Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. In this article, the Kansas City Chiefs are the focus.
The Chiefs have the 27th overall pick in the draft this year. They have made the playoffs the past two seasons and are a contender, but they need that final piece to push them over the hump. In a draft loaded with talent, the Chiefs have a good chance to address their top needs and solidify their contender status.
Kansas City Chiefs 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
At cornerback, the Chiefs have star Marcus Peters and a couple question marks. One of the team’s biggest issues last year was whoever played opposite Peters consistently getting burned. This is a team with plenty of defensive talent, but they badly need cornerback depth. If they solidified their other outside corner spot, there is potential for this secondary to be nothing short of elite.
Luckily for the Chiefs, this draft is ridiculously loaded at the corner position. Some prime options for the Chiefs at 27 and beyond include Adoree Jackson, Fabian Moreau, Cameron Sutton, Tre’Davious White, Chidobe Awuzie, and perhaps Florida’s Quincy Wilson or Teez Tabor. Any of these players have the potential to develop into a solid complement to Marcus Peters and could form a deadly trio with him and Eric Berry.
Stalwart and high level player Derrick Johnson is 34 years old and coming off of an Achilles injury. At his age, he may never come back to form and retirement looms inevitably on the horizon. The Chiefs desperately need to draft his heir so that they can be prepared when one of their most important pieces does hang up his cleats. It can’t be just any player that takes this spot, though. It has to be a versatile player who can drop into coverage effectively, navigate sideline to sideline to bring down the ball carrier, and consistently stop the run. Few guys can do all that at a high level every single play.
A couple guys in this draft class have a chance to fill this spot. Perhaps the best guy that fits this bill is Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham, who should be readily available at pick 27. Cunningham is the versatile presence the Chiefs need at linebacker and could have a role from day one. Alabama’s Reuben Foster could be an option as well, though he has character concerns and questionable coverage ability. The talent, however, is undeniable. Other likely options include Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan or Lindenwood’s Connor Harris.
Andy Reid‘s offense is one of few left in today’s NFL that thrives on a strong ground game. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, running back has become a need since former star running back Jamaal Charles ultimately lost his season to injury and was then released. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have filled in admirably to a degree, but they lack the star power and high level play this offense needs out of a running back.
Who could come in and assume backfield duties for the Chiefs? Luckily many guys in this draft class. Top end talents like Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Samaje Perine could all be available in the first two rounds. Any of these guys could be plugged in on day one as the starting back and provide a massive upgrade. Beyond the first couple rounds, backs like James Conner, Brian Hill, and Marlon Mack could all be fits in the Chiefs offense.
It is the popular opinion of the Chiefs fanbase that Alex Smith will not bring the team a Super Bowl. Judging by all the quarterbacks the organization has met with pre-draft, they agree. The organization has met with a whopping 11 quarterbacks, far more players than they have in any other position. All signs point to the Chiefs drafting a quarterback early, perhaps even round one. First round targets could include Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, or Deshone Kizer. It seems almost a sure-fire thing the Chiefs take a quarterback at some point in the draft. Other prospects they’ve met with who would be around later on are Davis Webb, Brad Kaaya, Josh Dobbs, and Nathan Peterman.