27 September 2020

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Draft Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs finally got their Superbowl after 60 years the Chiefs can finally say they won it all. The Chiefs were Superbowl contenders heading into the 2019 season as they were led by region MVP Patrick Mahomes who was coming off an incredible season and was just one win away from heading to the Superbowl. The Chiefs started great as they were 4-0 and were one of the league’s best teams as expected as they looked like they picked up from where they last left off. Kansas City hit a roadblock when they went on a brief losing streak of 2 games early in the season bringing them to a record of 4-2 leaving the Raiders (3-2)  a chance to tie for the AFC West.

The Chiefs hit another roadblock except for this time it was a major one as Mahomes dislocated his patella in a Week 7 matchup vs the Broncos the Chiefs would go on to win the game but the teams season relied on the seriousness of the injury. After an MRI it was revealed there was no significant damage to Mahomes and he would be expected to miss three weeks of action. Before the injury, the Chiefs were already struggling and they would struggle more with Mahomes out as they would lose only one game and win one will Mahomes was out. Mahomes would return to action week 10 in a matchup vs the Titans but would go on to lose bringing their record to 6-4 and 2-4 the last 6 games. Kansas City would go on to win out the rest of the season and go 10-6 earning themselves a bye week in the playoffs.

In the Divisional round against the Texans, the Chiefs came back from a 24-0 deficit in the second half to win 51-31 and advance to the AFC Championship. The Chiefs would take on the rolling hot Titans and would be questioned on how they would stop running back Derrick Henry and turns out they stopped him as he only ran for 69 yards giving the Chiefs a 35-24 win and were headed to the Superbowl. The Chiefs would go on to come back from a 10 point deficit in the 4th quarter against the 49ers 31-20 to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history. The Chiefs now head into the 2020 season with almost the same team as 20 out of 22 starters are returning to Kansas City and they look to add talent to maintain their hopes of creating a dynasty. Here are some positions the Chiefs could look to strengthen in the draft.

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Cornerback

Mike Ehrmann-Getty Images

Although the Chiefs do have 90% of their starters returning to the team, one starter they lost was cornerback Kendall Fuller who decided to sign with the Redskins, the team who drafted him back in 2016. Fuller did have an offseason for the Chiefs as he only recorded 2 pass deflections which were 10 less than in 2018, 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss and 1 QB hit. Although Fuller did have less playing time in 2019 he had an allowed completion percentage of 76% which is 8% higher than his 2018 season as he was targeted 33 times and allowed 25 completions this past season. Despite his down year during the regular season, he did showcase impressive play throughout the postseason as he sealed the Chiefs Superbowl win with an interception on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Chiefs did re-sign corner Breshaud Breeland who recorded 2 interceptions and 8 pass deflections last season who will likely be the starter heading into 2020. Breeland will be a good starter for Kansas City but the only concerning thing is his long-term with the team as he is returning on a 1-year $4.5 million contract and the Chiefs may be skeptical to give him a decent size contract. With Breeland likely the starter for 2020 the Chiefs should begin to think about the future of the team and draft a corner to be the star for Kansas City’s secondary. A prospect to look out for is A.J Terrell who is coming off a solid year where he recorded 1 pass deflection and 2 interceptions for Clemson’s secondary. Terrell was bullied during some games as teams often targeted him because he did not do well in zone coverage despite that he was one of Clemson’s top players in man coverage. Terrell could look to build up some muscle as he already has the height to play corner at 6’1. With just one year of shadowing veteran corners on the team and getting some playtime throughout the season, Terrell could become a starter after his rookie year. For now, he looks like he would be a solid rotational piece for the Chiefs secondary which would be fine with Breeland likely to be the starter week 1.

Center

Associated Press

The Chiefs offensive line did great in protecting Mahomes as they allowed the 3rd fewest sacks in the league with 25 sacks, just 3 more sacks than the fewest allowed and only allowed 71 QB hits which ranks as one of the fewest in the league. After the Chiefs o-line had a not so good season in protecting the quarterback as they ranked 17th for the most sacks, they have improved their game in the past two years. In 2018 they ranked 5th for the fewest sacks allowed with 26 sacks but did allow 108 QB hits. They decreased those numbers in 2019 as you read their stats above.

The o-line is led by left tackle Eric Fisher who has been one of the Chiefs best blockers since being drafted in 2013 by them along with Fisher he has a solid supporting cast. Everyone had a solid year except for center Austin Reiter, an off-year as he recorded 2 sacks allowed which ranked 10th for the most given up by his position and was called for 8 penalties which ranked for the 4th most at his position. Reiter is returning as he is entering the final year of his 2-year deal signed with Kansas City he signed in 2019 but he is returning at a low cost as he is only taking up around $2.2 million in cap space. The Chiefs may hesitate to re-sign him as he will have a prove-it year to secure a new contract but it is highly likely he will get a low contract in 2020.

The Chiefs should start thinking of the future and draft a center as they begin their run to become the next football dynasty. A prospect to look out for is center Cesar Ruiz who is considered to be one of the best if not the best center in the draft. Ruiz is coming off another excellent season at Michigan where he was a starter for the last 3 years and was one of their top players on their o-line. Bringing impressive running and pass blocking to the table Ruiz looks like a no brainer for the Chiefs as Reiter isn’t the best run blocker. At 6’3 307 lbs Ruiz has impressive footwork and subpar athleticism but knows how to get the job done and could easily become an early starter for the Chiefs making an instant impact on the team.

Defensive Tackle 

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Chief’s defensive line was led by defensive tackle Chris Jones who is returning to the team after being assigned the franchise tag in the off-season after failing to agree on a contract extension. Jones recorded 9 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, and an impressive 20 QB hits with those stats it’s hard to imagine Kansas City letting Jones walk next year without giving him an extension. The Chiefs and Jones still have a lot of time to get a deal done but the Chiefs could look for a solid piece to backup Jones through the negotiation stage. The Chiefs recorded 45 sacks which was good enough to put them in 11th for the most sacks in the league dropping down 10 spots after they finished 2018 in 1st place for the most sacks as they had 52. Besides dropping down in sack numbers the Chiefs d-line has a strong supporting cast consisting of Frank Clark, Derrick Nnadi, and Tanoh Kpassagnon with some solid backups but could look to add a better one.

A prospect to look out for is Rashard Lawrence who is coming off a somewhat off-season for LSU but did come up huge when they needed a big play. Recording only 2.5 sacks and 3 pass deflections Lawrence was better than his stats show as he has high athleticism and strength to push through blockers. Lawrence would often find himself in the backfield blowing up plays and is an excellent run stopper with the help of his subpar speed but could look to be more consistent in blowing up plays as many scouts felt he must step it up to be great in the NFL. Lawrence will be a great piece to a Chiefs d-line that’s already solid as he can be a rotational piece and may take Jones’ place if the Chiefs don’t give him an extension.

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