You might be surprised to learn that if someone writes about the NFL and the monster that the NFL Draft has become, that person is NOT contractually-obligated to hand out post-draft grades. However, sarcasm aside, your Kansas City Chiefs Examiner will never let an opportunity slip by to talk about the Chiefs and their AFC West rivals.
So do with this what you will, but here are my grades for the four AFC West teams and how they did in this weekend’s NFL Draft. The link on each team’s name goes to one of my counterparts at atombash.com.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Draft pick: CB Marcus Peters (No. 18 overall), C Mitch Morse (No. 49 overall), WR Chris Conley (No. 76 overall), CB Steven Nelson (No. 98 overall), LB Ramik Wilson (No. 118 overall), LB D.J. Alexander (No. 172 overall), TE James O’Shaughnessy (No. 173 overall), DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches (No. 217 overall), WR Da’Ron Brown (No. 233 overall)
If the Chiefs had a grocery list of needs prior to the draft, you could almost mentally picture GM John Dorsey and Head Coach Andy Reid checking boxes off the list as the draft went on.
“Need cornerback. Check. Need center. Check. Need wide receiver. Check!”
There is no doubt that Marcus Peters comes with questions, but almost all of them seem to have more to do with the change in coaching staffs between his sophomore and junior year at Washington. To say that Peters did not handle the transition well is an understatement.
There were 22 players that gained 1,000 or more yards receiving in the NFL last year and the Chiefs play 11 of them. Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins came up 18 yards short of 1,000 yards, otherwise the Chiefs would play 12 of 23. Their need at corner far outweighed their need – and the fan’s desire – for a wide receiver at pick 18.
Peters is the son of a football coach and is now being coached by a man (Reid) who is like another father figure and his position coach (Chiefs Hall of Famer, Emmitt Thomas) is like a grandfather. If he accepts their coaching and controls his emotions on the field without losing his edge, the Chiefs could have a perennial Pro Bowler in the secondary again.
Morse probably was a reach, but all indications are the Chiefs did not feel he would be available the next time they picked so better to take the guy you want too early than to miss out. Morse is a nasty, blue collar workhorse who can play all five positions across the offensive line at an NFL level, which gives him serious value.
When Reid came out afterwards and said that Morse would be competing for the back-up center spot, some insiders freaked out. A top-50 pick for a back-up lineman? The guess here is that was coach-speak meant for soothing ruffled feelings that come after every draft and that Morse will win the starting center job quickly.
Fans may look back on the Chiefs third round in five years and smile as both CB Steven Nelson and WR Chris Conley have huge upsides. If the coaches can get out of them what some scouts believe is there, you’ll probably see Nelson and Conley jerseys in the stands fairly soon.
The rest of the draft provided good speed and depth in positions of need. Wilson and Alexander have a chance to impact the middle of the defense and it wouldn’t shock anyone if O’Shaughnessy is out running patterns in two-TE sets with Travis Kelce once the season starts.
Nunez-Roches and Brown have the tools to impact special teams if they become diamonds in the rough for KC.
Overall grade: B+
Draft pick: DE/LB Shane Ray (No. 23 overall), OL Ty Sambrailo (No. 59 overall), TE Jeff Heuerman (No. 92 overall), C Max Garcia (No. 133 overall), DB Lorenzo Doss (No. 164 overall), NT Darius Kilgo (No. 203 overall), QB Trevor Siemian (No. 250 overall), DB Taurean Nixon (No. 251 overall), DB Josh Furman (No. 252 overall)
The screams of anguish you heard across the Kansas City metro area came when hometown son, Shane Ray, was drafted by one of the two most hated teams in the city – the Denver Broncos. The Broncos traded up in the first round to take the talented pass rushing specialist from Mizzou – moving from the 28th spot to the Detroit Lion’s 23rd overall spot. At one time, the 2014 SEC Player of the Year was considered to be a top-10 pick, but a toe injury and an ill-timed bust for misdemeanor marijuana possession saw Ray fall from his lofty perch.
While on the surface, the Broncos got a terrific player at a spot that could be a steal, one has to question if they paid too steep a price for a player they don’t really need. The Broncos have a still-valuable DeMarcus Ware and All-World linebacker Von Miller in the fold, so Ray could be a luxury. Not being privy to the inner workings of Broncos contract situations, Denver might have pulled a (Chiefs GM) John Dorsey move here and drafted Ray one year before the team really needs him. Regardless, Chiefs QB Alex Smith is sure to see a few hybrid defensive schemes where Ware, Miller, and Ray are all on the field coming after him.
The rest of the Broncos draft was not sexy, but it was solid. Sambrailo is a sound pick who fits head coach Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme to a T. Chiefs fans should get used to seeing tight end Heuerman catching TD passes while Peyton Manning is still upright, because he has excellent hands.
Overall grade: B
Draft pick: WR Amari Cooper (No. 4 overall), DL Mario Edwards Jr. (No. 35 overall), TE Clive Walford (No. 68 overall), OL Jon Feliciano (No. 128 overall), LB Ben Heeney (No. 140 overall), LB Neiron Ball (No 161 overall), LB Max Valles (No. 179 overall), OL Anthony Morris (No. 218 overall), WR Andre Debose (No. 221 overall), CB Dexter McDonald (No. 242 overall)
I hated the Raiders draft, which tells you how good it was. The Chiefs fan in me knew that one of the two top wide receivers in the draft would go to Oakland with the #4 overall pick. Sadly, they bypassed the one I think could bust (Kevin White) and took Alabama’s Cooper, the most complete receiver in the draft. It remains to be seen if the Raiders will regret passing on USC superstar defensive tackle, Leonard Williams, who spent the days before the draft telling everyone that he would have loved to be a Raider. But they may have gotten 85% of his ability at a fraction of the cost at #35 with Edwards. Walford is another excellent young tight end coming into the division. The Jayhawk fan in me would have loved to see LB Heeney in Chiefs Red on Sundays as he’ll probably be a nice role player in the NFL for the next decade.
Overall grade: A-
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Draft pick: RB Melvin Gordon (No. 15 overall), LB Denzel Perryman (No. 48 overall), CB Craig Mager (No. 83 overall), LB Kyle Emanuel (No. 153 overall), DT Darius Philon (No. 192 overall)
The Chargers had one of those drafts where quality will have to overcome quantity as the team only came out of the draft with five players. San Diego had a gaping hole at running back so they traded up in the first round to snag Gordon, one of two first-round talent runners in the entire draft. That part made sense, but they traded their fourth- and fifth-round picks to move up two spots. If Gordon becomes Jamaal Charles, no one will care, but honestly, there were solid backs they could have taken in rounds 2 and 3. Perryman is excellent value at 48 and fills another need, but both players will have to be Pro Bowlers to make this a successful draft.
Overall grade: C
Any draft takes two or three years to judge how good it is. Honestly all four teams did some good things. The Chargers got slightly downgraded due to lack of picks and maybe paying too much for Gordon at running back. Chances are good that at least a few of these names you see above will be playing in Pro Bowls fairly soon and hopefully for the guys in the red jerseys, maybe a Super Bowl or two? Or three??