We’re a week removed from the 2021 NFL Draft. Brett Veach and the scouting department put in some amazing work evaluating and selecting. I take time to discuss who may have the best rookie season from this year’s class.
Brett Veach and company went to work last week and put together what, in my opinion, the best draft of his career. He was able to take the best player available at “so-called” positions of need early. Then draft for depth and development later on. There were no real reaches or head-scratchers. This was a solid draft and indicative of the good things to come in the foreseeable future of the Chiefs organization.
Nick Bolton was the best inside linebacker in the SEC the last two seasons, that speaks volumes to me. He is undersized but that isn’t the biggest knock in the world in today’s NFL. He is hard-nosed and a thumper and will fit in Spags system quite well.
Creed Humphrey is not going to excite the casual fan, a former freshman All-American and All-Big 12 center that will compete for a job from day one in Kansas City. Andy Reid loves this kid, who can snap with both hands, and that will be the main guy snapping the ball to Patrick Mahomes for the next four seasons. He never allowed a sack in nearly 2,500 snaps at Oklahoma.
Joshua Kaindoh is an athletic monster. A top recruit in the 2017 recruiting cycle that could never piece it together at Florida State. At 6’6 260 his measurables should have put him in early-round discussions but the production never seemed to materialize outside of glimpses. Looks to be another Veach reclamation project.
Cornell Powell, the late bloomer, dropped to the fifth round because he’s 23 years old and only had one year of real production. The tape doesn’t lie, he plays larger than his 6’0 frame and can step in from day one and be a contributor for this team both as a receiver and on special teams.
Trey Smith may end up being the steal of this draft. A five-star recruit in 2017 that was a two-time All-SEC lineman and second-team All American. He falls to the sixth round because of some medical concerns. The Chiefs vetted this out and believe he is ready to have a productive career. I believe he can compete for the right guard slot immediately.
The profiles above are filled with tons of accolades and potential but the player I feel could step in immediately is tight end Noah Gray. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t real excited when the Chiefs traded up 13 slots to draft him, but I was happy the trade didn’t cost any draft picks and they drafted a definite position of need in my opinion.
There were other tight ends I had on my radar that were available with other picks, most notably Brevin Jordan, who ended up going to Houston early in the fifth round. Yet after watching the film, seeing his movement, and just hearing what the scouting department sees in Gray. There is plenty to be excited about. Humphrey will start right away, but I think he will be overshadowed by Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney. I feel the most confident Gray will have the most tangible success of any Chiefs rookie.
The production numbers at Duke don’t jump off the page, 105 receptions, 948 yards, eight touchdowns in four seasons in Durham. He did have at least one reception in 26 straight games to finish his career. What I like the most is his ability to get open in traffic, something that mimics Travis Kelce. He is extremely versatile, can line up in the slot, hands down on the line, or in the backfield as a full back.
He is also a very good special teams contributor, which should make Dave Toub extremely excited. He needs some grooming in the blocking game, though is effective at being in the way in run protection. He’s sure-handed and provides a different type of athlete than any of the other TE2 options in Kansas City. His versatility and skill set have me more excited than any other options on the other side of Travis Kelce since the departure of Demetrius Harris.
I don’t expect Noah Gray to change the tight end position. Though I do expect Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy to move him around use him in multiple roles. When I watch him I’m reminded of a more inline Kyle Juszczyk and that’s the kind of production I’m looking for out of our second tight end. I can absolutely see 40 catches for 500 yards and 6 touchdowns. I may be a little overly optimistic but I’m enthralled by this fifth-rounder for the Chiefs.