It’s only a couple weeks away from the April 27-29 NFL Draft in Kansas City, so it’s time for our latest Chiefs’ mock draft.
My colleague Herbie Teope offered up version 1.0 last week.
The Chiefs, if they don’t trade up or down, will have 10 selections in this year’s draft. Here’s a second look at how things might play out for them:
Round 1 (31st overall): WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
The Chiefs have put themselves in an enviable spot at the end of the first round.
They’ve mostly covered their roster weaknesses — they are the early Vegas favorites to win Super Bowl LVIII, after all — and have made it so they are not pigeonholed into having to take a specific position.
KC could most use an offensive tackle, receiver or edge rusher. But without a desperate need for any of the three, general manager Brett Veach is likely to do what he’s talked about often: Not overthink things and let the talent fall to your spot in the draft.
Things still are not exactly that simple. Kevin Cole has done interesting studies recently about which positions return the best surplus value in the draft at their draft spots, and looking at that data, the Chiefs might be most happy if the tackle of their dreams (Anton Harrison of Oklahoma?) remains an option at the end of the first round.
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Of course, we don’t know if he’ll be there. Interestingly enough, the Chiefs signing Jacksonville free-agent tackle Jawan Taylor could put the Jaguars in a position where they need to fill that position, meaning they could steal Harrison just before the Chiefs with the 24th pick.
If Harrison is out, the temptation could be to go for Flowers, perhaps even if the Chiefs need to make a trade and bump up a few spots. And I can understand why based on the potential fit.
Last year, when filling out receivers on his roster after the Tyreek Hill trade, Veach told me he tried to grab talent while figuring quarterback Patrick Mahomes would make things work.
The 2022 season proved, however, that the Chiefs have a specific way of succeeding. They play to space, throwing behind the first-down marker more effectively than any NFL team, while relying primarily on receivers getting separation in routes.
Flowers, knowing this, would fit in perfectly. He’s an explosive playmaker who has a skillset type — think a lesser Hill — that coach Andy Reid knows how to utilize.
Hometown fans in KC certainly would have a lot to celebrate if they believed they got their future No. 1 wideout on the draft’s opening night.
Round 2 (63rd): DE Derick Hall, Auburn
Not going to overthink this one. At some point, the Chiefs will need another edge rusher, and they met with Hall at the Scouting Combine.
“I loved sitting down with Andy Reid and the guys in that room,” Hall said last month in Indianapolis. “Really just showing what I can do, get up on the board, draw up a lot of different things.”
Hall was considered by some not long ago as a potential first-round pick. His stock has fallen since, but with the Chiefs going receiver first, they’d likely be targeting tackle or edge rusher here. Hall falling this far would be a good value considering his potential pass-rush upside.
Round 3 (95th from Miami): OT Blake Freeland, BYU
Reid will likely know much about Freeland, given he played for his alma mater at BYU.
The 6-foot-8 tackle was plenty productive with the Cougars and is projected to have more ceiling as he puts on additional strength. KC could use immediate depth at swing tackle with the potential for more, and Freeland could provide that in the third round.
Round 4 (122nd, from Miami): RB Tyjae Spears, Tulane
Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco was a revelation for the Chiefs last year. Still, the depth behind him looks pretty thin, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s status up in the air and Jerick McKinnon remaining unsigned.
KC could have some interesting options at this point, but the 5-foot-10, 201-pound Spears could be intriguing for a few reasons. The Chiefs often seem to take guys rated highly on Pro Football Focus’ rankings, and PFF has the Tulane back ranked as the 99th-best prospect while labeling him as “a space player with big-time home-run potential.”
Don’t be surprised if this is the general area where KC looks to solidify its running-back room behind Pacheco.
Round 4 (134th): DT Colby Wooden, Auburn
KC needs some depth at defensive tackle, and this point of the draft is harder to predict because it will rely more on Veach and staff’s scouting chops. Which guys are standing out on film that might be available this late?
We’ll throw a dart here on Wooden, who is PFF’s 117th-ranked prospect and graded out well in college, even if he only weighed 273 at the Combine. He seems like a potential good depth piece for a Chiefs team that could use a boost with their interior pass rush next to Chris Jones.
Round 5 (166th): DE Viliami Fehoko, San Jose State
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo usually prefers taller players with long arms at defensive end, and the 6-foot-4 Fehoko hits both of those criteria. He also has some versatility to play inside and outside, which the Chiefs value on their defensive line.
Fehoko was one of Pro Football Focus’ top-graded edge rushers a season ago, posting a 90.9 overall defensive grade.
Round 6 (178th from Miami): OT Carter Warren, Pittsburgh
The Chiefs loaded up on draft bodies at cornerback a season ago while trying to throw numbers at a roster issue ... and it worked out as well as they could’ve hoped following the progressions of Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson throughout the season.
This year, offensive tackle seems like a spot where Veach and Co. might want to grab extra bodies to see who sticks. Warren profiles as a nice potential lottery ticket, as he performed well last year before a knee injury ended his season.
The medicals will have to clear, and Warren also is old for this draft class at 24. But buying low at this point on PFF’s 149th-ranked player seems like a move the Chiefs would make.
Round 6 (217th, compensatory): RB Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina
Did we mention the Chiefs need running backs?
The 5-foot-9 Mitchell is a home-run threat known for his shiftiness and speed. And Reid, as mentioned earlier, always seems to find an effective role for those types of players.
Mitchell might not get to this point in the draft, but the Chiefs should be interested if he does.
Round 7 (249th): QB Max Duggan, TCU
In the seventh round, teams start to play a little chess, reserving players who might not be available to them as undrafted free agents.
Duggan would fit the mold. Veach talked earlier this offseason about potentially bringing in a QB from the draft to compete with Shane Buechele for the backup job following Chad Henne’s retirement. Veach also said he liked bringing high-IQ players into the QB room who could challenge Mahomes and his thinking with football.
If Duggan isn’t taken at this point, it could make some sense for the Chiefs to take a stab.
Round 7 (250th): FB Hunter Luepke, North Dakota State
The Chiefs lost fullback Michael Burton to the Broncos, and Reid historically has reserved a roster spot for that position.
Luepke, who attended the Senior Bowl, projects as one of the best fullback prospects in the class. He looks like a worthy candidate to fill Burton’s short-yardage/special teams role.