From top to bottom, the 2022 Kansas City Chiefs had one of the most complete rosters in the league. Brett Veach knew that landing two instant-impact rookies in Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis help this team win the Lombardi Trophy in 2022. He’s never reckless, but the Chiefs GM has proven he’s not afraid to get the guy he wants, whether that player is from the Power-5 schools or FCS schools including the HBCUs (historically Black Colleges and Universities).
Last April, HBCU Football had four players drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. DB Decobie Durant (South Carolina St.), DB Joshua Williams (Fayetteville St.), OL Ja’Tyre Carter (Southern), and LB James Houston (Jackson State) are making their mark in professional football. Today, several highly-regarded players have pro aspirations and will be available for the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City.
When came to drafting Joshua Williams, Veach knows when to pull the trigger on a player from programs that other teams don’t pay attention to rather it was finding undrafted rookie free agent pass rusher Tershawn Wharton at Missouri S&T or running back Isiah Pacheco coming from a Power-5 school like Rutgers but wasn’t drafted until the 7th round speaks volumes on the time Veach and staff sent on Pacheco that the 31 other teams didn’t see in him. If a prospect he loves especially from the HBCU programs begins to slip in the later rounds, don’t be surprised to see the Chiefs make another Joshua Williams selection in 2023. Here are five HBCU players the Chiefs should consider in the NFL Draft.
1. De’Jahn Warren, CB, Jackson State:
De’Jahn Warren has the size (6-foot-1) and speed (4.29 according to NFLDraftbuzz.com). He absolutely lit it up at Jackson State allowing just 49.4% completion percentage and a 73.5 opposing passer rating since 2020. Warren has the length, speed, ball skills, and football IQ to play cornerback for Steve Spagnuolo. He still has things to work on, such as muscle mass and playing more physically, however, his raw athleticism alone makes him an attractive draft target. Add in the fact that he also has special teams experience and it’s hard imagining the Chiefs not having a place for his skill in their lineup. For a Day 3 draft pick for the Chiefs, Warren makes a lot of sense.
2. Aubrey Miller Jr., LB, Jackson State:
Another intriguing playmaker from Jackson State that the Chiefs should have their eye on is linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr. The 2022 SWAC Defensive Player of The Year played a big role in the FCS’s top-ranked defensive campaign, recording 117 total tackles, 12.0 tackles for a loss, 5 forced fumbles, and 2.0 sacks as a senior. Miller possesses a great mixture of speed and explosivity that’ll keep the opposition guessing on every down. There’s room for improvement regarding his patience, but Miller has all the tools to be a mainstay defensive playmaker for the Chiefs for years to come.
3. Kemari Averett, TE, Bethune-Cookman:
The Chiefs are free to do what they want to do and they will have to nail some late-round sleepers. Starting tight end Travis Kelce isn’t getting any younger even though he can still dominate but securing an athletic backup in case of injury is a smart idea. That makes picking Bethune-Cookman’s Kemari Averett a consideration. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end presents the insane physical prototype at tight end that NFL teams dream of having in their respective offenses. With his insane size and speed combination, Averett is just a solid pre-draft showing away from being a high-end mid-round selection. Learning from Kelce gives him a great shot to reach his full potential and gives Patrick Mahomes another red-zone threat.
4. Mark Evans II, OL, Arkansas-Pine Bluff:
While the Chiefs were sufficient at limiting sacks last season, it’s worth noting that despite his best performance of his career in Super Bowl 57, Andrew Wylie did allow 9 sacks (most among right tackles). It wouldn’t be surprising to see the front office add more offensive line depth in one way or another during this draft. Mark Evans II out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff is a player that the Chiefs could use. The Golden Lions standout appeared in 30 games over his final three college seasons and gave up only 5.0 sacks in that span (1,621 offensive snaps). The Chiefs’ top O-line need is right tackle (The Chiefs plan to use the franchise tag on Brown so they can extend him) and even though Evans II didn’t play right tackle in college. Time will tell if he can make that transition at the NFL level but even if he can’t, he could be too promising of a player for the Chiefs to pass up.
5. Shaquan Davis, WR, South Carolina State:
Veach won’t be swinging for the fences for a wide receiver. But if you’re going to gamble on an unpolished receiver in any part of the draft as they did with Tyreek Hill in 2016, you want to do it with a freak athlete like Shaquan Davis. A 6-foot-5 wideout, Davis’ draft stock could skyrocket if he lights up during the draft process. Davis saved his best season for last with the Bulldogs, posting 934 yards to go along with 9 touchdowns on 45 receptions during his 2022 season (11 games). He just needs to add on some weight to compete with the toughness of NFL cornerbacks, but the raw potential is there. He has a ways to go with the more technical aspects of his game, but the upside is hard to ignore with the hand skills to come down with 50/50 balls. Davis lines up as the perfect downfield target for Mahomes.