Welcome Chiefs Kingdom to the first episode of Leading Up To The Draft brought to you by Chiefs Focus. To all of the internet GMs out there this is our time of year when we fantasize about major free agent signings, high draft picks, and picking players we think will lead our team to another Super Bowl. Coming off their recent Super Bowl victory, the Chiefs have fewer holes than most teams and will look to upgrade several position groups on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. In this article, we will take a dive into the different position groups, the depth of the groups, and potential upgrades for each position.
First, we will start with the most important position in football, quarterback. The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes under lock for the foreseeable future, however, with Chad Hennes retirement, there are questions behind him. Shane Buchele and Chris Oladokun are the only two quarterbacks on the roster behind Mahomes. Don’t expect to see any major investment in the quarterback room this year, however, a late-round pick, an aging veteran, or another undrafted free agent will most likely be added to the quarterback group. Several mid to late round picks that intrigue me are Stetson Bennet from Georgia and Clayton Tune from Houston. Bennet is undersized coming in under 6 feet, however, all he has done in college is win. Coming off a second National Championship, Bennet is a proven leader and a great locker room presence and could slide in emergency situations and give the team a confident backup. Tune is a more prototypical NFL quarterback. at 6’2 220 pounds he has the size most teams are looking for. In his last 2 seasons at Houston, Tune threw for over 7500 yards and 70 touchdowns, while averaging 10 or fewer interceptions per year. In his final season at Houston, Tune also amassed over 500 rushing yards giving the Chiefs the mobility the like in a quarterback. If Tune is sitting there in the 6th or 7th round, don’t be surprised if Veach has his name called.
Next, we will take a look at the running back room. Possibly losing Jerick Mckinnon this off-season could leave us in a situation to draft a mid to late-round complementary back to go along with rookie standout Isaah Pacheco. What Mckinnon did during this Super Bowl run was very underrated. From his 6-game touchdown streak to him helping our struggling tackle group in blocking, Mckinnon was an all-around chess piece. Replacing that kind of versatility will be hard, however, I feel that in year two Pacheco will be able to step in and fill some of those passing down roles. A couple of mid to late round running backs I have my eye on are hometown running back Deuce Vaughn, and Travis Dye from USC. Vaugn will not be the blocker that Mckinnon was, however he was a very willing blocker in college and will most likely only be used in chip blocks. What he lacks in blocking he makes up for with his receiving game. Vaughn is electric in the passing game, often making defenders miss in the open field, and while running he uses his small frame to fit through tight gaps. Vaughn accumulated over 3000 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns on the ground. Travis Dye on the other hand has more size and bulk compared to Vaughn. at 5’10 and over 200 pounds, Dye will give the Chiefs more of a rotational back to Pacheco, and a bigger blocker to sit in the backfield to protect Mahomes. To me, Vaughn is my mid to late round draft crush that will add another dimension to an already potent Chiefs offense, but either back would be a solid addition in the later rounds of the draft.
Weapons, weapons, weapons. This has been consistent in most Chiefs spaces, podcasts and mock drafts. A quick look at the Chiefs wide receiver depth will show a complete lack of production. With Juju gone, and MVS being the highest producing wide receiver at 687 yards last season, there is some concern on whether year two Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, MVS and Justyn Ross can keep up with previous high-flying offenses. We lack overall size at the position, and behind MVS its basically an unknown. While we all have high hopes for Skyy Moore’s development and Toney’s explosiveness, it would be unwise to go through the draft without adding another piece to compete for that number 2 receiving spot. A couple early picks I like are Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Josh Downs. JSN gives us the size we lack and would immediately step in and be our starting slot receiver, allowing Toney to slide outside and be the outside threat he was meant to be. Downs is the receiver we all wanted Mecole Hardman to become. He is an explosive route runner, and the type that could juke someone in a phone booth. Downs would give the Chiefs an elite outside target, as he excels in the short and deep game. Downs at 31 may be higher than he is projected by most, but to me adding him at 31, would be a no brainer. A few mid round receivers I have grown to like are Trey Palmer from Nebraska, Marvin Mims from Oklahoma, and Xavier Hutchinson from Iowa State. All three of these receivers could immediately step in and be complimentary pieces to Skyy, MVS and Toney. In my opinion, barring a trade, look for Veach to make a move at receiver early in the draft.
This one will be short and sweet. The Chiefs have Travis Kelce as a lock for a couple more years as the best tight end in the league. However, Kelce will be 34 this season, and soon we will start to see a regression. Could this be the year for the Chiefs’ future at tight end? If so, Dalton Kincaid is the answer. Kincaid is one of the best weapons in this draft. Hi shiftiness and wiggle in the middle give me Kelce vibes. If there is one game changing tight end in this draft, I would put my money on Dalton Kincaid. Behind Kincaid, a few depth level prospects I like are the 6’5 monster Tucker Kraft and Will Mallory. Mallory will need to put on some muscle at the next level and work on his in and out cuts, but with his straight-line speed he could be a nightmare for linebackers. Kraft on the other hand has the size to be a blocker, and the athletic ability to be a jump ball target in the red zone. I doubt we will see much investment into the tight end room his year, but if were looking for life after Kelce, I’m all in on Dalton Kincaid.
Now let’s get into the trenches and one of my favorite topics, how to keep Mahomes upright. The Chiefs have possibly the best interior offensive line in football. Outside of the middle three however, tackle play has been less than desirable. To most fans’ approval, the Chiefs have moved on from Orlando and Andrew Wylie. This year’s draft is loaded at the tackle position. The Chiefs recently signed Jawaan Taylor to left tackle money deal so I think it is safe to say that is where he will be playing. With that in mind, I am very high on several early and mid-round right tackles. A possible first round target for the Chiefs could be Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright. This guy is a mammoth at 6’5 and 333 pounds. Adding him to the right side next to Trey Smith would create an unmovable wall. This might give us a top 5 offensive line in all of football and would make Pacheco really happy. A couple mid round prospects I’d be happy with are Blake Freeland and Matthew Bergeron. For a tackle, Bergeron is Explosive, and has that quick burst that will allow him to compete with some of the best defensive ends. Freeland on the other hand, even though he lacks that burst. has elite athleticism for his size. He would need to work on lowering his pad level at the next level, however I could see him as an immediate upgrade in the pass blocking scheme of this offense.