When the NFL Draft begins selections in Arlington, Tex., April 26, the Kansas City have the No. 54 pick overall in the second round.
Here is an in-depth look at the team’s needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com’s experts.
Who would you pick and why?
TOP 5 NEEDS
- Edge rusher: The Chiefs ranked tied for 24th in the league a year ago with just 31 sacks, a paltry total for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s normally aggressive defense. Injuries limited Dee Ford and Tamba Hali to only two sacks combined, leaving Justin Houston facing more double coverages on the left side of the defense. The Chiefs hope second-year linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon with his 6-foot-7, 280-pound frame can take the next step as a contributor this season. But with Ford entering the final year of his rookie contract and the team facing a salary-cap decision on the 29-year-old Houston after the season, the club needs edge rushing help both now and down the road.
- Offensive line depth: The line lost its security blanket with free agent Zach Fulton departing for Houston. Fulton provided the Chiefs with insurance across the offensive line, especially inside at the guard and center positions where he started 46 games over the past four seasons. The only starting position open for competition is at left guard, where incumbent Bryan Witzmann along with Parker Ehinger, returning from an ACL injury in 2016, expect to compete for the starting job but don’t rule out additional competition. Cameron Erving projects as a swing tackle, but the team remains in the market for a backup behind center Mitch Morse.
- Tight end: The Chiefs acquired Orson Charles late last season in their search for a seasoned blocking tight end, but the need for a reliable blocker in running situations remains a real need. Travis Kelce lines up as one of the most imposing tight-end threats in the league in passing situations but the club can also use a capable backup with reliable hands. That need becomes more important with flamethrower Patrick Mahomes stepping into the quarterback role. The Chiefs ranked 29th in the league in red-zone touchdown scoring percentage last season, and a running mate for Kelce at tight end could go a long way toward improving an area that plagued head coach Andy Reid’s offense in recent seasons.
- Cornerback: Kansas City’s passing offense ranked 29th against the pass last season, and that was with departed Marcus Peters in the secondary. Veach moved aggressively to bolster his pass defense with the addition of Kendall Fuller via trade and free agent David Amerson. Steven Nelson also returns as a likely starter, but Veach subscribes to the philosophy that NFL teams can never have too many guys who can cover. The right corner and slot nickel positions proved a revolving door last season, and the defense needs someone who can nail down those spots. Amerson and Nelson get the first shot, but expect the Chiefs to look for other options and insurance in the draft and late free agency.
- Defensive line depth: Tackle Bennie Logan departs after one season, clearing the way for free agent Xavier Williams. The Chiefs also return Chris Jones, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Allen Bailey, who enters a contract year. But the Chiefs struggled to find a reliable defensive line rotation last year effective both against the run and the pass. Jones generated 6.5 sacks along the line, but the Chiefs also yielded 118 yards per game on the ground thanks in part to a leaky defensive line. Jones continues to show a high upside and Williams could help plug up the run, but the Chiefs can use a long-term solution in the middle of Sutton’s 3-4 defense to collapse the pocket.
–BEST FIT: Josh Sweat, LB, Florida State. The Chiefs want to play an aggressive defensive style in 2018 and put pressure on the quarterback, and Sweat can fit into that scheme immediately. The 6-foot-4, 251-pound junior produced 24 tackles for a loss with 12.5 sacks in 22 starts the last two seasons. Sweat seems a natural fit as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense, and shows comfort rushing from both the left and right as well as an ability to drop in coverage when necessary. The Chiefs often use their first draft pick to address a future need, and the club faces big decisions on both Justin Houston and Dee Ford next offseason. NFL teams have some concerns with a serious left knee injury Sweat sustained during his senior year of high school, yet his 4.53 40-yard dash time at the Combine ranked third-best among edge rushers in this year’s draft.
–Rob Rang: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama. With Marcus Peters no longer on the roster, the Chiefs must find pro-ready help for the secondary.
–Dane Brugler: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama. A physical, press player, Averett is the type of cornerback the Chiefs want for their defense.
FANS ON THE CLOCK, ON THE RECORD
OK, it’s your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.