Every week throughout the 2021 NFL season, we’re going to — simply being sincere right here — overreact to what we’ve seen on the sector for a special NFL workforce and start projecting NFL draft prospects at positions of regarding want.
Think of it as a mini one-workforce mock draft, with early (Rounds 1-2), center (Rounds 3-4) and late (Rounds 5-7) prospects at every workforce’s respective place of concern.
This week’s NFL draft makeover is for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs have misplaced thee video games of their first 5 outings in 2021. With Patrick Mahomes as their beginning quarterback, the workforce’s third loss had usually taken so much longer to reach — in Week 16 in 2018, in Week 8 in 2019 and within the Super Bowl final season.
It has been an atypically robust begin for the workforce, even when their losses got here to a few present division leaders. Mahomes stays on tempo to throw for greater than 5,000 yards and 54 touchdowns, so he is not likely the difficulty.
The drawback currently has been that Mahomes has been requested to cowl up the Chiefs’ different shortcomings. Some video games he can, others it’s simply too massive an ask.
And under no circumstances are we writing off a workforce that may flip the swap to nuclear mode at a second’s discover. Some may argue they continue to be the workforce to beat within the AFC till additional discover, even after the Buffalo Bills’ tide-shifting victory at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
But if the Chiefs do not restore their protection for the long run, in addition to insulate Mahomes higher, it’s additionally not arduous to see the workforce slip right into a put up-championship lull, a lot the best way that nice quarterbacks resembling Brett Favre, Drew Brees and Troy Aikman (and others) fell into for related causes.
The Chiefs have most of their draft capital in 2022 after making some trades previous to the 2021 NFL draft. Next spring they’re going to have most of their very own unique alternatives, swapping out their fifth-rounder for Baltimore’s sixth-spherical decide (through the Orlando Brown commerce) and a sixth for a seventh-rounder (Mike Hughes commerce). If they obtain a compensatory decide, it seemingly shall be a seventh-rounder.
So how can the Chiefs maintain their championship window open? One draft class alone may not be capable to do it, however we predict it truly could possibly be the beginning of an necessary refortification interval.
Ohio State EDGE Zach Harrison
The Chiefs have lacked a second strain participant up entrance. Chris Jones has been requested to play extra exterior, and it has diminished his footprint on video games. The struggles of Frank Clark since he acquired an enormous payday have been effectively-documented.
There merely aren’t sufficient candidates on the roster to switch Clark totally now. The Chiefs have drafted solely two Day 3 EDGE gamers (Joshua Kaindoh, Round 4, 2021; Mike Danna, Round 5, 2020) since taking Dee Ford in Round 1 in 2014. Alex Okafor, a alternative-stage edge rusher who turns 31 quickly, has acquired pretty strong snaps this season.
Hence the necessity for brand spanking new blood right here. And in contrast to the previous few years, it seems to be an excellent draft class to have a necessity on the sting. Depending on the place the Chiefs finally find yourself choosing in Round 1, they may have their alternative of some choices.
If you have a look at the Chiefs’ protection, it’s simple to see they want mass, size and excessive-stage athleticism of their edge defenders. Harrison checks all these packing containers off at 6-foot-6, 265 kilos and with the athletic burst of a participant 20 to 30 kilos lighter.
Has he set the faculty soccer world on hearth? Not but. But Harrison was an elite excessive-faculty recruit who has performed at a decent stage for the Buckeyes the previous two-plus seasons, typically producing a excessive price of pressures and hits, even his if sack whole (7.5 in 26 profession video games) and disruptions (one compelled fumble, three passes defended) are average at finest up to now.
Still, a workforce just like the Chiefs could be sensible to guess on Harrison’s traits. Even if his manufacturing would not spike down the stretch, he might vault increased than wherever the Chiefs decide if he blows up the NFL scouting mix, as anticipated. Some scouts consider Harrison will run within the excessive 4.5-second vary within the 40-yard sprint and carry out very effectively within the leaping drills.
Maryland WR Dontay Demus Jr.
Entering the season, Demus earned principally third- and fourth-spherical grades from NFL scouts. He was the Terrapins’ finest offensive weapon the previous few seasons and had been off to a terrific begin in 2021, catching 4 or extra passes in each sport and averaging 18.1 yards per catch at 6-foot-3 and 217 kilos, all whereas incomes further consideration because the one talent-place participant opponents felt they wanted to cease towards Maryland.
That all modified two weeks in the past when Demus suffered a season-ending knee harm within the loss to Iowa. It was a crushing blow for participant and program alike.
Demus is a peak-weight-velocity prospect who can stretch the sector vertically. The Chiefs have been in search of such a massive-framed, clear-shifting goal for a while now. They introduced in Josh Gordon as a dart throw and nonetheless have Demarcus Robinson, however including a receiver on this mould looks like a precedence.
When Demus was being carted off the sector following his harm, he mouthed the phrases “I’ll be again” to his teammates. It’s potential he looks like there’s unfinished enterprise. But we additionally would not blame him for declaring early if he felt just like the harm and rehab would not set again his capacity to work out for NFL groups throughout the subsequent draft cycle.
If he does enter the 2022 class, Demus might nonetheless be out there within the center rounds due to the harm. It may scare off different groups, however the cube-rolling Chiefs usually will guess on elite traits and sure would not be scared off by his medical limitations.
West Florida S D’Anthony Bell
The Chiefs have proven an affinity for taking gambles on FBS-stage prospects (and decrease), resembling Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, James O’Shaughnessy, Tyreek Hill (who spent a yr at West Alabama after being dismissed from Oklahoma State), Ukeme Eligwe and Tremon Smith. They’ve had a fairly respectable hit price on such a projection decide.
Bell matches that mould. The redshirt senior has taken a circuitous route thus far, committing to Maryland (and leaving earlier than taking a snap), spending a yr at Albany State in 2015, transferring to Iowa Community College, adopted by a yr off, a season at Coffeyville CC after which touchdown with the D2 Argonauts in 2019.
Settling down there, Bell has established himself as probably the greatest D2 prospects within the nation. He’s an enormous hitter at a shade underneath 6-1 and 210 kilos, and scouts estimate he can run within the excessive 4.4s. Bell has the explosive athletic capacity and manufacturing (three INTs, 15 PBUs, 4 fumble recoveries) to attract NFL scouting consideration, even when he is an older prospect.
Bell led UWF’s protection to the D2 title in 2019, amassing two cross breakups and one fumble restoration within the title sport. This season, the Argos are the unquestioned No. 1 ranked workforce on the D2 stage with Bell main the best way on protection.
Although Bell may not fairly get the eye that second-rounders Kyle Dugger and Jeremy Chinn acquired two years in the past, he is a Senior Bowl candidate whose postseason exercises might put him very a lot within the Day 3 image.
The Chiefs really want to search out gamers at security, a place the place their depth and expertise have been stretched nearly so far as they will go.