KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For anyone who needs convincing this year’s draft is an important one for the Kansas City Chiefs, check out Matt Williamson’s interesting look ranking the NFL teams based on the quality of their players who were 25 and under as of Jan. 1. ESPN Insider access is required.
The Chiefs are only 19th in that category, according to Williamson. He lists the five most important Chiefs in that category as linebacker Justin Houston, nose tackle Dontari Poe, tight end Travis Kelce, linebacker Dee Ford and running back Knile Davis. He also lists other players of note in that category: defensive lineman Allen Bailey, center Rodney Hudson, tackle Eric Fisher, cornerback Phillip Gaines, wide receiver Albert Wilson and slot receiver/kick returner De'Anthony Thomas.
So the Chiefs have some work to do in the draft this year in order to catch up with the 18 teams ranked ahead of them. They should be able to cover some ground. Coach Andy Reid has said the Chiefs expect four or more compensatory draft picks.
Having a lot of good, young players is important to any team. Young means cheap, relatively speaking. In the case of the Chiefs, Bailey during the season signed a contract extension while Houston and Hudson have expiring contracts and are potential unrestricted free agents.
Their other players listed are working under the contracts they signed as rookies.
The Chiefs might be higher in the rankings if not for a couple of factors. First, they whiffed on their first-round draft choice in 2011. Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin is still only 25 and, had he worked out as the Chiefs hoped, he would be their No. 1 player at the position by now and among their top five most important young players.
Baldwin failed spectacularly and was traded two summers ago to the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t fare any better in San Francisco and has since been released by the 49ers.
They also sent two second-round draft picks to the 49ers two years ago for quarterback Alex Smith. Those are two potential good, young players who are with another team and not the Chiefs. They haven’t had a pick in the second round since taking offensive lineman Jeff Allen from Illinois in 2012.
Though the Chiefs are 19th in the overall ranking, they’re still No. 2 among AFC West teams in this category. Williamson has the Denver Broncos No. 6, the San Diego Chargers No. 24 and the Oakland Raiders No. 27.