With the draft inching closer and closer, should the Chiefs draft for team needs or best available?
Hello again everyone and welcome to another week of the ArrowChop! This week is a bit different in format, but usually, this is the column where we look at the positives/negatives of a certain Chiefs/NFL issue and look at both sides of the aisle. Then you, the readers, will come to your conclusions after I lay out the case. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we breakdown this week’s hot topic.
The 2021 NFL Draft is now just a few weeks away with teams urging to pick the next top stars in their respective positions. For the Chiefs, they must gather some of the largest team needs in this draft that include offensive lineman, cornerbacks, and edge rushers. There are a lot of great prospects that can fill the holes within the Chiefs roster, but some question fans/analysts if that’s the route they should take.
Some suggest that the Chiefs’ front office should draft for whatever player is the best available at 31st and any other pick they may have. This debate on whether on what “side” teams should draft one has been an argument for quite a while as it varies on the year and team. With that said, which route should the Chiefs take in this year’s draft? Let’s break down both sides of the aisle to find out:
If you’d like to look at the philosophies of this debate, click here to read an intriguing piece about the subject.
The Chiefs should draft for the best available
Firstly, in a simple aspect, every team needs talented players to win, and what better way to find talent than by drafting the best available on the board. Of course, if the next best player is a QB, don’t draft him, but for any other position (except TE, maybe RB, and obviously), it’s fair game. If the best available is a receiver, then it gives Mahomes another weapon to utilize. If it’s an offensive lineman, then it fills a key team needs and will give more time to Mahomes in the pocket this season, and so forth for all other positions on the field.
Secondly, if the Chiefs drafted for team needs, they’d miss out on these players for just short-term fixes. They may draft a player only to see that they may never see a down of football in their time with them. Let’s use the defensive end spot as an example; in whatever round they choose to pick one, if someone on the practice squad or a UDFA DE comes up and plays at a starter level, then that need is immediately terminated and the player drafted will barely see the field unless something happens. Also, you’d ignore star talents that could’ve benefitted the team in the long run.
Finally, a point that connects to this is that the needs will never stay the same; one early retirement or one atrocious injury could set back the Chiefs’ assessment for what is needed to go into next season. As Marc Ryan stated, “your needs today will not be the same as your needs tomorrow”. So, one position that is locked down now may not be locked down next year. Drafting for best available put those quarrels away, varying on position.
The Chiefs should draft for their team needs
Firstly, drafting for team needs will fill in the depth chart. No matter what, the Chiefs have to fill the roster of 53 players, with, of course, moving parts within the practice squad. By drafting by team needs, the Chiefs can fill in the gaps they have. One key example of this would be the offensive line, as it’s a destined need for the Chiefs; they must protect their 500 million dollar man with the best they can get, and by drafting an o-lineman in the first, they can solidify that need.
Secondly, to boil over into this point, this could also save some cap space for future endeavors. Rookies are usually cheaper than veterans, that’s common knowledge no matter the profession; by filling some needs with rookies, they can splurge on other aspects in the free-agent market, which can solidify their other needs as well.
Finally, some believe it’s better to draft the need to improve the collective team in certain areas than to focus on drafting the next HOFer. Just because they’re the best talent on the board doesn’t mean that talent will shift to the NFL; it has happened numerous times in the NFL. Why take the best available player when a team can draft someone who fits with the scheme of said team, and fill the hole in the depth? Sometimes it’s better to improve the collective than to focus on the next big star.