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Kansas City Chiefs NFL Draft recap and grading

The 2020 NFL Draft has passed and the Chiefs have come away with new talent on both sides of the ball to help the team “Run It Back” and win back-to-back Super Bowls next year in Tampa.

Here is the recap, grading, and reactions to each of the Chiefs picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Round 1 (Pick No. 32) Selection: Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Running Back

With their first pick in the draft to close out Thursday night, the Chiefs selected RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU. In 2019 with the National Champions, Helaire rushed for 1,414 rushing yards, 453 receiving yards on 55 receptions, and capped it all of with 17 total touchdowns.

Helaire is a hard runner with speed, elusiveness, and agility. He also is a great pass-catching back and is going to fit right in with the offense. Helaire’s presence in passing situations supercharges the Chiefs matchup-nightmare offense even more. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and now Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an unstoppable core on the offensive side of the ball.

The Chiefs already have one of the league’s best offenses and added another valuable weapon for Mahomes. The Chiefs offense is even more unstoppable with the selection of CEH. Good luck to any defense trying to stop the Chiefs offense as it will be one of the league’s best, if not the best.

Personally, I love the pick. When you have a franchise star in Mahomes, you want to continually surround him with weapons and a strong arsenal. The Chiefs have done that and it is truly exciting to think about the potential with this offense.

When Brett Veach talked about drafting for the future, Helaire fits the bill. The entire organization believes that he is the next franchise running back and I believe he can be as well. Helaire reminds me a lot of Kareem Hunt in the way that Reid plans to use him.

The last time the Chiefs drafted a RB in the first round, they chose Larry Johnson. He is the franchise-leader in carries. I am so excited to see CEH with the Chiefs and alongside Mahomes in the backfield.

First Round Grade: A

Round 2 (Pick No. 63) Selection: Willie Gay Jr.- Linebacker

With their second round pick, the Chiefs selected LB Willie Gay Jr. out of Mississippi State. At the combine, Gay ran a 4.46 40 -yard dash, which was the second-fastest among LBs.

According to Pro Football Focus, Gay has the highest career coverage grade among all LBs in the draft and has an overall 93.9 coverage grade since 2017, which also ranks first in the draft class. He also possesses extreme athleticism and instincts that will translate well to the NFL.

The defense needed an every-down LB with skills to drop in coverage and get after the QB. Gay can play all three LB positions and easily projects as an immediate impact player in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. 

However, he brings some red flags from college, which caused him to miss playing time, but the Chiefs did their due diligence on his background and were comfortable enough to draft him. In addition, the team is confident the locker room culture among the defense, led by All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, will aid in Gay’s maturation process.

I love this pick as well. Gay is a guy that will immediately compete for a starting spot and it gives the Chiefs an athletic LB to pair alongside Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens played his best football in Dallas when he had a speed LB alongside him, and the Chiefs just drafted one. This is a steal for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs addressed one of their biggest needs and finally add an athletic linebacker with speed and coverage abilities.

Gay has had some trouble off the field with academics and a fight involving a teammate. Reid and the team, especially players like Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu, will help him to adjust and control him in case anything happens. The Chiefs have given players a second chance multiple times and it has paved success for the team, e.g. Tyreek Hill.

Andy Reid did say that Gay was their guy at No. 63 and was holding his breath that he was still available at the end of the second round. Gay is going to be a huge addition for the Chiefs.

Second Round Grade: A+

Round 3 (Pick No. 96) Selection: Lucas Niang- Offensive Tackle

In the third round of the NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected OT Lucas Niang out of TCU. Niang measures in at 6’7′ and 328 pounds. The Chiefs came into the draft with a need to bolster the offensive line and they did.

Since 2017, Niang played 975 pass-blocking snaps and surrendered zero sacks. Niang does a good job of using his length and hands to block defenders. He has had good showings against top draft picks, such as Chase Young and Nick Bosa in 2018.

The Chiefs have asked if he is willing to play the guard position, and he is willing to play wherever the team wants him. Niang is looking to become more of a versatile lineman, which would be great for the line.

I like this pick a lot. Niang is a guy who can come in and play guard right away and then transition out to the tackle position. He possesses size and ability that can translate well to the NFL.

The Chiefs do have one of the league’s best tandems at offensive tackle, with Eric Fisher (LT) and Mitchell Schwartz (RT). However, Schwartz turns 31 years-old in June and Fisher turns 30 after the 2020 season. Adding Niang brings depth and a player who can fill the position when those two are no longer with the team.

Third Round Grade: B+

Round 4 (Pick No. 138) Selection: L’Jarius SneedSafety

With the No. 138 pick, the Chiefs selected S L’Jarius Sneed out of Louisiana Tech. Sneed played safety this year for the Bulldogs, but has said he is more comfortable playing the CB position.

The Chiefs needed to address the CB position with the loss of Kendall Fuller in free agency. Sneed brings size and length, along with his athleticism and speed. The 6-foot, 192-pound defensive back showcased his speed with a 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. And that speed will be put to good use in press-man and zone-coverage schemes on defense.

I really like this pick. The Chiefs waited until the fourth round to address the secondary, but I believe they grabbed a terrific athlete and future player for the Chiefs.

I definitely see Sneed as a future starter at corner with Bashaud Breeland and Antonio Hamilton on on-year deals. In addition, I believe this is a great way to replace Fuller as Sneed displays the versatility that Fuller has with the ability to play both corner and safety. The Chiefs found a potential diamond in the rough with this selection.

Fourth Round Grade: A-

Round 5 (Pick No. 177) Selection: Mike Danna Defensive End

With the Chiefs final scheduled pick in the draft going into Saturday, they selected DE Mike Danna out of Michigan. Danna is a raw prospect with tons of potential to be a rotation player on the defensive line. He possesses a knack for getting after the QB. His ability to get to the QB is going to be critical in his development and growth with the team.

This is the only pick that I was torn on. I like Danna with his ability to get to the QB and attacking offensive lines, but personally I would have drafted Bradlee Anae out of Utah.

Fifth Round Grade: C+

Round 7 (Pick No. 237) Selection: Thakarius ‘Bopete’ KeyesCornerback

In the seventh round of the draft, the Chiefs traded a sixth-round draft pick to the Tennessee Titans for the No. 237 pick to select CB Thakarius Keyes out of Tulane.

The main rationale for the Chiefs to trade up and grab Keyes was because if he were to become an Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA), it would have become a bidding war for him and they believed that he would’ve gone elsewhere.

Like Sneed, Keyes possesses size and length that is paired with athleticism and speed that impressed the Chiefs. Keyes is also a hard hitter and physical, as he battles with his opponents on routes. He is going to need time to develop, but the Chiefs have depth at the CB position to allow him to spend most of the year growing.

I really like this pick. Keyes is a good selection as he is physical, using his size and length well. He possesses a lot of high-upside potential that can be brought out throughout the first season with the team. In addition to his potential play on defense, Keyes could also pave a role for himself on special teams and play a significant role for Dave Toub. I also like the double-dipping in the secondary as it provides more depth and pieces for the future.

Seventh Round Grade: A

Overall Draft Grade for the Chiefs: A-

The Chiefs did a really good job with this draft. The team addressed their biggest needs by drafting Gay, Niang, Sneed and Keyes. In addition to addressing their top needs, Reid and Veach added another dangerous weapon for Mahomes and the offense with Helaire and added more depth to the defensive line by selecting Danna. This is a draft that gives the Chiefs pieces for the 2020 season and for the future.

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