With Super Bowl LI now firmly in the rear view mirror, the long wait for the 2017 NFL Draft is over and what an intriguing year this is.
By far the deepest and most talented I have scouted, with all thirty two of the teams’ big boards varying wildly, providing us with scant clue as to their intentions. Even with the first overall pick is shrouded in uncertainty.
The Kansas City Chiefs have one if not the best roster in the league today from top to bottom, regularly alluded to by the finest NFL minds, a testament to the outstanding work John Dorsey and his front office team have put in since reinvigorating a tired franchise back in 2012, building them into a perennial postseason fixture and reigning champions of football’s toughest division.
So what does this mean in terms of their approach to this outstanding class. The roster does not have any pressing holes, thanks to said outstanding utilisation of a plethora of recruiting techniques, notably intelligent use of the waiver wire, prudent use of free agency without overspending, undrafted free agency and the most successful draft classes in terms of starting snaps over the past four years.
Let’s be honest, no one and that includes the vast majority at One Arrowhead Drive knows who the Chiefs, given certain scenarios (of which will have been endlessly played out in the war room) will draft, nor do we have any indication what their specific draft board looks like and the medical/character assessments. (i.e Baylor’s Andrew Billings’ considerable fall from second round graded talent to undrafted free agent a year ago).
John Dorsey is a graduate of the Ron Woolf school at Green Bay, which is important to keep in mind. A school of thought that puts great value in draft picks as something to treasure, not fritter away cheaply and of all the approaches to the NFL Draft, the now overused ‘best player available’ tag really does apply here. However, it is a sweeping statement and decoded means, ‘best player available on OUR board’ not what we think on the outside and further makes redundant my most hated term at this time of the year ‘reach’. It is all in the eye of the beholder.
So with all of this in mind let’s put together a draft class for the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs, who it should be noted return the most players from the 2016 campaign in the league, such is the continuity of the franchise. Simply put, the AFC West Champions are in the enviable situation of letting the draft come to them, indicative of the annually successful organisations in a league designed to be dominated by flux.
The Chiefs can look to cement their success by looking to the future and few draft as well with one eye on the contract and cap situation twelve months ahead than this front office.
1 (27) TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE/CB, Louisiana State
In this scenario, the Chiefs will have the choice of one of a trio of big, tall, rangy press corners perfect for Bob Sutton’s physical coverage style in Tre’ White, Washington’s Kevin King or Florida’s impressive Quincy Wilson. All three will be able to be slotted seamlessly opposite Marcus Peters, a third year star who teams will continue to avoid throwing towards 2017/18.
Terrance Mitchell was excellent during the concluding weeks of the 2016/17 season, bar the road victory over San Diego, but the question remains whether he can sustain that over the course of an entire season. Given the first place schedule they face this campaign that will pit them against the likes of Tom Brady, Ben Rothlisberger Derek Carr and Eli Manning, addressing the RCB spot is essential at some point in the draft and having one or more of these talents fall to them will be too good an opportunity to pass up. A case of pick the perfect poison here between these three.
Of course rumours have been rife that the Chiefs are looking ahead to drafting Alex Smith’s future successor. It would certainly be prudent to do so, simply in order to prevent a future transitional period of struggle when Smith decides to hang up his cleats. Any prudent general manager worth their salt and John Dorsey being a fine example, will want to address this scenario so that the team can transition seamlessly. For me, IF and its a big IF Clemson’s Deshaun Watson remains on the board, then he should be the pick as his skill set mirrors very closely to the west coast offense run by head coach Andy Reid and it is worth noting the mutual respect has been warm from both camps. There will be ample developmental passers available on day two otherwise, in a class where none are ready to start in year one.
We only have to go back twelve months, where Dorsey made one of the best moves of the entire draft to trade out of the first round, gain additional draft currency and pick tip the outstanding first round talents of Mississippi State’s Chris Jones in the first half of the second round. Don’t count out this possibility, with a plethora of teams such as San Francisco, Chicago, Jacksonville and Buffalo, who will be looking to get back into the first round to get a quarterback before they are all off the board.
This is where the more stable franchises benefit from the collective panic of such quarterback needy teams. As for a big, physical press corner, the Chiefs could more than feasibly trade out of the first round altogether, in so doing gain an additional second round selection and still come away with one of White, Wilson, King or even the gritty Chidobe Awuzie of Colorado.
It goes without saying that the Chiefs ‘need’ additional help at the inside linebacker spot. While the organisation wins the draft so often by not being hamstrung by need, if the likes of Rueben Foster or Florida’s Jarrad Davis fall to #27, then there would be a tantalising decision to be made. However, judging by KC’s offseason activity, I know they have great admiration for another inside linebacker who can be had on the second day, which will be covered in our next edition.
Certainly the outstanding and intense Ryan Anderson would be a great fit, bringing a physical swagger to the second level and can line up in a multitude of spots and rush the passer on the outside when asked or as a blitzed attacking the gap. Kansas State’s outside linebacker Jordan Willis is another who will be there to consider, whom again has much positional flexibility, although more of a pure pass rushing talent than the former.
Don’t count out Alabama’s Tim Williams who will be in play, something of a one-dimensional pass rusher on obvious passing situations, but knows just how to get to the quarterback. Auburn’s hugely talented Carl Lawson reminds me in many ways of his former pass rushing partner in crime Dee Ford, at a position where you can never have enough good talent. This is particularly true with the consistently disruptive Tamba Hali not getting any younger and defying the tread on his tyres.
Where is the value this year?
Without doubt, the greatest value will lie in the back end of the second round right through to and including round four. A deeply talented class that plays perfectly into the hands of the Chiefs, who sit in a position many teams will want to offer trade chips to get back into the first round. Kansas City could amass considerable starting talent if it decides to go this way, something I would be in favour of.
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