With all but four teams focused on the offseason, the mock drafts are coming fast and furious. While Mel Kiper thinks the Kansas City Chiefs are going to address the defensive line, his colleague at ESPN, Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. agrees they will stay on that side of the football but opt for a linebacker to play opposite Tamba Hali.
Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Kansas City needs a pass-rusher opposite Tamba Hali and Smith is one of the more underrated players in this draft. He’s a little undersized for a 4-3 end but is a perfect fit at outside linebacker in the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense.
The Chiefs will need to find someone to give Hali help getting after the passer, but will they find that person with the 21st pick in the draft?
Remember, Scott Pioli and Todd Haley will have an extra rookie in camp in LB Cameron Sheffield next season as he returns from a serious neck injury that ended his 2010 season before it began. Sheffield, like Smith, was a standout defensive end in college — albeit at a much smaller school in Troy — that is trying to make the shift to outside linebacker.
Kansas City also signed Andy Studebaker to a contract extension during the season and even if Mike Vrabel returns for another season, it would appear Studebaker has the inside track on the starting spot.
That’s not to say I dislike Smith as a prospect. Quite the opposite actually.
In fact, he is probably going to be off the board before the Chiefs are on the clock. Even though Smith only has two years of experience he was productive since stepping on the field for the Tigers, thanks in large part to a redshirt season. He followed up his 11.5 sack freshman season with six this year even while missing three games with a broken bone in his leg. I would have liked to see him go back for one more season at Missouri, but that’s tough to do when you are all but guaranteed to be a first round pick.
As high as Smith’s ceiling is, I don’t know that the Chiefs are a lock to keep him in Missouri considering what is coming back next season and other areas of greater need along the offensive line and wide receiver.