Much has been written on the Kansas City Chiefs new draft picks so far, and much more will be written in the coming months as offseason workouts begin and training camp commences. I wanted to offer some brief insight regarding the new Chiefs, and how they might fit in to their new team.
The Chiefs only had 6 picks, with none in the 2nd or 7th round. I discussed the first round pick, Dee Ford, here, so I will start with the Chiefs’ second pick CB Phillip Gaines. Gaines was drafted in the 3rd round (no. 87 overall) after a record-setting career at Rice University in Houston. He is 6’0” and 192 lbs., giving Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton the size he desires at cornerback. He is also quick, running a 4.38 40-yard dash. He set Rice records with 38 career pass break-ups, playing a majority of his snaps in press man coverage, which is what Sutton will likely run in 2014 and which requires jamming receivers at the line. Brandon Flowers, despite making the Pro Bowl for the Chiefs in 2013, is a little undersized and has trouble jamming receivers on the line, so it seems that the Chiefs drafted Gaines to better fit their defensive scheme and to possibly replace Flowers after 2014.
With pick no. 124 in the 4th round, the Chiefs selected WR/RB/KR/PR De’Anthony Thomas from Oregon. This also appears to be a replacement pick as Thomas will likely fill the role that Dexter McCluster departed. Thomas is small (5’8” and 174 lbs.) but had a dynamic career at Oregon, scoring 46 touchdowns (in only 3 years) in every way imaginable. He is very fast and it will be exciting to see how Andy Reid plugs him into the game plan. He can back up Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis (Thomas averaged 7.8 yards per rush and 26 rushing touchdowns in college), return kicks and punts (5 return touchdowns in his career), or line up in the slot or backfield as a receiver (15 receiving touchdowns). As long as he stays healthy, there is a lot of potential for game-changing plays from Thomas.
In the 5th round, the Chiefs selected QB Aaron Murray form Georgia at pick no. 163. A lot has been written about Murray’s storied career at Georgia, where he started for 4 years (another 4-year starter at Georgia is Matt Stafford) and set SEC records for most completions, pass yards, and passing touchdowns (he has more than Peyton Manning!). He is a good fit for the Chiefs’ West Coast offense, and if Reid develops him the way he has developed other QB’s (AJ Feeley, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick), Murray could either become Alex Smith’s replacement or could be used as a trade-bait commodity to fill other holes on the roster in the future. Murray has a slight injury concern after tearing his ACL in the next to last game of the 2013 season, but is reported to be fully recovered. It will be an interesting battle in training camp to see which quarterback is pushed off the roster between Smith, Murray, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray.
At pick no. 193 in the 6th round, the Chiefs selected G Zach Fulton from Tennessee. Fulton is huge (6’7” and 323 lbs) and started 40 out of his 47 games at Tennessee playing right guard. He is regarded as a developmental pick and will likely start out as a backup, but he offers a lot of potential, especially as the Chiefs lost 3 starters from their offensive line. This is one of the few clear positions of need that the Chiefs addressed in the draft, as many fans and experts expected the Chiefs to target a wide receiver, safety and guard.
With their final pick, the Chiefs selected Tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif at pick no. 200 in round 6. He is 6’5” and 298 lbs (his playing weight is around 320 lbs), and was the top-ranked Canadian football player. He was projected to be drafted anywhere from the 3rd to5th rounds, and has been described as a moldable player who could possibly play anywhere on the O-line, quite possibly in a “swing” tackle role as a backup to both Eric Fisher on the left and Donald Stephenson on the right. He will need good coaching and fine-tuning his hand- and footwork, but is an intriguing prospect. It is also worth mentioning that he is a medical student at McGill University and was helping to deliver a set of twins by emergency C-section the day before he was drafted. Quite a weekend for him.
A few trends stick out from the second draft by GM John Dorsey and Andy Reid in Kansas City.
- First, speed was heavily targeted. Dee Ford is known for how fast he comes off the line at the snap, Phillip Gaines had the 5th fastest 40-yard dash time overall at the NFL combine, and De’Anthony Thomas has also ran track at Oregon, which is regarded as one of the nation’s best programs.
- Second, in addition to speed, playmaking ability was also targeted. Last year, Ford had 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss, Gaines had 4 interceptions and 9 pass breakups, Thomas had 10 total touchdowns in only 10 games, and Murray had 33 total touchdowns.
- Third, there were 4 offensive players drafted compared to 2 defensive players, and there seems to be a focus on maintaining the offensive momentum that the Chiefs had in the last 6 games of the 2013 season (including the playoff game). It is clear that the Chiefs felt their defense was good enough and that they hope Sanders Commings will develop as a free safety and stay healthy in 2014.
- Fourth, with the exception of Murray, all of the draft picks can play multiple positions: Ford was a defensive end at Auburn and was drafted to play outside linebacker in Kansas City; Dorsey said there is a possibility that Gaines will also play safety; Thomas was basically drafted to play several positions; and Fulton and Duvernay-Tardif will likely learn multiple O-line positions during their development.
- And finally, Dorsey and Reid seem to be drafting for the present AND the future. Ford, Gaines and Thomas will see plenty of snaps in 2014, whereas Murray, Fulton, and Duvernay-Tardif will be given a year or two to work their way into the lineup, depending on how the players ahead of them (and their contracts) play out.
It is a very exciting time to be a Chiefs fan, and I look forward to watching the new Chiefs in offseason workouts soon. Go Chiefs!