The Kansas City Chiefs have drafted 38 players over the past five years, or since Andy Reid arrived as their head coach in 2013. They invested those resources for the most part equally between offensive and defensive players, with 20 playing on offense and 18 on defense.
They went right down the middle over the first three rounds, with seven offensive and seven defensive players.
The results varied to a staggering degree. The Chiefs have found most of their better offensive players (Travis Kelce, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitch Morse, Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes II and Kareem Hunt) in those drafts. The Chiefs have drafted so well on offense that only two of their projected starters on that side of the ball, tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, have arrived via free agency.
On defense, Kansas City’s best players came from long-ago drafts: Eric Berry in 2010 and Justin Houston the following year. The Chiefs will look to some more recently drafted defensive players like Chris Jones, Dee Ford and Steven Nelson to be key contributors this season.
Jones might be on the verge of becoming a top defensive lineman. But Ford and Nelson, who have both played at least three NFL seasons, are still trying to establish themselves as consistent producers. The Chiefs have some other young, drafted defensive players who could still develop, Tanoh Kpassagnon in particular.
Unless they get significant and immediate defensive help from this year's NFL draft -- a long shot since they don’t have a first-round pick -- the Chiefs again in 2018 will go only as far as their offense can carry them. This draft imbalance is one reason why.
The Chiefs are paying for their misjudgment on the character of Marcus Peters and their inability to fit him into their structure. They’re paying for other defensive draft failures like Phillip Gaines, KeiVarae Russell, Ramik Wilson and Nico Johnson.
This is another reason this year’s draft needs to be a defense-focused one for the Chiefs. They need to come away with at least one player on all three levels. In the case of their secondary, they need even more.
But they can’t just throw numbers at the problem. They need to find the results they always seem to get when they draft offensive players.