KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More uncertainty surrounds this Kansas City Chiefs draft than any in years. The Chiefs won’t make their first pick until No. 28, the lowest since John Dorsey arrived as general manager in 2013 or any Kansas City draft since 2004.
But here are some things we know, or think we know, about the Chiefs and their first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft:
The Chiefs haven’t drafted for immediate need: Cornerback is the position in which the Chiefs could use the most immediate help, but that doesn’t mean they will go that way with their first pick, or any pick. In 2013, Dorsey’s first Kansas City draft, the Chiefs picked tackle Eric Fisher in the first round even though they already had an accomplished left tackle in Branden Albert. Two years ago, the Chiefs had two Pro Bowl, pass-rushing outside linebackers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. They drafted a pass-rushing outside linebacker, Dee Ford, in the first round. Even cornerback Marcus Peters, their first-round pick last year, wasn’t a need selection, though he wound up starting the entire season.
The Chiefs have drafted for future need, or at least what they thought would be future need: The Chiefs stood to lose significant players at tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback in each of the years after they drafted at those positions in the first round. Albert left as a free agent a year after Fisher was drafted. Houston was a potential free agent the year after Ford was drafted, but the Chiefs retained him as the franchise player and eventually signed him to a long-term deal. The Chiefs lost cornerback Sean Smith as a free agent this year, a year after they drafted Peters. Positions of need next year could be defensive line, where Dontari Poe is in the final season of his contract; offensive tackle, where Fisher is in the final year of his deal; and inside linebacker, where Derrick Johnson turns 34 in November.
Think premium positions: The four so-called premium positions in the NFL are quarterback, left tackle, pass-rusher and cornerback. It’s no coincidence Dorsey’s three first-round picks have played one of these spots. Cornerback would also align with an immediate need.
Lots of defensive linemen: This draft is deep with players at these positions, another reason a lineman makes sense for the Chiefs this year.
Think defense in general: The Chiefs were able to retain some of their key defensive players, but others (Smith, safeties Tyvon Branch and Husain Abdullah and lineman Mike DeVito) are gone. The most significant additions in free agency, tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wide receiver Rod Streater, are offensive players. So defense makes more sense for the Chiefs.
Think moving down, not up: Because they lost their third-round pick as part of the penalty for tampering last year with prospective wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the Chiefs’ ability to move up in a given round to take a favored player is reduced. If anything, the Chiefs would be better candidates to move down or even out of the first round to acquire one or more additional picks. As things stand, the Chiefs have seven picks, with none in the third, but an extra in the fifth. The other fifth-rounder was acquired from Seattle in last year’s trade that sent safety Kelcie McCray to the Seahawks.