Last season’s National Football League draft was high on sexy names. The top three picks were on every college football fans’ radar long before they put on the NFL Draft Combine’s numbered tank top. This year the top of the draft board is short on skill position and Heisman Trophy candidates and long on functional meat and potatoes guys who won’t grab headlines but will improve a team in ways that aren’t easily calculated. The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock with the first pick in the NFL Draft and for the next handful of weeks will be asked over and over ‘what are you going to do with the first pick?’
Coming off of a two win season, with a new coaching staff and possibly a new quarterback, the Chiefs are starting over in more ways than one. Their biggest need – quarterback – should not be addressed with the first overall pick. Rumors are starting to swirl that they might be hitching their wagon to San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith. Even if they don’t make the move there is not a quarterback worthy of a top ten pick, much less the first overall.
The top of the draft might have been thrown into flux with the announcement that stud defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah might have a heart condition. If those reports are true it will surely drop Lotulelei from number one contention. Even with Lotulelei off of KC’s board at number one, there are still a great group of immediate impact guys on the board.
Assuming the Chiefs don’t trade out of that top spot, they really only have a few positions that make sense at number one.
Offensive line – The draft has three blue chip offensive linemen ripe for the picking. Unlike most years there is position flexibility also. I doubt a guard will ever be taken first overall, but Alabama’s Chance Warmack has been called the best football player in this year’s draft. There are also two tackles that no one would blink at if they went number one – Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher.
Defensive line – With Lotulelei most likely out of consideration as the number one pick there is really only one defensive lineman to talk about in this spot – Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. There could be an outside chance one of the defensive ends sneaks up the board, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Defensive back – Alabama’s Dee Milliner is the top rated defensive back in this years’ draft. Some mock drafts have him going as high as number two. Milliner has an outside shot of going number one, but like his Crimson Tide teammate Warmack, I would still consider him a long shot.
On the offensive line Kansas City was a Jekyll and Hyde unit. They were fifth in the league when it comes to rushing average, but gave up the fifth most quarterback hits and gave up the eleventh most sacks. Some of that is reflective of poor quarterback play, but a good pass protector would help the team’s lackluster passing game.
On the defensive side of the ball the men in red were in the bottom third of the league in rushing yards per attempt and tied for 29th in sacks. Despite the lack of sacks generated, the Chiefs were a respectable 12th in passing yards per game, but were dead last with only seven interceptions. They were behind a good deal of the time so I am sure many teams focused on killing the clock late in games making those statistics more extreme than they would have been if they had been competitive in more games.
Looking at the raw numbers it is tough to say which of the three positions the Arrowhead faithful would most benefit from at number one. They are pretty young on the offensive line and just drafted an interior lineman in the first round last year. They are in danger of losing a starting lineman on each side of the ball with free agents to be Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert. I think it is safe to say they will be picking a guy north of 300 pounds.
I am of the belief that no team can ever have enough quality offensive linemen. Especially when a new quarterback is thrown into a new system the less he has to worry about the pass rush the better. In today’s NFL everyone could use another corner, but if Patrick Peterson didn’t go number one when he came into the league, I don’t know if a cornerback ever will. Bottom line is this – it might not be sexy, but the best move the Kansas City Chiefs can make is to take either Joeckel or Fisher and pencil him in at right or left tackle for the next ten years.