2014 Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the Kansas City Chiefs
In the wake of the 2014 draft, at least one general manager (GM) will be deemed an eagle-eyed, talent-evaluating soothsayer.
It transpires every year like clockwork.
Said seer will pluck a sleeper off the board and eventually a) modestly chalk it up to his blue-collared staff or b) take his throne as a self-ordained scouting sage and drive the Kansas City Chiefs franchise into the ground, with an "I have a chair. Go do this. Go do this. King of the castle"-like outlook. (Drafting Tom Brady at pick No. 199 doesn't make you a visionary any more than the gambling addict whose three cherries just regained him access to tap water).
Luckily for Kansas Citians, John Dorsey fits the former mold.
Leading up to May 8, five eye-catching underdogs, among scads of others, will hold his attention hostage.
5. Charles Leno Jr., OT/G, Boise State
The Chiefs are in desperate need of O-line depth.
While Charles Leno won't be a Day 1 contributor, he can, with a few years of NFL coaching under his belt, eventually become a starting staple.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports notes:
Leno has good athleticism, balance and mobility to move and mirror, but lacks ideal lower body power and base to dig his cleats in the ground and the limb strength to control blocks. He isn't the most physical, but he has the traits to survive at the NFL level and projects as a down-the-road pro starter.
If Donald Stephenson is stamped as a Week 1 starter, Leno can mask the void at swing tackle for the time being.
4. Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
Even as a rookie, Jalen Saunders could partially offset the loss of Dexter McCluster.
If his name rings a bell, it's likely you watched him torch Alabama's secondary for five receptions, 75 yards and two touchdowns (including this 57-yard, route-running clinic) in the Sugar Bowl.
At 5'9", 165 pounds (seven pounds fewer than McCluster's weight at the 2010 combine), he's bound to be on the receiving end of cringeworthy hits. That being said, his toughness rivals that of any slot receiver you'll find, and his durability was all but bulletproof throughout college.
Obviously, his size presents an array of questions, particularly when he's tasked with beating press-man. However, as long as Saunders is in the slot—at Oklahoma, he also regularly lined up as the flanker—the extra cushion should, to an extent, allow him to negate jams through his quickness and acceleration.
In the handful of instances in which Alabama deployed press, it proved to be ineffective against him.
His strength isn't comparable to McCluster's—an overlooked facet of No. 22's game—and defenders will routinely rag-doll him while disengaging from blocks, but he wholeheartedly attacks them nonetheless.
From a receiving standpoint, when juxtaposed with the former second-rounder, Saunders is a considerably sharper route-runner who flashes faster straight-line speed.
Drafting him would not only add another playmaker to Kansas City's arsenal, it would fill in the blank at punt returner.
3. Marqueston Huff, S, Wyoming
Several analysts, such as Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar, have hyped Brock Vereen as a potential mid-round steal.
Would I take Brock Vereen in the third round and make him a stellar slot cornerback? You damn right I would.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 16, 2014
Personally, I see a raw, flat-footed, penalty-prone "tweener" who doesn't excel in any one particular area.
Marqueston Huff, a 196-pound cannonball, is just as versatile and more technically sound than Vereen. His game emits flashes of Sanders Commings, whom, if the Chiefs were to draft Huff, he would be competing with for minutes at free safety.
Wyoming's standout is a contact-craving missile with, relative to safeties, underrated athleticism.
In college, his roles ranged from outside corner to deep safety (his primary position), and while Vereen will log slightly better metrics, Huff trumps him in terms of fundamentals (backpedal, hand placement, tackling, etc.) and general physicality. Having said that, if a team was to convert him to nickelback, he would likely need a few years to work on the position's nuances.
When projecting talent to the big league, stats should be rendered weightless. However, throughout 2013, Huff's 10.6 tackles per game (No. 9 in the FBS, 127 total tackles) accurately depict his nose for the ball.
The back end of Kansas City's defense lacks depth. Huff's gung-ho mentality is emblematic of strong safeties (though, he would need to pack on five to 10 pounds), but he has the closing speed (4.49 40 time) to roam deep; he meets the demands for both positions.
2. Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
On film, two things immediately distinguish Christian Jones from the field: unique length and rapid acceleration.
His draft projection wildly wavers depending on whom you ask. Sites such as NFL Draft Scout and FFToolbox.com have him pegged as a fourth-round talent. Others, such as B/R's Darren Page, slot him between the second and third round.
Assessing Jones' overall skill set, NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki added:
Chiseled, height-weight-speed see-and-go reactor with intriguing athleticism, versatility and upside who shows in flashes, but leaves evaluators wanting more. Is likely to boost his stock during the pre-draft process, and could warrant consideration from 4-3 teams as a Sam or Will, or from 3-4 teams as a rush linebacker. Play will reach another level if/when his processor speed catches up to his physical talent.
In recent years, the bulk of Jones' snaps were split between inside linebacker and (4-3) defensive end. However, he occasionally lined up as an outside linebacker as well.
If he was inserted into a 3-4, Jones projects best at the "Sam" position—a spot currently occupied by (arguably) the Chiefs' most pivotal defensive player, Justin Houston.
That being the case, Jones could revert back to the inside as a "Jack" 'backer, but that's anchored by another Pro Bowler, Derrick Johnson.
Florida State's star also flaunts the skill set of a "Will," but with Tamba Hali penciled in as the starter, that hypothetical is a different detour to the same dead end as well. (Also, he would need to pack 15 to 20 pounds onto his frame, which is a task that wouldn't be accomplished within a single offseason.)
So, why should the Chiefs keep tabs on Jones?
As of today, only seven linebacking corps collectively account for larger (projected) 2014 cap hits than Kansas City's, per Spotrac. Considering Houston's sticker price still dates back to his rookie contract, and the fact that No. 50 may ink an extension this offseason, the club could lead the aforementioned pack before opening day.
If Jones, after a year of grooming, shows promise at the primary role he's eventually assigned to, the Chiefs can sever ties with Hali or Johnson, unloading their swollen contracts in the process.
Meanwhile, for the immediate future, Jones, who moonlights as a special teams ace, could provide much-needed linebacker depth.
Regardless, if a talent like he or Jordan Tripp fall to the fourth round, snagging one of the two will prove to be a worthwhile investment.
1. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
If you're unfamiliar with Aaron Colvin, envision a taller but leaner Brandon Flowers. However, while the Pro Bowler was drafted in the early stages of Round 2 (pick No. 36 overall), Colvin's phone may not ring until Day 3; the potential plummet isn't indicative of his talent, though.
The Oklahoma corner tore his ACL throughout Senior Bowl week—a week in which he had, prior to that point, performed admirably—ultimately muzzling his predraft buzz.
According to ESPN's Chris Sprow, Colvin is making strides in his road to recovery.
I'm told Aaron Colvin, who tore ACL @ Senior Bowl, already running in pool, will be outside soon. Full range of motion. #NFLDraft— Chris Sprow (@SprowESPN) March 5, 2014
The Big 12 big shot has combated minor injuries in the past, yet he only missed three games throughout his four-year college stint.
On the field, Colvin is an instinctive, technically solid corner—his backpedal and general footwork markedly improved between his junior and senior year—who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. He's a reliable tackler—although, he occasionally over-pursues ball-carriers—and effective blitzer, due to above-average acceleration.
Concerning fundamentals, Colvin is composed at the line, keeping his shoulders squared and reacting only to receivers' hips—a discipline that often eluded Marcus Cooper in 2013. But like Cooper, the incoming rookie needs to augment his frame via the weight room.
He also employed a healthy amount of press coverage at Oklahoma.
Colvin teems with late first- to early second-round talent, but his recent setback will likely demote him to the third round.
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