With the Kansas City Chiefs in the top five of the NFL Draft last year, ESPN’s gurus Todd McShay and Mel Kiper didn’t agree on which direction Scott Pioli would go until the final weeks. After having different players going to the Chiefs in their first mocks, they are currently in agreement that LB Akeem Ayers from UCLA would be a fit.
Kansas City must draft an outside linebacker, and in Ayers the Chiefs get a player who can learn from Mike Vrabel if he’s there or step in for him immediately if he’s not. Ayers is known for freak athleticism, but his versatility is the real draw. He has good skills as a pass-rusher, can drop off into coverage and holds up well in the run game. A sound fit for KC’s scheme.
When McShay first pegged Ayers for the Chiefs last week I was still thinking wide receiver or offensive line before linebacker, but with the uncertainty surrounding just how in depth the league’s free agency period will be, I like this idea.
Matt Cassel will need better options to throw to and block for him, but they can probably get by with what they have (or have coming back at WR with Jerheme Urban) for another season. With a much tougher schedule on tap, there is no way the pass rush as it is currently constructed will get the job done.
Tamba Hali — be it on his one-year franchise deal or a long-term contract — needs help and while Ayers wouldn’t be my first choice (hello, Aldon Smith) he is a safer bet than Cameron Sheffield who is trying to come back from a neck injury.