Kansas City Chiefs Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
First, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that negotiations with Alex Smith have hit a brick wall, leading to widespread speculation that John Dorsey may set his crosshairs on a first-round quarterback:
Team that will consider a 1st-round QB: The #Chiefs. Negotiations with Alex Smith aren’t progressing well. Must keep long-term options open— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 5, 2014
A day later, B/R's Dan Pompei spread word that the Chiefs are looking to acquire additional picks for the services of Brandon Flowers:
Teams looking for a starting cornerback in the draft may be hard pressed to find one if they don't strike early. But they may be able to acquire a veteran in a trade. The Chiefs are believed to be willing to deal Brandon Flowers in an attempt to acquire extra draft selections. The corner made the Pro Bowl in 2013 even though he did not have his best season. Pro scouts consider him a tough, scrappy player who is an above-average cover man. Flowers' contract could make a trade difficult. He is due to earn $5.25 million in base salary this year, and at this point of the offseason, not many teams have the type of cap flexibility to acquire a player with that big a number.
Dead money included, trading Flowers would generate $3.5 million in cap space this season, while axing $11.5 million from the books in 2015 and $9.75 million in 2016.
Having said that, as an aftereffect of the potential swap, cornerback would skyrocket toward the top of Kansas City's draft needs.
If the whispers become realities, will Dorsey use the compensation to trade up for Justin Gilbert? Does the move promote Darqueze Dennard as the favorite for pick No. 23?
The Chiefs have been linked to a medley of first-round wideouts, safeties and offensive linemen, but the above scenario throws a wrench into the seven-round equation.
The 2014 draft, which will air on ESPN and the NFL Network, is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, May 8. Live results, grades and analysis will follow each of the Chiefs' selections.
Round 1, Pick No. 23: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Yesterday, if analysts suggested that the Chiefs would pick a (somewhat) injury-prone player with enormous upside, fans would've etched in Marqise Lee's name.
"Not so fast, my friend."
Dee Ford is an explosive edge-rusher who accelerates off the line like a 252-pound incoming missile. He still needs to broaden his arsenal of pass-rushing moves, and he's an average run defender, but if he gains any hint of leverage when rounding the corner, a quarterback is bound to be face-planted into the earth.
NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki adds:
High-motor college left defensive end perhaps suited for a rush linebacker role in the pros. Has added more than 50 pounds to his frame since arriving on campus and has demonstrated the desire, work habits and competitiveness to develop into a productive edge rusher if he can stay healthy and is programmed to go get the quarterback only.
He embodies a relentless work ethic that rivals Tamba Hali's, and coincidentally, drafting Ford might spell the writing on the wall in regards to Hali's time in Kansas City, as ESPN's Adam Schefter notes:
One reason KC took Auburn DE Dee Ford: Tamba Hali weighed in at 284 pounds last Friday, 20 pounds over his optimal playing weight.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2014
In a division that plays host to Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, a team without a pass rush will, at most, be vying for a wild-card spot every year. By drafting Ford, Kansas City potentially gained much-needed elbow room (financially) and cranked up the pressure on rival AFC West quarterbacks—both literally and figuratively.
Round 3, Pick No. 87: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Kansas City, who still lacks a playmaking wideout, turned a few more heads by selecting Phillip Gaines at pick No. 87.
Gaines is a 6'0", 193-pound corner with 31.88" inch arms who (unsurprisingly) excels in press coverage. However, what separates him from the pack is his grade of straight-line speed, as NBC Sports' Josh Norris notes:
Another pick I love in Phillip Gaines to the #Chiefs. Was at his best when pressing, but also flashed playing the catch point & catch up spd— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 10, 2014
In evaluating the corner, B/R's Ian Wharton adds:
Gaines is a sneaky-good athlete that shows solid intelligence on the field as well. Most hadn’t heard of him before his explosive NFL combine performance, but he’s been a shutdown cornerback in back-to-back seasons at Rice. I think in a zone or off-man scheme he can be a great cornerback.
Obviously, the Chiefs' press-heavy defense won't utilize his instincts as much as an off-man or zone scheme would, but his measurables are ideal for Bob Sutton's scheme.
Round 4, Pick No. 124: De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
When De'Anthony Thomas breaches the open field, you'd swear that you sat on the remote's fast-forward button.
Dexter McCluster's departure left a considerable hole in Kansas City's roster, particularly in the facet of special teams. Thomas not only fills the void, he arguably upgrades it.
Oregon's standout has Mach-like speed that shifts into overdrive once he finds space. And when cradling the pigskin, he's a patient runner who allows blockers to pave lanes for him.
He's certain to periodically occupy the backfield and receive occasional carries, but in all likelihood, he'll make a permanent transition to the slot. He'll almost certainly be penciled in as the club's punt returner as well.
Evaluating Thomas' skill set, CBS Sports' Rob Rang notes:
Without question, Thomas is the most electric player in the 2014 draft. He boasts remarkable elusiveness, instant acceleration and the speed to pull away from defenders to make him a legitimate threat to score each time he touches the ball. Shows good vision, locating holes and slithering through them to get into the open field.
Has soft, natural hands for the reception, easily snagging passes and securing them quickly. Tougher than he looks, showing a willingness to lower his shoulder and fight through initial contact to gain as much yardage as possible.
The Kansas City Star's Terez Paylor frames the offensive weapon's production into perspective:
#Chiefs fans should love this stat: De’Anthony Thomas scored 46 touchdowns in only three collegiate seasons.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 10, 2014
More or less, Thomas was Oregon's Jamaal Charles.
If he converts to the slot full-time, he'll likely encounter his share of growing pains, especially in regards to route running and releasing off the line versus press coverage.
However, every time he touches the ball, regardless of where or how, defensive coordinators will hold their breath and cross their fingers.
Round 5, Pick No. 163: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Just as Chiefs fans swarmed Twitter on a euphoric high from the De'Anthony Thomas pick, they turned back to the TV and a collective, "Wait...what?" rang out through Kansas City.
If you know anything about Andy Reid, you know that he loves developing passers, which is why selecting Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is less surprising than it should be.
Murray, who's rebounding from an ACL tear, only measures at 6'1", 207 pounds, drawing the "small quarterback" stereotype.
However, he totes a quick release with no wasted movement, and like Alex Smith, he normally won't thread the needle if the coverage tempts him. He's content with progressing through reads and dumping it to the checkoff if need be.
His arm strength is slightly stronger than Smith's, but it won't be confused with that of someone like Tyler Bray.
As for the negatives, his build attracts health concerns, and he needs to work on standing tall in the face of pressure. Too often, incoming rushers will influence his throws.
Also, due to his height, his passes are occasionally deflected at the line.
Murray's selection just drew a line in the sand and parted the Red Sea.
And while I think it would've been more sensible to strengthen the offensive line instead—especially when players like Charles Leno and Anthony Steen remain available—Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar makes a valid point:
Aaron Murray's in a great spot. I mean... Andy Reid made Kevin Kolb look good.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) May 10, 2014
Round 6, Pick No. 193: Zach Fulton, G, Tennessee
Personally, this is the pick that I was waiting for.
When scanning Kansas City's roster, guard births the most uncertainties, as Jeff Allen has struggled—although, he punctuated 2013 with a commendable five-game stretch—and Rishaw Johnson needs to prove that he has matured and can consistently perform like he did in Week 17.
Jeff Linkenbach is a serviceable replacement if the aforementioned two are sidelined, but he has a moderate ceiling.
Barring the unthinkable, Tennessee's Zach Fulton won't challenge for the starting job as a rookie, but he has an NFL-ready frame and above-average tangibles.
The rookie rapidly fires off the line of scrimmage—helping him gain all-important pad leverage on a regular basis—and drives through his opponents until the whistle. He's also quick to identify stunts.
Fulton's athleticism will allow him to pull around tackle in timely fashion, but his effectiveness seesaws when he rumbles into open space.
During his stint at Tennessee, Fulton steadily improved his pass blocking, but it still isn't ready for the big leagues. More than anything, he needs to continue his footwork.
However, Fulton is a relatively impressive run-blocker, and he has the tools to become just as efficient (over time) in pass protection.
Round 6, Pick No. 200: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill (Canada)
Laurent Duvernal-Tardif shatters every Canadian stereotype known to man.
Due to his location, the 6'5", 321-pound tackle is an overlooked prospect—that isn't going to last much longer.
Here's a peak into his intangibles: He's a medical student who suffered a torn left labrum as a senior and never missed a game.
On the field, he plays with a permanent chip on his shoulder, attacking defenders like his pride is on the line during every snap. Considering that, the fact that he's a dominant run-blocker doesn't come as a surprise.
Duvernay-Tardif will need to be coached up in pass protection, though, as his fundamentals need to be sharpened.
All things considered, the Chiefs seemingly couldn't have recruited more potential value from their final pick. As NFL.com's Mike Mayock (see video) relays, Duvernay-Tardif's pro day numbers rivaled those of the top tackles in this season's draft.
Whether he remains at tackle or slides to guard, Kansas City may have gotten the most bang for its buck in the end of the sixth round.