Kansas City Chiefs: Aggregating 2014 Draft Grades from Around the Web
The relevance of assessing the success of an organization's draft mere hours after the event's conclusion has long been questioned. For example, gauging the value of the Denver Broncos' sixth-round pick in 1995, Terrell Davis, was impossible in the days, weeks and months following the draft.
But still, as sure as this Alabama fan hates Tennessee, hundreds of draft grades flood the Internet with startling promptness every year. Analysts emerge from all corners of the web to evaluate the draft strategies of all 32 NFL teams from nearly every imaginable angle, while offering a wide assortment of critiques.
Considering their fairly unexpected utilization of the six picks at their disposal, there was certainly no shortage of opinions in regard to the Kansas City Chiefs. Thoughts on the organization's selections ranged from mild disappointment to complete indifference, with a few outliers also tossed in.
Here's how some of the net's more reputable experts felt about Kansas City's pickups through the 2014 NFL draft.
Mel Kiper, Jr.
The OG of draft analysis, Mel Kiper, Jr., sticks Kansas City with a "B-" grade (subscription required), acknowledging the value in its picks but also noting that it failed to address many of its most pressing needs:
"While I know GM John Dorsey believes recent first-rounder A.J. Jenkins could take a big step forward and really help the offense that's an area I might have targeted in a deep draft. Safety was also a need that wasn't addressed."
It's a sentiment that much of Chiefs Nation shares, as the failure to add a true receiver at a talent-strapped position was somewhat upsetting.
He goes on to halfheartedly praise K.C.'s first-round selection of Dee Ford, while also pondering whether or not it could have finagled additional mid-round picks by trading down instead:
When the Chiefs lost production in their pass rush last year, with health part of the reason why, they looked completely exposed on defense. Dee Ford is not a versatile player, but he's explosive off the edge and knows the way to the QB. If there's a question here, it's whether the Chiefs could have traded down to add picks and still gotten a pass-rusher.
He also lauds offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the later of Kansas City's two sixth-round selections, saying that he's "a sleeper who could turn into something." It'll be interesting to see how the Canadian progresses in the NFL, but he's surely one to keep an eye on.
Though Kiper has the Chiefs graded in the league's lower half, overall, it's a fair assessment from the man with the million-dollar hair.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke also found the Chiefs worthy of a "B-," observing that the team did its best drafting with its late-round picks:
Truly believe the Chiefs' best picks came in Round 5 (QB Aaron Murray) and Round 6 (OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif). The rest of the group features guys that will have to fit into very specific spots, like Dee Ford as a situational pass rusher or De'Anthony Thomas as a Dexter McCluster-like weapon who will need Andy Reid to get creative in getting him the football.
The belief that LDT is one of the better late-round pickups is one that's shared by several draft analysts. He adds depth to a shaky Kansas City O-line, and his status as a sleeper looks to be in serious jeopardy, seeing that nobody is actually sleeping on him.
Burke also commends the third-round selection of cornerback Phillip Gaines, noting that he "shows potential to be a lock-down guy down the road, and he may allow K.C. to trade Brandon Flowers now."
Only time will tell.
SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn sees Kansas City's draft in a slightly better light than the previous two sources but still refuses to go any further than to say it "did alright for itself this weekend." He found the Chiefs' selections deserving of a "B," praising what it accomplished in regard to its defense:
The Chiefs have done a nice job of adding talent to their defense with a limited number of picks. Kansas City went after De'Anthony Thomas a bit early, but the Aaron Murray pick makes a lot of sense in Andy Reid's scheme. Kansas City also got a few offensive lineman [sic] who could develop into starters down the lines [sic].
The idea that a mid-fourth-round selection was any sort of a reach for a player of Thomas' caliber is absolutely ludicrous. As much as Dexter McCluster, the man whom Thomas is thought to be replacing, was loved in Kansas City, he simply wasn't a potent offensive threat.
He rarely picked up significant yards following the catch, as his effectiveness in Reid's offense paled in comparison to his prowess in the return game. Thomas appears much better suited to open up Reid's offense than DMC.
Thomas could easily wind up being an upgrade, and taking advantage of his availability at pick No. 124 was undoubtedly among the Chiefs' draft day wins.
In his compilation of the draft's winners and losers, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal has Kansas City firmly planted among the "losers." It stands out as one of the harsher evaluations of the lot—most of which have the Chiefs hovering just above mediocrity.
Rosenthal criticizes K.C.'s focus on future needs, rather than addressing the issues that require swift action:
The Chiefs had pressing needs after a rough free agency, and they still have massive questions on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Dee Ford is a nice long-term gamble, but should start his career as a part-time player. Third-round cornerback Phillip Gaines seems more like a developmental prospect.
Jamaal Charles will turn 28 during next season and isn't getting any younger. The selection of Aaron Murray in the fifth round may indicate that contract extension talks with Alex Smith aren't going as smoothly as originally anticipated.
There's no telling how small (or large) the Chiefs' window for success is here—Rosenthal's concerns about ignoring present issues are valid. The only semblance of positivity he offers for Kansas City's draft is in relation to the Thomas pick, remarking that he's a "wild card."
While K.C. might not have had the best draft, Rosenthal's designation of "losers" is probably a bit extreme.
Kansas City Star
The Kansas City Star's Terez A. Paylor believes the Chiefs' draft efforts were enough to garner a "B-," which seems to be somewhat of a recurring notion in K.C's post-draft evaluations.
Paylor offers much praise, sprinkled in with just a bit of criticism. He recognizes the organization's failure to address its most urgent needs but reasons that it's a product of underestimated faith in its current roster:
[Aaron] Murray is a nice fit in Andy Reid's offense who will serve as insurance in case the Chiefs and quarterback Alex Smith can't agree to a reasonable extension, while [Zach] Fulton and [Laurent] Duvernay-Tardiff are big, aggressive developmental prospects who might make it. The Chiefs failed to come away with a safety, but that's probably a reflection on the confidence they have in Eric Berry, Sanders Commings and Husain Abdullah.
The confusion regarding not pursing a safety here is likely due to a disparity in thought between the Kansas City front office and its fanbase.
Fans appear to desire an elite free safety, while the front office is simply content with anybody not named Kendrick Lewis. Abdullah isn't starting-caliber, meaning that Commings must be the party responsible for the Chiefs brass' lack of concern with the current situation.
Kansas City took flyers on a couple of UDFA safeties, but that hardly shows a commitment to change in the secondary.
Paylor also explains what exactly damaged the Chiefs' draft most: "Their overall grade is hurt by the fact they a.) could have dearly used a second-round pick and only had six picks, in general, and b.) they didn't come away with a receiver, per se."
The "per se" is clearly a reference to Thomas, as nobody is quite sure what his role will be within Reid's offensive scheme. Considering K.C.'s needs and Thomas' skill set, he likely projects best as a slot receiver but may not provide an immediate impact in that respect.
Paylor manages to refrain from giving the Chiefs any hometown bias, as his appraisal more or less falls in line with the overwhelming consensus of draft evaluators.