By Devin Hoover Twitter: @Devinhoover11
We all have our draft crushes leading up to the big night, who we want the Chiefs to take, and who we absolutely don’t want them to take. In the end, it’s all a gamble. There’s no scientific method for choosing the correct players. Some work out, and others don’t. Brett Veach has shown in recent years that he can be trusted when it comes to the draft, so Chief’s fans should just sit back and relax. The team has won 2 Super Bowls in 4 years. Unless you’re a Patriots fan, it doesn’t get much better than that this century.
In fact, the Chiefs are actually in a position where trading out of the first round would probably be the best move for them. However, that is highly unlikely due to one factor. The draft is in Kansas City this year. There would be no quicker way to disappoint a fanbase than to trade away your first-round pick when the draft is in your backyard just months after winning the Super Bowl. There is also a good chance the Chiefs will trade up in the draft to snag a player they don’t believe would fall to them at 31, which would certainly fire up the crowd. If the Chiefs don’t get an opportunity to trade up though, they may have to reach for a player at 31, and that may not be exactly who we expect it to be as things currently sit. So, what players could the Chiefs surprise us with their first pick of the draft? Once again, these picks aren’t what I would do, or what most expect the Chiefs to do on draft night. They are picks that could still happen, even if unlikely. So, let’s jump into it.
Jaelyn Duncan, OT Maryland
It’s clear that the Chiefs are doing their research when it comes to the OT group in this draft. Using top 30 visits on Darnell Wright, Anton Harrison, Cooper Hodges, and of course the man above, Jaelyn Duncan. Duncan is widely considered to be a mid to late day two pick. That being said, Duncan fits the size profile that the Chiefs like to run on the OL, and he is an incredible athlete for his size.
Jaelyn Duncan is a OT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.01 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 128 out of 1288 OT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/cfsr5PD8HS #RAS pic.twitter.com/fMhdGPBDlO
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 8, 2023
The reason that Duncan isn’t a projected first-rounder is that he is still somewhat of a project. He has concerns when it comes to the run game, and would likely struggle in his first year against power rushers. He has quick feet though and can recover at times even when beaten at first. So, why would the Chiefs be interested? It’s possible they could see Duncan as an instant starter at LT. We all know the Chiefs aren’t a run-heavy team, and won’t be as long as Patrick Mahomes is behind center. Duncan wouldn’t be asked to run-block very often and could focus on developing his pass sets. Playing next to Joe Thuney is the reason the Chiefs could feel confident in this move. This also allows Jawan Taylor to stick on the right side where he has played his whole career.
The scenario in which this happens is that a run on OT happens in the first round, and Duncan is the highest-graded player left on the Chiefs board. On the consensus board, Duncan is OT8, but every team has its board, and Duncan could grade higher for the Chiefs. It is worth noting Duncan would be OT4 of the tackles who primarily played LT, which could raise his stock to the Chiefs.
Jonathan Mingo, WR Ole Miss
It’s getting clearer that the WR class this year doesn’t stack up to the phenomenal classes we’ve had in recent years. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus top 5 this year, and everyone has their favorite. Recently, it seems as though Jonathan Mingo has been soaring up draft boards. It has been reported that he interviews well, and teams are excited by his athletic upside. In a year that we keep hearing behind the scenes that teams are unimpressed by the WR class, but keep hearing great things about Mingo, could we hear his name called at the end of night one?
Jonathan Mingo is a WR prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.86 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 43 out of 3048 WR from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/LbCjhpXIIB pic.twitter.com/HpxaYlQy9B
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 15, 2023
Mingo’s testing scores certainly show the traits of a first-round WR, and he’s coming from the same school as AJ Brown and DK Metcalf. The production wasn’t quite there in college, but perhaps Mingo may be even better as a pro playing alongside Patrick Mahomes. Mingo feels like an ideal target for the Chiefs on day two of the draft, but if the Chiefs are scared he could be gone by their next pick, why not take the luxury of using your first pick on him? As with every pick, it’s only a reach if it doesn’t work out. There is a non-zero chance that Mingo could end up the best receiver out in this class. Would I put money on it? No, but I wouldn’t be upset if the Chiefs took Mingo at 31, and I don’t think it is an unrealistic possibility.
Cam Smith, CB South Carolina
The Chiefs wouldn’t possibly spend another first-rounder on a cornerback right? They just took Trent McDuffie a year ago, they still have Sneed, and they have gotten great play out of Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson. So why would they even think about a corner in round 1? While all this is true, there are a lot of factors at work here. Sneed is entering his contract year, and if the Chiefs aren’t willing to pay him, then he could be traded at some point in the draft, or be allowed to walk next offseason in exchange for a compensatory draft pick. Watson and Williams did play great when called upon, but the Chiefs may be worried about regression from their late-round rookies.
Cam Smith is another player who has been on a top-30 visit to the Chiefs and is projected to go around where the Chiefs are picking. The positional value on the surface is why this pick would be surprising. As of now, the Chiefs DB group is one of their strongest groups. As mentioned though, that could change rather quickly. Cam Smith would be a way to future-proof the room even further.
This pick would be the only pick of the three that may not be considered a reach on draft night, but at the same time is the only pick that doesn’t address a need for the Chiefs. In the end, there is no way of knowing where the Chiefs will go on night one. They could surprise us by reaching for one of “their guys” or perhaps they’ll stick to the consensus. Maybe a big name will begin falling like McDuffie did last year, and they will make the move to get their guy. We will all just have to wait until April 27th to find out.