Part Three: This will be a three-part column where I will look at the Chiefs and the phases of the Chiefs offseason. I will look at internal moves the team can make, how they should go about free agency, as well as the NFL Draft.
The 2020 Chiefs were so close, yet so far away from reaching the ultimate prize. Here is why this offseason is the most important one yet.
This will be the third and final part of the three-week series, in which I have examined why this upcoming offseason will be the most important in Kansas City Chiefs history. In part one I looked at internal roster moves the Chiefs can make, in part two I looked at free agents the Chiefs could look to acquire, and in this third and final part I will take a look at the NFL Draft.
This article is going to be more of a discussion on the philosophy I think the Chiefs should take in the draft, and not so much of a mock draft article. There will be plenty of time for those later down the line.
This year’s draft is loaded at three positions, quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line. The Chiefs are set at quarterback for the next decade and a half, but the other two positions are deep, and at pick number 31 in the first round it would seem the Chiefs should be able to get a good player that can help the team. Does this mean the Chiefs should draft for need, or should they go with the best player available?
These are the questions that will lie on the shoulders of General Manager Brett Veach here soon. Free agency is a nice time to add depth or weapons, but the draft is where teams are built, and where the blueprint of champions are formed. Of the Chiefs All-Pros the past two seasons, only two player’s were not drafted by the Chiefs which was safety Tyrann Mathieu, and tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones, and L’Jarius Sneed are all products of the draft.
Not every draft is the same, which can make finding draft patterns in teams more difficult to gauge, especially if a team hasn’t had many first-round picks the last few seasons, or has been drafting near the back. This is where the Chiefs find themselves at yet again sitting at pick 31. Last year they flipped the last pick of the first round for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a position the Chiefs needed to upgrade, and a player that was well-liked across the board.
This year it seems the Chiefs NEED offensive linemen, so will they go back to the same approach and pick up good linemen? Could we see them add another weapon for Patrick Mahomes, by adding a wideout? A part of the best part of having a deep draft class is the Chiefs will be able to find talent still in the middle to late rounds of the draft, and guys that could come in and be impact players right away. This also allows the Chiefs to take the best payer they deem available early on.
Stockpiling talent at a position is one way to create depth, as well as create dominating units. If the Chiefs deem the best player available to them in the draft is a linebacker, then they should take the linebacker. If they think they think the best player available to them is safety then they should take a safety. If it happens the best player in the draft is an offensive tackle or a wide receiver then they should take that player. As we have seen over the past few seasons needs can be filled easier than people think.
This draft I would also expect the Chiefs to rummage through the middle of the draft to find gems and contributors much like they have the past few seasons to find the diamonds in the rough. The early round is where teams draft their stars, but the meat and potatoes of rosters are taken in the mid-rounds.
This is where Brett Veach has gone to work the past few seasons to find role players like Derrick Nnadi, Nick Allegretti, Rashad Fenton, and Mike Danna. It is also where the team found current stars Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and budding star L’Jarius Sneed. Just because the day one prospects will get all the headlines leading up to draft day doesn’t mean the team won’t be able to find steady contributors and potential elite-level players.
The draft can make or break the future of a team, and this is why to me this is the most crucial phase of the NFL offseason. If a team can’t consistently draft, then they have no shot to win for a prolonged period of time, and certainly don’t have a shot at winning Super Bowls. This is why in this crucial offseason the draft is the most crucial.
This team’s stars will not be around forever, and as I mentioned in the first part of this series complacency kills teams in the NFL. This offseason isn’t the most crucial because the Chiefs lost the Super Bowl, losing happens in sports, sometimes a team just isn’t meant to win. This is the most crucial offseason in Chiefs history because it is the next offseason.
Much like this upcoming season will be the most important because it’s the next one. One day the Chiefs will blink and Patrick Mahomes will be gone, and then they will have to ask themselves if they did everything they could to help him continue to take the team to new heights they had never reached before. Something tells me they will.