the Chiefs are a virtual lock to draft a pass-catcher.
CBS Sports' Rob Rang, whose latest mock slots Brandin Cooks at No. 23, further elaborated:
The Chiefs may have shown their hand by expressing interest in Emmanuel Sanders and, to a lesser-extent, DeSean Jackson. Fortunately, the trio of Odell Beckham, Cooks and Southern Cal's Marqise Lee offer a similar skill-set as a dynamic slot receiver and returner. Cooks, the reigning Biletnikoff winner as the nation's top receiver, might be an especially good fit given his reliable routes and soft hands.
In all likelihood, if the Chiefs snatch a first-round wideout, it will be one of the three names—Beckham, Cooks or Lee—that Rang mentioned, and I still (firmly) believe that Cooks is the best candidate to fill the void.
If Kansas City waits to tackle the issue until Day 2, players such as Martavis Bryant, Donte Moncrief, Jordan Matthews and Paul Richardson still supply the downfield threat that the club is scouring for.
Fact or Fiction: Fact
5. Kansas City Will Target Stephon Tuitt
The latest mock-up by CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan sees Stephon Tuitt to Kansas City, noting, "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."
A month ago, this would've made sense. Now? Not so much.
The Chiefs didn't offer Vance Walker a three-year, $10 million contract to be a situational pass-rusher, and releasing Mike DeVito—who ranked as Pro Football Focus' (PFF) No. 4 3-4 defensive end versus the run and No. 7 overall—would only free up $2.1 million.
To put that into context, last year's No. 23 pick, Sharrif Floyd, counted $1.47 million against the cap—a number that's sure to rise in 2014. So, the hypothetical trade-off (DeVito for Tuitt) would, at most, likely only save $630,000.
While it's true that Tuitt is a freakishly athletic 5-tech defensive end (within a 3-4), Kansas City is set at the position. Plus, his production dipped in 2013—although, some claim offseason surgery marred his conditioning—which also gives cause to pause.
Regardless, the Chiefs (figuratively) have bigger fish to fry, and Notre Dame's 322-pounder doesn't fit the bill.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
4. Chiefs Will Consider an O-Lineman at Pick No. 23
In terms of sexiness, drafting an offensive lineman is like pulling up to a red light and revving a Vespa.
Chiefs fans might have to bite the bullet, though, because Andy Reid's offense sans protection (more or less) resembles the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.
In the first round, Yahoo's Shaun King projects Antonio Richardson to the Chiefs, adding, "The Chiefs lost three of their starting five offensive linemen from last year. The rebuild starts here. "Tiny" Richardson has flaws but his raw size and athleticism is too much too pass up."
The underlying logic is sound, but the same can't be said about the choice.
Firstly, Richardson is a stretch at pick No. 23. He's a second-round talent.
Secondly, Reid wants nimble-footed big men, and in that context, Richardson doesn't hold a candle to some of his positional peers.
Whether the Chiefs are eyeing help at right tackle or guard, names like Morgan Moses, Zack Martin, Brandon Thomas—whose stock will fall due to a recently torn ACL, per ESPN's Mike Triplett—and David Yankey are all better suited for Kansas City's system.
While I don't agree with King's candidate, I'm on board with his initial train of thought. Remember, when Dick Vermeil coached at Arrowhead, his string of success was largely attributed to the offensive line—a unit that consisted of Willie Roaf, Will Shields and Brian Waters, among others.
Fact or Fiction: Fact
3. John Dorsey Will Look to Trade Down
When asked if he plans on acquiring extra draft picks, John Dorsey recently told Reid Ferrin of KCChiefs.com:
Well, my phone is always open, if you want to tell those guys if they want to trade up or down, just give me a call. You know what; you have to do everything within your power to see if you can do things. Rest assured that I will try to do everything I can to move up (or) move down if I feel like it’s time to pull the trigger and go up and get a player, or pull the trigger to move down to get a player, I will use every resource available to me.
Per CBS Sports, this year's class includes a record 98 underclassmen, which trumps the previous high of 73 from 2013.
In other words, a gang of 2014 draftees would've been drafted a round earlier last season, making the current talent pool that much richer.
The idea becomes moot, however, if another general manager isn't willing to shake on it. The team in the best position to do just that? San Francisco—Kansas City's trusty trade partner of 20-plus years—who currently has 11 picks in its back pocket.
Whether Dorsey pulls the trigger is anyone's guess. But, at the very least, he's guaranteed to be window shopping, phone in hand, come May 8.
Fact or Fiction: Fact
2. The Front Office Is Searching for Brandon Flowers' Replacement
Throughout the past year, Brandon Flowers has regularly taken heat from the local media, and ESPN's Adam Teicher is among those who doubt if the corner is a "good fit" for Bob Sutton's defense.
Here's the thing: From 2009 to 2012, PFF annually graded No. 24 as a top-seven corner, and he looked every bit the part. In 2013, he dropped to No. 87 overall.
A lockdown defender doesn't lose his skills overnight. In Flowers' case, he fell victim to a perfect storm of season-long hurdles.
The defense switched from a predominately Cover 2 approach to a Cover 1 scheme. In essence, prior to 2013, Kansas City often deployed a variety coverages, from Cover 2 concepts to Cover 6 (quarter-quarter-half).
Flowers still played a healthy dose of man coverage (normally off-man), but more times than not, he was certain to have over-the-top safety support. That, in turn, allowed him to pounce on underneath routes, which utilized the most distinctive skill—anticipation—in the Pro Bowler's arsenal.
Last year, those trends and tendencies U-turned, as Flowers played more press-man and was seldom guaranteed safety help.
The problem? Kansas City's corner, while unquestionably physical (Wes Welker agrees), is 5'9", 187 pounds—five inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than someone like Dez Bryant, whom he was tasked with guarding man-to-man in Week 2. (For what it's worth, once the Chiefs began bracketing Bryant throughout the third quarter, Dallas' offense regressed to a shell of its former self.)
Furthermore, Kansas City's deep safeties (which excludes Eric Berry) were arguably the worst in the NFL— routinely biting the bait and getting torched on vertical routes—while its larger corners couldn't match the overall talent of most No. 1 receivers.
Also, a quarter (Week 3 through Week 7) of Flowers' season was spent combating a knee injury that stemmed from the Week 2 clinic authored by Bryant.
He was an undersized corner—with virtually no safety help—attempting to shield athletic trees, which is why he blanketed the likes of Welker and T.Y. Hilton but struggled against names like Bryant and Eric Decker.
Justin Gilbert is a soon-to-be rookie who fits Sutton's defense down to a T, but he'll be snatched off the board well before Kansas City is on the clock.
Due to that, and given Flowers' impressive track record, Sutton would be wise to see how 2014 pans out—being that the team will be upgraded at deep safety, and Marcus Cooper now has a year of pro experience—before making any rash decisions.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
1. Kansas City Will Draft a Quarterback
While breaking down Kansas City's most pressing offseason needs, ESPN's Ron Jaworski wrote (subscription required), "I'm not so sure they won't look at adding a QB in the early rounds."
At this point, quarterback controversy is embedded in the Chiefs' DNA. The team is synonymous with it. This year, the rationale behind drafting a passer doesn't add up, though.
When Alex Smith landed in Kansas City, he was unfamiliar with the offense, coaches and players. By the end of the season, he was lighting up postseason box scores and leading game-winning Pro Bowl drives. If that screams "stopgap" to you, then try lowering your Hall of Fame-or-bust standards a hair, "That Guy."
To take it a step further, the team has six picks at their disposal, and only two of them precede Day 3. The Chiefs don't have the luxury of gambling on a developmental passer when the roster has far more alarming needs.
Speaking of, the depth chart already features a third-string project in Tyler Bray. And make no mistake, if he quells predraft character concerns, the former SEC standout can evolve into a respected starter over time.
Since 2008—the first year in which velocity was officially recorded at the combine, per CBS Sports—only one quarterback, Logan Thomas, has gunned a pass that reached 60 mph; Bray topped out at 59, matching Colin Kaepernick's mark.
Remember, this is the same guy who chalked up 34 touchdown passes as a true junior, just shy of Aaron Murray's SEC-leading 36, despite playing in two less games than Georgia's starter.
Regardless of how you slice it, the logic behind drafting a quarterback doesn't hold water.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction
Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.
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