Draft Time 2011

April 26th, 2011 by Lee Eldridge

Kansas City ChiefsI have a confession to make. I’m not excited about the NFL draft this year. I think my brain is still waiting for free agency. And I’m definitely behind in my research. So take this for what it’s worth. It seems that most mock drafts have the Chiefs selecting an offensive tackle in the first round. If they do, I’ll be shocked.

Let’s review the Chiefs’ biggest needs. And when you think of the team’s needs, don’t just focus on this year. Think about the next three years, and what contracts will be expiring among the current players. And what players are nearing the end of their careers.

1. Nose Tackle: This is where the lack of free agency makes this draft even more interesting than normal. Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith are both free agents. If the Chiefs played a game today, their starting nose tackle would probably be Anthony Toribio. Who? Exactly. Now the Chiefs might feel good that they’ll get Edwards and Smith signed, but there are no guarantees. And neither of them are long-term solutions at nose tackle. This is the biggest hole in a young and developing defensive unit.

2. Wide Receiver: Not only do the Chiefs have a big hole in the starting position opposite Dwayne Bowe, but I believe that Bowe has only one year left on his contract. If they lose Bowe next year, what do they have left? Not much.

3. Offensive Center / Guard: Starting center Casey Wiegmann is a free agent, and he’s 37 years old. Left guard Brian Waters is 34, and nearing the end of his career. The only guy on the roster that looks like a future replacement is Jon Asamoah. The Chiefs need at least one more projected starter for the future interior of their offensive line.

4. Cornerback: Starter Brandon Carr is a free agent, and is inconsistent. Rookie Javier Arenas is good in the slot, but does not project to be a starting cornerback. And you can never have enough good cornerbacks on your team.

You can argue that the team needs more talent at linebacker and at offensive tackle. I won’t argue that point. They do. I just don’t list either as one of their top four needs. Though that doesn’t mean that they won’t find value here with the 21st pick in the draft.

Now back to offensive tackle. When the Chiefs pick late in the first round, the available tackles will likely all be projected as right tackles, not left tackles. Why would you draft a right tackle in the first round when you clearly have other, more important needs? The Chiefs want to find the right fit for the person, the position in the draft, and team need.

So who will the Chiefs draft this year? I would love to see the Chiefs have the opportunity to draft center Mike Pouncey from Florida, who is widely regarded as the best interior offensive lineman available. Most mock drafts have him picked just a few spots in front of the Chiefs. He could slide to the Chiefs, but it’s not likely. The draft appears pretty deep along the defensive line, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Chiefs draft a pass rushing defensive end who they can move to the outside linebacker position opposite Tamba Hali. Late in the first round there’s usually good value for an inside linebacker, and I can imagine the Chiefs looking for some competition for Javon Belcher in the middle. And there are a couple of cornerbacks who are projected to go late in the first round. Corners often seem to go a little higher than they’re ranked, so keep on eye on players such as Aaron Williams and Brandon Harris. The general consensus is that their won’t be a wide receiver on the board worthy of picking when the Chiefs pick. So unless the Chiefs trade down, they’re not likely to grab a receiver with their first pick.

Prediction: If Pouncey is on the board, he’s our man. But that seems unlikely, and he’s the only interior offensive lineman worth taking with this pick. The Chiefs decide they don’t find enough value among the available wide receivers, nose tackles and outside linebackers. They try to trade down but can’t. Wanting a bigger cornerback to partner with Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs pick Aaron Williams from Texas. He’s got good size, and is good against the run and the pass. Does anybody know if he’s a team captain?

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One Response to “Draft Time 2011”

  1. Lee Eldridge Says:

    As a quick follow up: Have been reading lots of mock drafts, and at least half of them have the Chiefs selecting an offensive tackle such as Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi or Nate Solder. Out of these three I like the profile of Carimi the best. Though most of the mock drafts had the Chiefs picking an offensive tackle last year too. I’m still not convinced they’ll take a tackle, but if they’re unable to trade down, then tackle might end up as the best value on the board. So I am retreating a bit. I won’t be shocked if the Chiefs pick an OT. I’m still hoping that Pouncey falls to the Chiefs — though you can draft guards and centers in rounds two and three and typically still get some of the top talent at these positions.

    The other name I keep coming back to is Akeem Ayers, the outside linebacker from UCLA. He projects to be able to play in either the 4-3 or the 3-4. He appears to have good size, quickness, and both coverage and pass rushing ability. He was also a team captain for UCLA. He looks like he fits both a need, and the Pioli profile. Would be decent value at #21.