Kansas City Chiefs: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis
Now that the 2014 NFL draft and its athletic auction are just another "X" on the offseason calendar, the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans are finally afforded a moment to take a breath, reflect and frame everything into its proper perspective.
Last year, the 2013 Chiefs represented a sea change.
Incompetent quarterbacking was a thing of the past. The offense slowly but surely progressed from an antiquated two-scoops-of-vanilla clunker to a modernized maze of routes and runners. The defense graduated from a predominantly passive Cover 2 to a blitzing blitzkrieg.
More importantly, the front office wasn't a stone's throw away from becoming a dictatorship.
However, as the culture changed, so did fans' expectations (Red Sea change?).
So, now that Kansas City has restocked its arsenal with pass-rushing projectile Dee Ford, along with enough offensive ammunition to give Rambo an inferiority complex, did John Dorsey's draft offset free agency's woes?
Round 1, Pick No. 23: Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Round 3, Pick No. 87: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Round 4, Pick No. 124: De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
Round 5, Pick No. 163: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Round 6, Pick No. 193: Zach Fulton, G, Tennessee
Round 6, Pick No. 200: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill (Canada)
When the Chiefs didn't draft a receiver within the first two days, Twitter turned from a local suggestion box to a Roman coliseum.
My theory on why John Dorsey and Andy Reid flipped the script with their first two selections? As long as Peyton Manning is lacing up more cleats than shoes, you're not going to win a shootout against him.
From now until Father Time gives Manning the ultimate one-two, San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland can devote every draft entirely to offense, but at the end of the year, all three will still be locking horns for a wild-card berth.
Seattle crafted the blueprint for defeating Denver, and it didn't orbit around fighting fire with fire. Seattle fought fire with anti-air missiles.
Between 2011 and 2012, the Seahawks headlined 19 picks. Fourteen (74 percent) of them were defensive selections, with one being a first-round rotational pass-rusher (Bruce Irvin).
Now, being that more than half of the Chiefs starting defense is comprised of Pro Bowlers, Kansas City isn't nearly as desperate for defensive personnel as Seattle was. If a team doesn't have an elite passer, the best way to counter one is by building an elite defense.
So, it's no coincidence that Kansas City's most valuable picks were Dee Ford, a rotational edge-rusher, and Phillip Gaines, a lengthy, physical corner.
Passers aren't the ones drenched in sweat at the end of games; the players chasing and defending them are. Try to pinpoint the last time that you saw a quarterback drop like Manny Pacquiao and yelp because of a cramp. (I'll wait.)
Offensively, Dorsey addressed the "now" by drafting De'Anthony Thomas, a versatile athlete who can do everything Dexter McCluster did—only with first-class speed.
After that, he tried to cement the cornerstones of a future passing attack, though Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, depending on their progress, could see a share of regular-season snaps this year.
Having said that, Fulton, a 316-pound bulldozer, is more proficient at run blocking, but he has the tools to develop into a solid pass-protector.
Meanwhile, Duvernay-Tardif's tangibles line up with those of a top-tier offensive tackle, but the NFL is a different beast than the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
If Andy Reid and Co. can sharpen his footwork and effectively acclimate him to America's game, the Canadian's upside is further north than his hometown.
Best Pick: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a sixth-round pick with first-round skills.
Honestly, it's that simple. And the further you read into the situation, the more it becomes a tribute to John Dorsey and his staff.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt noted:
At his pro day, Duvernay-Tardif ran the 40 in 4.94 and 5.08 seconds. He had a 31 1/2-inch vertical and a 9-6 broad jump. He ran the three-cone drill in 7.30 seconds and had 33 bench-press reps. Duvernay-Tardif was not at the combine, but those numbers were as good as any offensive linemen there, including Taylor Lewan.
Reading that, it's natural to wonder how a developmental tackle with grade-A tangibles slipped through the cracks, especially for so long.
After reading reports from Canadian-based sites, it's fairly clear that Kansas City's scouting team covered more ground than the majority of its peers.
Jared Book of LaMetropoleSports.com added on Fansided:
Some scouting reports, like NFL.com, said that he could be taken as early as the third or fourth rounds but an update from his agent on Friday said to expect to be taken closer to the fifth round. He said he wasn’t worried as the end of the sixth round approached with only calls from two teams to get information.
If a left tackle's upside rivals that of early first-round picks and said prospect is still plastered on the board in the sixth round, more than two teams should be interested.
On the field, Duvernay-Tardif is a markedly athletic prospect whose game tape, at least in that regard, bears flashes of Eric Fisher (particularly in open space). The newcomer has bigger hands (subscription required) than last year's No. 1 pick but shorter arms.
Their cons share similarities as well, as both occasionally overextend, allowing pass-rushers to capitalize on their unbalanced stance. The rookie also needs to improve his slide.
However, Duvernay-Tardif has the frame and skill set to evolve into a successful pass-protector. And in the ground game, he's an ill-intentioned road-grader who seals edges with prominent upper-body strength.
Overall, he's a project who totes an NFL-caliber skill set, but due to the leap in competition, his initial effectiveness may get lost in translation.
The rookie should make strides sooner rather than later, though.
Given that he was the last selection of Kansas City's draft, Duvernay-Tardif's potential alone balloons the pick value.
Worst Pick: Aaron Murray
It's not that I don't like Aaron Murray's potential. I do.
And it's not even that I don't like the pick. In fact, last month, I tweeted that the Chiefs wouldn't take a quarterback unless someone like Murray fell to the final day. (Disclaimer: I wore shorts and walked outside to a rainstorm today. No free tarot readings here.)
The only initial concern with this selection was that, at the time, the Chiefs hadn't addressed their somewhat shoddy offensive line. After John Dorsey used the two subsequent picks doing just that, it wasn't such a bitter pill to swallow.
After watching more footage of Murray, I think he needs to work on two things (more so than others): pocket presence and decision making.
Every now and again, Georgia's longtime leader failed to "feel" blindside pressure, which, more times than not, is a recipe for a rough day at the office.
Second, while he doesn't share the daredevil, gunslinger-like mentality that some quarterbacks fall prone to, he occasionally allows pressure to bully him into hasty decisions that he should otherwise avoid.
(Also, judging by this Vine, he has some "That Guy" tendencies when people sleep around him. Untrustworthy.)
His strengths easily outweigh his cons, though. Murray is a consummate leader, and players naturally gravitate toward him.
While his arm strength won't be confused with that of someone like Jay Cutler, it's extremely underrated. At Georgia, he routinely showed that he's more than capable of accurately driving the ball down the field.
He also flashes a quick overhand release, which is integral in a West Coast offense. And the four years of experience that he gained in a pro-style offense are sure to act as a springboard when identifying NFL defenses.
Unlike a year ago (see Braden Wilson), none of Kansas City's 2014 picks were baffling. (Again, if you argue that Dee Ford and Phillip Gaines were, I'll gladly see you to Richard Sherman's Twitter page.)
When Murray's selection was first announced, it was questionable. After Dorsey upgraded the offensive line, picking Murray in Round 4 seemed less like a head-scratcher and more like a luxury. But if there's a position where too much talent is never enough, it's quarterback.
Undrafted Free Agents
Crowds of undrafted free agents (UDFA) have been invited to try out for the Chiefs.
Thus far, as The Kansas City Star's Terez Paylor reports, six have inked contracts.
Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU
Sorenson can become a solid contributor...in a different defense.
He predominately played Cover 2 at BYU. As in, he was only responsible for half of the field. If he were to retain his natural position in a Cover 1, he would be asked to cover everything between the sidelines.
Lewis played fairly well until last season when the defense normally featured a single-high deep safety and exposed his lack of speed. In college, even in Cover 2, Sorensen occasionally had trouble closing the window on go routes.
The BYU safety has laudable intangibles, including instincts, but if he has any shot of excelling with the Chiefs, he'll need to occupy a role similar to Husain Abdullah's (who rarely plays deep).
Albert Wilson, WR, Georgia State
Wilson has a chance to crack the practice squad.
He's a speedy slot receiver with above-average agility, and he also has experience as a return man.
That being said, his hands aren't consistent. Plus, he needs to work on stems and avoiding the jam.
Darryl Surgent, WR, Louisiana-Lafayette
Online video of him is scarce, and after viewing his pro-day numbers, it's hard to pinpoint what distinguishes him from the rest of the pack.
The Chiefs receiving corps isn't exactly flooded with talent, though, so more competition will be welcomed.
David Van Dyke, S, Tennessee State
Like Surgent, the only online tape (NSFW) is comprised of highlights, so it's all but impossible to gauge his pros and cons.
However, he's a deep safety who posted a 4.46 40 time at his pro day, and his closing speed is evident in the little footage that exists.
Van Dyke also appears to be a fundamentally sound tackler, squaring his shoulders and wrapping up in textbook fashion.
Ben Johnson, LB, Tennessee-Martin
Without recent film or more specific measurements (e.g., arm length), guessing which linebacker role that Johnson will assume is just that.
Regardless, excluding Dee Ford, Kansas City desperately needs depth at the position.
Charcandrick West, RB, Abilene Christian
As of now, West is the one UDFA who has jumped off the screen.
Unsurprisingly, his footage only features highlights as well, so his pass protection and receiving still remain a mystery. However, said highlights are far from ordinary.
He's a fleet-footed runner who steamrolls through tackle attempts in a way that would crack a smile on Marshawn Lynch's face (assuming that's possible).
Obviously, the level of competition was inferior, but breaking multiple tackles on any given play is noteworthy. Making a trend of it, irrespective of competition, is absurd.
One thing is certain: Cyrus Gray will be putting extra work in this summer.
What's Next for the Kansas City Chiefs?
With the draft filed in the archives, it's easy to predict Kansas City's starting lineup, with a few exceptions.
From now until the regular season, there will be cuts, tryouts and possible waiver-wire acquisitions, but the roster is, at least in some way, beginning to take shape.
While some will claim that the Chiefs didn't address their need at free safety in the draft, it's probably a testament to how much faith John Dorsey has in Sanders Commings, whose rookie season was derailed by his injured-reserve designation. And if you know anything about the second-year defender, you likely understand why Dorsey's confidence is well-invested.
Disregarding that, over the course of the draft process, Kansas City not only sealed the cracks in its foundation, it laid another one for the future.
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