KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We've had a little time to let the nine-player Kansas City Chiefs draft marinate. Here are four of my takeaways from what the Chiefs accomplished over the weekend.
If Marcus Peters (first round) and Steven Nelson (third) become as good as the Chiefs think they will, Kansas City is well-stocked at cornerback for the foreseeable future. The contracts of Sean Smith and Jamell Fleming expire at the end of this season and both players would become unrestricted free agents. Smith might be prohibitively expensive for the Chiefs to re-sign. By drafting two corners in the first three rounds, the Chiefs apparently agree. Fleming played well enough last year that if he repeats the effort this season, the Chiefs should make an effort to re-sign him. Even if they both leave, Peters and Nelson would be under contract through at least 2018. Phillip Gaines, the Chiefs’ third-round draft pick last year is signed through 2017. So much the better for the Chiefs if Marcus Cooper rebounds from his dismal last 1½ seasons. He’s signed through 2016.
He hasn’t had the chance to practice or even meet with an assistant coach but I’m expecting second-round draft choice Mitch Morse of Missouri to be the starting center when the Chiefs begin the regular season. The Chiefs appear genuinely excited about the prospects, both long- and short-term, for Morse. His progress will be interesting to track through offseason practice, training camp and the preseason. Morse started just one season at center for Missouri before being moved to tackle.
Enjoy Derrick Johnson while you can. The Chiefs drafted one inside linebacker in the previous nine drafts in large part because of Johnson’s looming presence. This year, they drafted two, Georgia’s Ramik Wilson in the fourth round and Oregon State’s D.J. Alexander in the fifth. Johnson will turn 33 this year and he’s in the final season of his contract. Here’s hoping Johnson and the Chiefs can agree on a new deal if he plays as well this year as has since he arrived as a first-round draft pick from Texas in 2005. But the Chiefs are clearly preparing for life without Johnson beyond 2015.
The Chiefs drafted two wide receivers, Georgia’s Chris Conley in the third round and Northern Illinois' Da'Ron Brown in the seventh. They obviously weren’t as concerned about their welfare at wide receiver as many of their fans. The Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin to be their No. 1 receiver and obviously have huge expectations for him. The Chiefs are also hopeful that one of two younger receivers, Albert Wilson and Da'Rick Rogers, can be a productive partner to Maclin. Wilson, an undrafted rookie last year, came on toward the end of last season. Rogers has been troubled off the field but is talented enough that he could fill that role.