Last year, then Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey began draft night with a bang by moving up 17 selections in the first round to add a player that most fans wanted to see in a Chiefs uniform. The team did not need Patrick Mahomes last season, especially given the needs at other positions, but regardless of those needs, Dorsey saw a bright future with Mahomes down the road and made the jump to get him.
This year’s draft saw new GM Brett Veach move up in the second round to draft defensive lineman Breeland Speaks from Ole Miss. When asked about his position within the defense, head coach Andy Reid suggested that Speaks would contribute at the outside linebacker position, while also contributing along the defensive line in passing situations. Given the fact that the Chiefs spend 75% of their defensive sets in a nickel or dime, defensive back heavy lineup, it should be expected that the team will end up having him contribute more up-front than on the second level of the defense.
With the addition of defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, safety Armani Watts, and cornerback Tremon Smith as the weekend progressed, Veach had a plan to aggressively attack obvious holes in his defense. With the lone offensive draftee, offensive guard Reginald McKenzie, coming with their last pick, the defensive draft selections figure to be a large part of the team’s plans moving forward, but where do they fall in the current depth chart for the Chiefs?
For the purpose of this prediction, I have added the current list of rumored undrafted free agents who have signed deals with the team. This list was last updated on the morning of April 30th.
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Matt McGloin, Chase Litton, Richard Lagow
Runningback: Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Damien Williams, Kerwynn Williams, Akeem Hunt, Darrel Williams, Kyle Hicks
Fullback: Anthony Sherman, J.D. Moore
Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson, De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Kemp, Gehrig Dieter, Nelson Spruce, Byron Pringle, Brandon Shippen, Daniel Braverman, Elijah Marks
Tight End: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Tim Wright, Orson Charles, Jace Amaro, Blake Mack
Tackle: Eric Fisher, Mitchell Shwartz, Jordan Devey, Andrew Wylie, Kaleb Johnson, Devondre Seymour, Jaypee Philbert, James Murray
Guard: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Bryan Witzmann, Parker Ehinger, Dillon Gordon, Kahlil McKenzie, Ryan Hunter, Jake Krause
Center: Mitch Morse, Cameron Erving
Defensive Tackle: Xavier Williams, Derrick Nnadi, Justin Hamilton, Josh Augusta, Dee Liner
Defensive End: Allen Bailey, Chris Jones, Jarvis Jenkins, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Stefan Charles, T.Y. McGill, Dante Sawyer, Robert McCray
Inside Linebacker: Reggie Ragland, Anthony Hitchens, Ukeme Eligwe, Terrance Smith, Ben Niemann
Outside Linebacker: Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Breeland Speaks, Dorian O’Daniel, Frank Zombo, Dadi Nicolas, Tyrone Holmes, Ebenezer Ogundeko
Cornerback: Kendall Fuller, David Amerson, Steven Nelson, Tremon Smith, Will Redmond, Keith Reaser, Prince Charles Iworah, Ashton Lampkin, Makinton Dorleant, Arrion Springs, D’Montre Wade, Byron Fields
Strong Safety: Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen, Jordan Sterns
Free Safety: Eric Murray, Robert Golden, Armani Watts, Leon McQuay
Punter: Dustin Colquitt, Colin Downing
Kicker: Harrison Butker
Long Snapper: James Winchester
This draft is a bit of an unknown, as none of the draftees currently project as starters, but injuries and training camp should shed more light on who might rise above the rest before the season kicks off.
Rookie safety Armani Watts would seem the most likely to get early playing time, but a large portion of that depends on whether the team makes any more moves at either safety spot, whether it be via trade or release within the next few months.
As mentioned before, Speaks would seem to fit the Chiefs defense best at the defensive end spot and he will likely see plenty of snaps there, which would expedite his ability to play. Other than Chris Jones, no defensive line member has performed at an above-average rate within the past few seasons, so the second round selection could see early work up front for a defense in need of run-support defenders.
As always, time will prove whether Veach’s aggression will prove to be the right move for the future of the Chiefs, but will any of them be instant impact performers?
Keaton Henry (Follow him on Twitter)