The Kansas City Chiefs own eight picks entering the 2012 NFL Draft. While that number is likely to change as GM Scott Pioli moves around throughout the three days of the draft, we’ll do our best to predict who the Chiefs may look at if they stand pat.
Last season we correctly projected Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin to Kansas City (though a round off) and six of the eight players we selected in our mock ended up being drafted and the other two signed as undrafted free agents, sticking with their teams through the 2011 season.
Sometimes it seems after the first round we all would have a better chance of picking by pulling names out of a hat. Even still, we have attempted to take a guess at which players would fit best with the Chiefs.
1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
This just makes too much sense. One of the few glaring holes left in the Chiefs starting lineup is at inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson. Kuechly can step in and play immediately, giving Kansas City one of the best group of linebackers in the NFL.
Not a sexy pick, but one that will go a long way towards helping the Chiefs reclaim the top spot in the AFC West.
2. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
He didn’t have nearly the amount of red flags Jenkins does, but Justin Houston worked out well for the Chiefs after falling in the draft last year. With the gamble on Houston paying off for Pioli, this seems like a perfect opportunity for him to roll the dice again. Top 15 talent in the second round (if he last this long) should be too much to pass on after losing Brandon Carr in free agency.
The ultimate boom or bust prospect in this year’s draft, Jenkins has been removed from some draft boards completely due to his off-the-field issues. If head coach Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs veterans on defense can help get this kid keep his head on straight, he has the potential to be as good as Brandon Flowers.
3. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Even if the Chiefs are able to lock up Dwayne Bowe long term, they still need help beyond Steve Breaston and Baldwin at wide receiver. With Matt Cassel under center, Kansas City needs receivers that can adjust to poorly thrown balls, something Broyles has always been able to do.
He’s coming off ACL surgery that cost him the last four games of his senior season and has knocked him down on draft boards. If he is all the way back, he is a great value here. Broyles adds depth immediately and insurance long term for Bowe.
4. James Brown, G, Troy
Last year Scott Pioli nabbed his future at center in the second round with Rodney Hudson. Now he can do the same thing at guard with Brown in the fourth, a star at tackle for two years at Troy. Sitting a season behind veteran Ryan Lilja will give him time to learn how to best make the transition inside.
The versatile Brown is a perfect fit for Brian Daboll’s zone-blocking scheme.
5. Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina
An injury to Eric Berry will always hit the Chiefs defense right in the heart, but under no circumstance can they afford to ever see guys like Sabby Piscitelli getting meaningful snaps again.
Allen can play in sub packages on defense and be a huge asset on special teams as a rookie.
6. Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
Overshadowed by the 10th leading rusher in the NCAA last season (Robert Turbin), Smith did some impressive work of his own. He averaged an amazing 7.6 yards per carry over 114 attempts, including nine touchdowns.
At his Pro Day, Smith ran a 4.33 40, a time that would have been the fastest at the NFL Scouting Combine. Even assuming a fast track at Utah State, there were only seven players in Indianapolis able to break 4.40.
With defenses worn down by Charles and Hillis, Smith could have a chance to show off his big play ability.
7. Rhett Ellison, TE/FB, USC
It’s been a while since we talked about “The Right 53″, but there’s no one in this draft that fits the bill better than Ellison. After being featured as the starting tight end at USC, Ellison made the switch to fullback as a senior. Ellison was not only a team captain and Leadership Award winner, but also had the latter permanently named after him.
He only carried the ball once for -5 yards, so he’ll never be a threat in the running game but he will make the perfect H-back that can lead the way for Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis or clean up in the passing game on check downs.
It’s always tough to get a feeling for the draft stock of an “intangibles” guy, so Ellison could go anywhere from the fourth to seventh round. He’s one of my favorite players in the draft and a guy the Chiefs would be wise to snag sometime on day three.
7. Bradley Sowell, T, Mississippi
Playing on the left side against some of the most vicious defenses in the country in the final 36 games of his college career, Sowell proved he has the ability to hang with the big boys. The captain does seem to lack a killer instinct, something he can pick up from Eric Winston.