My first mock draft for Chiefs Focus includes a trade for Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins
We are just 38 days to go until the Chiefs use their first round selection in the 2023 NFL draft.
The Chiefs have made a few moves by signing OT Jawaan Taylor, DL Charles Omenihu, LB Drue Tranquill and DB Mike Edwards. They’ve also retained a few pieces from last season’s championship roster like QB Shane Buechele, TE Jody Fortson, OT Prince Tega Wanogho and P Tommy Townsend.
They still have quite a few spots on the 90-man off-season roster and they could use starters at a number of different positions like DE, DT, Third down RB and WR. With that in mind, I will be sharing my first ever mock draft as a result of the first wave of free agency.
…@PatrickMahomes is different 👀
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) February 13, 2023
Before I start, I want to say that there is a good chance that the Chiefs can still grab veteran star wideout DeAndre Hopkins from the Arizona Cardinals and still have our first round pick to move up or stay put for our offensive tackle or pass rusher of the future. I predict that the Chiefs would send a fourth-rounder (No. 133) and a second-rounder in 2024 in exchange for Nuk and a fifth round pick (No. 168).
Below are my selections based on the positions of need for the Chiefs, the talent in this year’s draft class and how prospects fit within the team’s schemes. I love using that Pro Football Focus’ mock draft simulator. It helps to decide each team’s needs while accounting for the unpredictability that usual happens every year in the draft.
With that begin said, here is my first mock draft that includes another surprising trade.
Round 1 (No. 23): Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
…one of my favorite Nolan Smith snaps. Just blown away with this kid on/off the field. CEO type of prospect, IMO pic.twitter.com/vwhvk1K0oN
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 3, 2023
Every Chiefs mock draft has the team trading up into range No. 18-25 from No. 31. Yes, sure Brett Veach and Andy Reid could go for the No brainer here at offensive tackle if Georgia’s Broderick James, and Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison is still available. But I believe the team will make this move because it would make our defense much better and Sack Nation would add a little more speed with the team trading picks No. 31, No. 123 and No. 168 (from ARZ) for the Minnesota Vikings No. 23 pick to select Georgia’s speedy pass rusher, Nolan Smith. Smith met with the Chiefs formally at the combine and also had been put through a work by Chiefs DL coach Joe Cullen at his Pro Day. Smith ran a 4.39 40 yard dash at the combine (The fastest among all EDGE rushers in this class). He would be that Micah Parsons type of chess player that the Chiefs would love. Smith is a starting EDGE you can win either in the 4-3 at a Wide 9 like Frank Clark or as a 3-4 OLB with in any scheme where he is able to freely create pressure off the edge in pass rush and vs. run using his speed, good athletic ability and very good mental processing.
It makes sense Joe Cullen is down at the Georgia pro day with Carter, Smith & Beal.
— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) March 15, 2023
Round 2 (No. 63): Matthew Bergeron, LT, Syracuse
Auburn DE Derick Hall meet Syracuse OT Matthew Bergeron pic.twitter.com/qq3qMzSzTs
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) February 3, 2023
Another formal combine interview player that the Chiefs believe in. If the Chiefs believe in OL Coach Andy Heck to turn newly signed tackle Jawaan Taylor into a left tackle from right, then Heck can turn Syracuse blindside protector Matthew Bergeron into an even better LT then he was in college. The Chiefs now have address their two most glaring moves. A couple of offensive linemen tend to fall in the NFL Draft every year. The Chiefs have to be hoping that ends up being the case with Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison if they kept No. 31. That’s why you get Bergeron. Bergeron told the Chiefs that he can line up at either left or right tackle but he stated he’s a left tackle. The Quebec native has the size (6-foot-5, 318 pounds) and the ability to get out on the perimeter during running plays and the explosiveness to push defensive linemen back during passing plays. Bergeron can start from day one on this team either on the left or right.
#Syracuse OL Matthew Bergeron says that he met formally with the #Chiefs. Says he has told teams he is willing to be versatile, but feels he is best at left tackle. pic.twitter.com/kZmACsiD14
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) March 4, 2023
Round 3 (No. 95): JL Skinner, S, Boise State
JL Skinner 👀👀👀🤔 pic.twitter.com/Rly9Eipu5k
— Mal Davis (@Love4thegameMal) March 18, 2023
Even after the signing of Mike Edwards, the Chiefs are in need of a playmaking defensive back. They need someone that can get the crowd pumped up with big hit or grab an interception at the most crucial of times. Safety JL Skinner has been that kind of player for Boise State. The 20-year-old can play about any position in the secondary and has elite speed standing at 6-foot-4. The Chiefs was not poor in pass coverage by any means. However, keep in mind what that number could look like with a Kam Chancellor type of player like Skinner added to the mix with Justin Reid, Bryan Cook and the newly signed Edwards.
Round 5 (No. 166): Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion
Old Dominion TE Zack Kuntz blew up the NFL Combine:
4.55forty yard dash (2nd)
1.57 split (2nd)
40” vertical (1st)
10’8” broad jump (1st)
6.87 3 cone (1st)
23 bench (1st)
A physical specimen who with this deep class of TEs could pic.twitter.com/ejAB1kV3l8… https://t.co/KbBf6O05Da
— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) March 7, 2023
There is no way Travis Kelce will be unseated as the Chiefs’ No. 1 tight end anytime soon, but the team would benefit from adding a quality backup behind him who can potentially replace him in the future when Canton comes calling for 87. Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz is a freak athlete and proved that by running a 4.55 40-yard dash and posting a 40-inch vertical jump at the combine. The film shows he has the ability to catch the football and create yards after the catch. He reminds me a lot of Jimmy Graham. Graham played under Matt Nagy when he was the coach of the Bears. Kuntz is a capable blocker and could be used as a rotational piece to sub in when Kelce needs a break. Drafting Kuntz alongside Kelce mentoring him would benefit the Chiefs in the long run.
Round 6 (No. 203): Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina
Keaton Mitchell is faster than every player on the field @ECUPiratesFB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 2, 2021
The Chiefs have another glaring need at running back. They need some one to join with Isiah Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon, who is expected to re-sign with the team later this offseason. The Chiefs are expected to trade Clyde Edwards-Helaire at some point this offseason, so going after Keaton Mitchell would make sense. The East Carolina product ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and posting a 38-inch vertical jump at the Combine. Mitchell has shown that athleticism out on the field by racking up 1,325 yards, 13 touchdowns and no fumbles. Mitchell is also a capable receiver out of the backfield as he caught 25 passes for 235 yards. If we miss out on Deuce Vaughn, Mitchell would be the perfect late-round addition for Mahomes in need of a reliable dump-off option.
Round 6 (No. 219): Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
Stetson Bennett: Highest graded QB in two minute drill situations this season (94.9) pic.twitter.com/P5iafeJdck
— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 1, 2021
The Chiefs find Mahomes’ primary backup in another championship winning QB in Georgia’s 2-time National Champion, Stetson Bennett. Bennett signed with Equity Sports, the agency recently rebranded from Steinberg Sports who also represents Patrick Mahomes. He also worked out at APEX in Fort Worth, TX. Bennett found a way to improve with every college season he played and shined this past fall while leading his squad to back to back titles. Overall, the 25-year-old completed 68.3% of his pass attempts for 4,127 yards and 27 touchdowns (7 interceptions) during the 2022 season. He excels when passing from a clean pocket and his arm talent rivals any other QB prospect’s in the class. The Chiefs would be smart to grab him if he falls to No. 219. Jaren Hall or Clayton Tune could also be options here if Bennett is off the board and Veach is set on selecting a QB.
Round 7 (No. 251): Dante Stills, DT, West Virginia
Throwback to the time Dante Stills killed a man #WVU pic.twitter.com/zpiG6kl3P4
— Jake Lantz (@NiteStare) August 22, 2019
The Chiefs get a player with past Chiefs ties. He is the younger son of former Chiefs LB Gary Stills, who was drafted out of West Virginia and played seven seasons with the team from 1999-2005. His older brother, Darius Stills, was with K.C. briefly during the 2022 NFL offseason after signing a reserve/future contract with the team. However, Dante Stills is a diamond in the rough. Stills put together a very good college football resume, racking up 137 total tackles, 53 tackles for loss, 24.5 sacks, an interception, four balls batted, two fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles in 55 games. The power he possesses from the three-technique spot should allow for an easy transition to the next level. Adding Stills to the mix would only increase Sack Nation’s chances of staying dominant.
Round 7 (No. 257): Hunter Luepke, FB, North Datoka State
Normal fullback can’t do this. @NDSUfootball FB Hunter Luepke is far from normal.#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ pic.twitter.com/kldtjBmOq0
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) October 1, 2022
The Chiefs lost Michael Burton to our rival, Denver Broncos. That’s fine, we get a Kyle Juszczyk clone in North Dakota State’s Hunter Luepke. Luepke is more of an H-back. He can line up all over the field and should be able to fit into any scheme because of his versatility. Chiefs fans watched Kyle Juszczyk give their defense trouble in Super Bowl LIV. Luepke has the potential to be that type of player in the Chiefs offense. The 49ers line Juszczyk up all over the place and use him as a pass-catcher and slip him out in the passing game. Luepke would be the type of player that does the little things.
Follow Chiefs Fan 4 Life on Twitter @ChiefsFan4Lyfe. Check out the rest of my work, including why the Chiefs consider Stetson Bennett in the later-rounds, the other backup options in the draft to consider if Bennett is gone and the draft preview of K-State wide receiver/return specialist Malik Knowles.
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