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Why Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler fits Chiefs

Former Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler would be a good first-round pick for the Chiefs if he's still available. AP Photo/Darron Cummings

In case you missed it, I picked Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Vernon Butler for the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of ESPN NFL Nation’s mock draft. But for me, the choice was not as clear as last year, when I hit with my projection on the first-round position (cornerback) but not the player (I had Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest but in the real draft he had already been selected so the Chiefs went with Marcus Peters).

The Chiefs are picking later this year (28th as opposed to 18th last year) but they still have plenty of appealing options. Given the choices I had, I considered for the Chiefs Alabama center Ryan Kelly and Clemson linebacker Kevin Dodd (among others).

The Chiefs may well go with one of those players. But they’ve drafted three interior offensive linemen in the past two drafts, including center Mitch Morse in the second round last year, so picking Kelly would necessitate moving one of the two players to guard. At outside linebacker, the Chiefs already have a crowd.

They could pick someone other than Butler, but he would make a nice pick for them. He’s been underrated publicly and there’s a chance he’ll already have been taken by the time the Chiefs make their first choice.

Since the arrival of John Dorsey as general manager and Andy Reid as coach in 2013, the Chiefs have picked for future need in the first round. They took tackle Eric Fisher thinking they would lose Branden Albert to free agency the next year (they did) in 2013. They took Dee Ford thinking they would lose either Tamba Hali or Justin Houston the next year (they didn’t). They drafted Peters last year thinking they would lose Sean Smith to free agency this year (they did).

Butler might wind up replacing Dontari Poe, whose contract is up at the end of the 2016 season. The Chiefs would like to re-sign Poe but may not be willing to reach his price.

The Chiefs have drafted just one defensive lineman under Dorsey and Reid, and that was Rakeem Nunez-Roches in the sixth round last year. It looks like time for them to find another good one and Butler could well be that guy.