Chiefs' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2022

Chiefs' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs are looking to reload after falling short in the AFC title game, trading away star wideout Tyreek Hill and watching their AFC West rivals add the likes of Russell Wilson, Davante Adams, Khalil Mack and Chandler Jones.

    The good news is that Kansas City has a pair of first-round selections—Nos. 29 and 30—with which to work. The bad news is that the Chiefs might not find a prospect they truly love with those selections.

    Kansas City reportedly has 16-18 players with first-round grades and doesn't expect many, if any, to fall to them.

    "The odds of maybe one of those guys falling isn't great," general manager Brett Veach said, per Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star.

    Kansas City may be inclined to trade up for a prospect it loves or trade out of the first round with one of its two selections. Presumably, though, the Chiefs will make at least one selection on Thursday's opening night.

    With this in mind, let's delve into three prospects who should be within Kansas City's first-round range.

Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

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    In 2021, the Chiefs ranked 27th in passing yards allowed and 26th in yards per attempt allowed. They then lost staring corner Charvarius Ward in free agency. Finding cornerback help in the draft is a must.

    While Kansas City may struggle to find a Day 1 starter at the back end of Round 1, Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. might be available or within reasonable trade range. The 25th-ranked prospect on the B/R Scouting Department's big board, Booth is a target Kansas City should have circled.

    Booth has the size (6'0", 194 lbs), physicality and ball skills needed to start on the perimeter and to contribute as a rotational piece early.

    "Though he has good press-man skills, Booth works best when he can see routes develop in front of him," B/R's Cory Giddings wrote. "With the ball in the air, he has shown the ball skills needed to defend short and deep passes as well as the ability to play through the receiver."

    Last season, the 21-year-old produced 26 solo stops, five passes defended and three interceptions. His physical style of play could be an asset against AFC West foes. As should his ball-hawking ability.

    Adding Booth wouldn't outright replace Ward, but it would boost Kansas City's secondary and be a great way to kick off the 2022 draft.

Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Chiefs could further bolster their pass defense by adding to their pass rush. Last season, the defense produced a mere 31 sacks, with nine of those coming from defensive lineman Chris Jones. Frank Clark chipped in 4.5 sacks, but no other player had more than three.

    It would behoove the Chiefs to snag an edge-rusher early. The challenge will be finding one who warrants a selection at the back of the first round. Top-tier prospects like Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux will be long gone.

    However, Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie, the 27th-ranked prospect on the B/R board, is one who could fall to Kansas City. The 23-year-old is coming off a 9.5-sack season with the Nittany Lions and could make an early impact for the Chiefs.

    "Ebiketie's flexibility around the edge and ability to make himself a tough target for offensive linemen to hit is up there with anyone else in this class," Derrik Klassen of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "Moreover, his ability to turn the corner all the way back up to the quarterback and finish on pass-rushing reps is exactly what scouts should want in a speed-rusher type."

    Ebitetie could be a terror off the edge opposite Clark and with Jones drawing interior attention.

George Pickens, WR, Georgia

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Wide receivers have been popular picks for the Chiefs in mock drafts, due in no small part to the trading of Hill. Kansas City did add JuJu Smith-Schuster, Corey Coleman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, but they also lost Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle.

    Georgia's George Pickens is a prospect Kansas City is already eying. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Kansas City recently hosted the 21-year-old.

    Pickens is the 39th-ranked prospect on the B/R board and could be a prospect for Kansas City to trade back and target. He's also one they could just go ahead and snag at No. 29 or No. 30. The 6'4", 195-pound pass-catcher is an entirely different receiver than what Kansas City has had recently, which could be a good thing.

    While opponents have gotten used to defending against the Chiefs' fast, downfield passing attack, Pickens is built to outmuscle opposing defenders. Yet he still has the speed (4.47-second 40) needed to create the big play.

    An ACL injury limited Pickens last season, but in 2020 he caught 36 passes for 513 yards and six touchdowns.