Chiefs' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

Chiefs' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs head into the 2021 NFL draft without a first-round pick thanks to the trade for offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. While the move may leave fans less excited on opening night, it helps fill a big void for the defending AFC champions.

    Kansas City parted with 2020 starting tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher this offseason.

    While the Chiefs did give up the 31st overall pick to acquire Brown, they also got back a 2021 second-rounder as part of the deal. They now hold the 58th and 63rd overall picks, giving them some solid ammunition for Day 2.

    While Kansas City has a relatively complete roster, it can still improve through the draft. Here we'll examine three prospects the Chiefs should consider in the second round.

Malcolm Koonce, Edge, Buffalo

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    While the Chiefs won't have a shot at one of the class' top edge-rushing prospects, they would be wise to target one early. Kansas City only produced 32 sacks as a team in 2020, and 7.5 of those came from defensive tackle Chris Jones.

    While Jones is undoubtedly a huge asset, the Chiefs could use a bookend edge-defender opposite Frank Clark.

    Buffalo's Malcolm Koonce has the potential to be that bookend sack artist. He is a versatile technician who can win one-on-one battles at the perimeter.

    "Koonce is a lanky and long-armed defender who has experience playing from both an upright and 3-point position," Jordan Reid of The Draft Network wrote. "He's efficient with using his length and hands with a consistent club-rip move that has become his go-to tactic as a pass-rusher."

    Depending on how early the run on pass-rushers starts, the Chiefs may need to ponder trading up to secure Koonce, but he is a high-upside prospect and would be worth the move.

Jabril Cox, LB, LSU

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Adding to the pass rush should be a top priority for Kansas City, but it would also behoove the Chiefs to improve their run defense. The Chiefs ranked 17th in yards per carry surrendered and 21st in rushing yards allowed last season.

    While the tactic rarely worked in 2020, teams are going to continue trying to keep Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense off the field with the ground game until it proves futile.

    LSU linebacker Jabril Cox could help bolster Kansas City's run defense while also benefiting its pass defense at the second level.

    "He's extremely fast with verified playmaking traits and credentials," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote. "His cover talent could help him quickly get on the field."

    In 10 games last season, Cox produced 58 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions.

D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    Do the Chiefs need more speed on the offensive side of the ball? Perhaps not, but they didn't necessarily need it two years ago, and they drafted wideout Mecole Hardman anyway. The reality is that Andy Reid's offense is based heavily around the home run play. And the Chiefs should remain on the lookout for players who can hit it.

    Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge is just such a player. Though not the most polished of pass-catchers, he can be a terror with the ball in his hands. He could also provide help on special teams and in the running game.

    "He's a prospect that will be on every special teams unit—not only as a returner but as a hustle man on both kickoff and punt groups," The Draft Network's Reid wrote. "A vicious and high-effort run-blocker, he has bone-crushing blocks on the perimeter and doesn't take plays off if the ball isn't in his hands."

    While the Chiefs already have a solid receiving trio in Hardman, Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson, they did lose Sammy Watkins in the offseason. Replacing him with Eskridge could help make Kansas City's offense even tougher to contain.