The Kansas City Chiefs weren't able to repeat as Super Bowl champions this past season, but Patrick Mahomes and Co. did go 14-2 and secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Chiefs made it all the way to Super Bowl LV, but fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9. Kansas City has had an OK offseason, but an opportunity to acquire young, cheap talent is coming soon in the form of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs know the draft is the most important event of the offseason, as it is key in building a competitive roster. There's no doubt that Kansas City has one of the best teams in the NFL, but the goal each year is to win the Super Bowl and the Chiefs have a few holes they still need to fill. Kansas City will look to find value in all seven rounds of the draft, but some needs are more important than others. Below, we will map out three objectives the Chiefs must accomplish if they want to pull off the perfect 2021 NFL Draft.
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Draft an offensive tackle early
It was difficult to watch Mahomes try to take on the Buccaneers' pass rush all by himself in the Super Bowl. The former Super Bowl MVP was pressured on 31 of his 56 dropbacks, according to PFF, hit nine times, sacked thrice and threw two interceptions. It was the only time all season in which Mahomes was pressured on over half of his dropbacks. It was also just one of two games all year in which Mahomes threw multiple interceptions, and his 52.3 passer rating was the lowest mark of his career. The Chiefs offensive line was not at full strength for that Super Bowl, and we all know they are a formidable unit when all five are present and accounted for. Unfortunately, this group has seen a good amount of turnover this offseason.
The Chiefs parted ways with both their starting left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, and their starting center Austin Reiter is still in free agency looking for a new deal. Kansas City did sign one of the best guards in the game in Joe Thuney, but who will start at left tackle is a question that's hard to ignore. I don't think the Chiefs' perfect draft hinges on taking an offensive tackle in the first round, but I do think it's a good idea. Jalen Mayfield out of Michigan is a player who has been mocked by many analysts -- including myself -- to the Chiefs, but he's more of a right tackle. A transition over to the other side in the future is probably not impossible, but the Chiefs could also hope someone like Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State or Christian Darrisaw out of Virginia Tech falls to them.
Take advantage of this deep wide receiver class
Much like last year, I'm calling on all 32 NFL teams to take a shot on at least one wide receiver from this class -- whether it be a positional need or not. I believe there is legitimate talent in all seven rounds, which is good news because the Chiefs are in the market for a new wideout. According to CBS NFL Draft writer Chris Trapasso, wide receiver is the No. 1 position group in this class. Kansas City will likely miss out on some of the top prospects at that position, but there's plenty of talent to acquire in the later rounds. Here's what Trapasso says about that next tier of wideouts:
"There'll be plenty of quality wideouts picked on Day Two and into the fourth round in this class too. Some names I really like in that range -- Florida's Kadarius Toney, Tennessee's Josh Palmer, Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge, Clemson's Amari Rodgers, and North Carolina's Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome (I like him more than most). Even the later rounds will produce gems like Houston's Marquez Stevenson, Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette, UAB's Austin Watkins, Florida State's Tamorrion Terry, BYU's Dax Milne, and South Carolina's Shi Smith.
"Pick two receivers in this class. Thank me later."
A couple of other names I'll add to Trapasso's list are the big-bodied Seth Williams out of Auburn and his teammate Anthony Schwartz, who ran a world-best 10.09 100-meter dash as a freshman. We know the Chiefs love that kind of speed. One more player who is worth a flier sometime late in the draft is Josh Imatorbhebhe. During his time at Illinois, he showed off the ability to make tough catches in traffic and also had can't-miss athleticism. Imatorbhebhe also registered a 46.5-inch vertical, which would have been a combine record if there had been a combine this year.
Fill holes on defense
The Chiefs defense ranked No. 16 in the NFL this past season with an average of 358.3 yards of total offense allowed per game. That may not raise many red flags, but statistically they weren't a great unit. In fact, Kansas City had the worst red zone defense in the league last season, allowing touchdowns on 76.6 percent of red zone drives. It was the third-worst red zone defense since 2000. The Chiefs have holes to fill at EDGE, linebacker and cornerback, and should use a second or third-round pick on at least one of these needs. These are the other positions the Chiefs should have in mind as the draft rolls into the final two days. Let's take a look at the prospects CBS NFL Draft writer Ryan Wilson has the Chiefs taking in his most recent seven-round mock draft:
|Round (Overall pick)||Prospect||College|
EDGE Jayson Oweh
C Creed Humphrey
OT Stone Forsythe
LB Pete Werner
WR Josh Palmer
CB Darren Hall
San Diego State
EDGE Tarron Jackson
RB Kylin Hill