The two biggest draft gurus have released their final mock drafts and they both agree that Scott Pioli and the Kansas City Chiefs will target the offensive line. However, ESPN’s Mel Kiper and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock don’t agree on the player that will be playing at Arrowhead. Kiper went with a familiar name, while Mayock projected a player few have connected with Kansas City.
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Chiefs have a need here, and if they want to get back to that power running game that’s defined them over the years, Carimi is a safe pick. Todd Haley will like a player with his versatility and power, and the Chiefs will have an immediate plug-and-play. Carimi has gone up against some of the best and handled them. Scott Pioli runs a good show, and this is a smart pick as the Chiefs continue to build a team on the rise.
Danny Watkins, OL, Baylor
When Scott Pioli worked with the Patriots, they took a guy named Logan Mankins. I see his reincarnation in Watkins. I think Watkins is a Pioli guy. He’s a try-hard kid. He’s gifted, tough and mean. You plug him in at right tackle in Year 1, and he’ll be able to move inside later, if needed.
Both Carimi and Watkins played left tackle last season, took over at their school for first round draft picks (Joe Thomas and Jason Smith, respectively) and will be NFL rookies next season. That’s about where the similarities between these two players end.
I projected that the Chiefs would select Carimi and you can read my full thoughts on the selection here. Pretty simply, he did everything at Wisconsin that All-Pro Joe Thomas did and is ready to play in the NFL at right tackle right now and eventually could swing over to the left side.
Watkins, on the other hand, is already 26 years old yet has only been playing football for four years. Those first two years were at Butte College before finding his way to Baylor. At 6’3″, it’s hard to imagine Watkins spending much time at either tackle position and even at guard he will have a steep learning curve due to his lack of experience. If he were younger I would feel better about his ceiling as a prospect.
You have to love that Mayock, one of the best, sees Mankins. If Watkins can become even a poor man’s Mankins, sign me up. I just think that’s far too much to ask of an older player with just two years of big-time experience.