With the 2023 Draft taking place in Kansas City, many thought the Chiefs were going to make multiple exciting moves. Instead, the Chiefs made solid and safe moves to get some boring or non-flashy players, according to fans. But the Chiefs addressed their biggest needs in the draft, but were they valuable where they were selected?
Fans can be fickle, and while not every prospect selected was at the top of everyone’s board, this draft class, in particular, left a significant portion of Chiefs Kingdom dissatisfied.
Kansas City drafted an edge-rusher, wide receiver, and offensive tackle, which were all needs, in the first 100 picks of the draft. Yet the “value” of these picks is being questioned, and Mahomes’ and Veach’s “prospect analysis” is being doubted. Other draft classes within our division are being touted as “some of the best in draft history” (no, not just from Raider Cody). “It’s a KC draft disaster!!!” Everyone needs to slow down, take a deep breath, and look at what the drafted players bring to the table. Let’s get away from the hyperbole-driven mania for just a second and take an objective look at the new guys donning the red and gold.
Draft Prospect “Value”
Felix Anudike-Uzomah (DE | 1st)
I’m convinced that when the quote “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” was uttered, they were speaking about NFL draft prospects. The “value” of a pick is completely dependent on the prospect themselves.
For example, Nolan Smith (6’2″ 238 lbs) is the perfect pass rusher for the Philadelphia Eagles. His explosiveness, as well as the bend he provides as a stand-up edge, perfectly fits their 4-3/3-4 hybrid scheme. Philly probably had him as a top 5 player in the draft this year (outside of QBs), however, the Chiefs probably didn’t have him in their top 30. Why?
Because his lack of strength in the run game does not fit Spags’ scheme. On the flip side, FAU’s ability to set the edge, as well as provide bend and strength from a pass rush perspective, is EXTREMELY important to the integrity of the defensive line. In reality, FAU was probably a top 3 DE on Veach’s board, after which was a huge drop-off.
Rashee Rice (WR | 2nd)
Now I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this pick after the card was turned in, but it’s clear that the Chiefs value his size and quickness over the other players that were available. Not only that, but an endorsement from Patrick Mahomes doesn’t hurt anything either.
The big question is, would he have been available at pick 63 or would a player of similar caliber be there instead? I’ll answer that question with another question, how many X WRs were still on the board when the Chiefs traded up? Tank Dell, Marvin Mims, Jaylin Hyatt, and Josh Downs were talented and available, but cannot play the X reliably. The only other player that could bring the same set of skills to the table was Cedric Tillman. A 23 year old super senior with about half of his potential.
With all of the picks the Chiefs had available (and a lack of cap/roster space to fit all of them), are we really that mad that they went up and grabbed a guy they thought highly of?
Wanya Morris (OT | 3rd)
Wanya Morris is a versatile and athletic (sensing a pattern) offensive talent that the Chiefs traded up for. Now, is he a recognizable name to the Twitter GMs running draft sim after draft sim? Probably not. Is he a talented, (extremely) long-armed (like 35-inch arms) tackle that has connections to KC as he was a college teammate with OG Trey Smith, and is worthy of a third-round pick? Absolutely.
Are we really doubting Andy Reid and Andy Heck right now? Andy Reid’s resume speaks for itself, and all Andy Heck has done is turn a former OG in Andrew Wylie, and a 6th-round pick in Trey Smith, into above-average players, and in the case of Trey Smith, an anchor to the offensive line.
Veach & Mahomes’ “Less Than Accurate” Prospect Evaluation
After CEH’s possibly disastrous, described by some, and injury-ridden tenure with the Chiefs, some fans are ready to write off the endorsement of our Two-Time MVP & Superbowl-Winning QB, but let’s not forget the other person that not only gave their blessing but also refused to use him in the role he was most comfortable in. Andy Reid.
Calling Edwards-Helaire the next Brian Westbrook, Andy Reid seemed more than happy that the Chiefs called CEH’s name in the first round of the 2020 draft. All this is not to disparage the upper management of our beloved Kansas City Chiefs, it’s only to demonstrate how an endorsement from our Superstar QB, Hall of Fame Coach, and great General Manager is not a sign that a player will or won’t succeed. Sometimes teams just miss on a player.
Lastly, some are vexed by the value of the Chiefs’ draft compared to others in their division. While some of the prospects are clearly better than others, it’s not a gap that can’t be explained by either the difference in pick value or by the uncertainty surrounding the prospects. Let’s take a look at the different draft classes from our divisional rivals. Keep in mind we will only be looking at the first 3 rounds because I haven’t had enough time to go deep into the later-round picks of the draft.
Las Vegas Raiders
Tyree Wilson (1:7) vs Felix Anudike-Uzomah (1:31)
Pick Value Comparison- 1500 LVR | 600 KC = +900 LVR
Prospect Uncertainty- Low | Medium
Michael Mayer (2:35) vs Rashee Rice (2:55)
Pick Value Comparison- 550 LVR | 350 KC = +200 LVR
Prospect Uncertainty- Low | High
Tre Tucker (3:100) vs Wanya Morris (3:92)
Pick Value Comparison- 100 LVR | 132 KC = + 32 KC
Prospect Uncertainty- High | Medium High
Total Pick Value Difference = +1068 LVR
Draft Winner: LVR
Marvin Mims (2:63) vs Felix Anudike-Uzomah (1:31)
Pick Value Comparison- 276 DEN | 600 KC = +324 KC
Prospect Uncertainty- Very High | Medium
Drew Sanders (3:65) vs Rashee Rice (2:55)
Pick Value Comparison- 255 DEN | 350 KC = +95 KC
Prospect Uncertainty- Medium | High
Riley Moss (3:83) vs Wanya Morris (3:92)
Pick Value Comparison- 175 DEN | 132 KC = +43 DEN
Prospect Uncertainty- High | Medium High
Total Pick Value Difference= +376 KC
Draft Winner: KC
Las Angeles Chargers
Quentin Johnston (1:21) vs Felix Anudike-Uzomah (1:31)
Pick Value Comparison- 800 LAC | 600 KC = +200 LAC
Prospect Uncertainty- Medium High | Medium
Tuli Tuipulotu (2:54) vs Rashee Rice (2:55)
Pick Value Comparison- 360 LAC | 350 KC = +10 LAC
Prospect Uncertainty- Medium High | High
Daiyan Henley (3:85) vs Wanya Morris (3:92)
Pick Value Comparison- 165 LAC | 132 KC = +33 LAC
Prospect Uncertainty- Low | Medium High
Total Pick Value Difference= +243 LAC
Draft Winner: KC
Believe in Veach
I understand that some of the picks were not who you would have chosen (believe me I do) but let’s not pretend like Veach hasn’t hit it out of the park in the last two drafts alone; Nick Bolton, Creed Humphrey, Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis, Jaylen Watson, Isiah Pacheco, and Trey Smith were all starters or in the Super Bowl this last season.
Truly, how many of us had Pacheco on our board in the last draft? How about Jaylen Watson? CEH was a bust I 100% agree, but let’s not let one or two bad selections diminish how we view one of the best GMs in football.
And finally, let’s not chastise our players before they even hit the field, if you disagreed with a pick, leave it in the past. If they wear the Red & Gold lift them up, and encourage them to be the best players they can be. To quote THE sports movie of my childhood Coach Carter, “You said we’re a team. If one person struggles we all struggle. If one player triumphs we all triumph, right?”.
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