Poll: Grading the Chiefs draft picks
For the past four months, NFL analysts like Mel Kiper Jr. have debated the strengths and weaknesses of every single college football player in the NFL draft. They graded the prospects’ skill level, knowledge of the game, character and potential, put it in a blender and spit out a bunch of rankings. Then they analyzed every NFL football team’s needs and determined which players would be the best fit for each team. Then they graded the teams after the draft based on how well they filled those needs.
Absurd, isn’t it?
Take all of this analysis with a grain of salt. Want to know how many first round draft picks Kiper Jr. correctly predicted? Five. Five of his 32 first round picks actually happened like he said it would. So even the guy who’s dedicated his life to analyzing and ranking college football players is guessing when it comes to which teams will pick which players and why.
We all love pretending to be an NFL General Manager, dreaming about how a certain player might take a team like the Chiefs and lead them to the playoffs. But let’s be honest here. No one will really know how these players pan out for a few years, not until they’ve faced actual NFL competition and proven their worth between the lines. Until then, we can dream about the Chief’s picks and hope every single one of them pans out to be an All-Pro player. So how do you think the Chiefs did in this draft?
Let’s start at the top with left tackle Eric Fisher. I love this pick. It’s not a glamorous position, but with All Pro Jamaal Charles in the backfield, the Chiefs need great blockers to open up holes in their running game. They also need great pass blockers to protect new quarterback Alex Smith. Fisher is both, and wherever he plays on the line, it will be much better with him in it than they were last year.
In the third round, the Chiefs took Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce is fast with sure hands, and scouts also compliment his blocking, calling him relentless. The Chiefs need more blockers and the fact he can catch the rock gives Smith an extra target. I like this pick simply for the fact that Tony Moeaki did not play as well last year as he did his rookie year. Hopefully Kelce can step in and give the offense the extra weapon it’s been lacking.
At the end of the third round, the Chiefs took Arkansas running back Knile Davis. To be honest with you, I think there were better backs still on the board at the time. Davis had an ankle injury in 2011 and wasn’t used very much last season. Sure, he had a monster 2010 season, but that was three years ago. UCLA back Johnathan Franklin, regarded by many as the best back in the draft, was still available, so I wonder what John Dorsey and Andy Reid were thinking. I hope they prove me wrong, but the Chiefs need someone who can step in and rack up big yards if Charles gets hurt next season. I don’t know if Davis can do that.
In the fourth round, the Chiefs took inside linebacker Nico Johnson, an excellent pick. The Chiefs have a dire need to replace Jovan Belcher’s production, and Johnson won three national championships while at Alabama. Having a guy who knows how to win in the locker room is always a good thing, and the competition Johnson faced at Alabama, having to work hard every practice against other five-star athletes just to keep your starting job, no doubt prepared him for the NFL. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Fisher end up being the best players to come out of this draft.
In the fifth round, the Chiefs took Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings. Scouts are torn on him. They love his man-to-man press skills but say he struggles to defend in space. Reid says he wants to try Commings out at free safety and provide some competition for incumbent Kendrick Lewis. The fact Commings played the outfield in high school and was even drafted to play in the major leagues (he turned it down to play college football) shows he knows how to track down fly balls. Will it translate into grat ball hawking skills in the secondary? We’ll have to wait and see.
In the sixth round, the Chiefs took center Eric Kush from a small school in Pennsylvania. Kush is regarded as a sleeper pick because while he was the strength and speed to play against NFL defenders, he doesn’t have any experience on the big stage against equal competition. The Chiefs liked his makeup and if he can overcome the small school label, he might end up being a solid backup lineman – especially considering current center Rodney Hudson spent most of last year on the injured reserve list.
I really love the potential of the Chiefs last two picks. Reid rated K-State fullback Braden Wilson the best blocking fullback in the draft. The Chiefs need someone to clear holes for Charles, especially on third and short situations. If Wilson can produce on his five to ten snaps per game, he could end up being the difference between Kansas City winning five games and ten games. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of getting first downs to keep the clock running and the ball moving downfield.
And finally, in the seventh round the Chiefs took defensive end Mike Catapano from Princeton. A smart meat head. Everything I’ve read about this guy indicates he has a high motor and an amazing work ethic with a huge upside. That’s what the Chiefs need. Depth. Guys who will come in and push the starters to be even better. A guy like Catapano might end up spending a couple years on the practice squad, but if it eventually all clicks for him, he could end up being the steal of the draft.
My overall grade for the Chiefs?
It’ll be fun to see how they play once they put the pads on in the fall.
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