Chiefs have solid draft after trading down

the chiefs draft

MAY 2016 – Never has there been so much excitement over nothing, especially in the midst of the biggest non-event in all of sports. The Chiefs traded out of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, dropping nine spots to add two extra picks. The excitement of the first round, complete with a draft party at the Chiefs practice facility, was all about nothing happening. The Chiefs did not select a pick until the second round on the second night, the 37th overall selection.

And the crowds went crazy!

Sports Radio 810 ran a fan poll, asking whether folks liked the move or not. Nearly 90 percent of those who responded liked the move. Web site ArrowheadPride.com also had a poll, where they asked respondents to grade the decision. Nearly three-fourths of those who responded gave the Chiefs either an A or a B, with the highest percentage (39 percent) going with the highest grade.

Here are the details of the trade. The Chiefs gave up the 28th overall pick. In return they got the 37th pick, plus the 105th pick (early fourth round) and the 178th pick (6th round).

When they finally had their time at the podium, the Chiefs selected Chris Jones, a defensive tackle from Mississippi State. He’s 6-6, 310 pounds with rare athletic skills. He’s got a 29.5-inch vertical jump and ran a 5.03 in the 40. In 2015, he had 44 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.

He displayed his athleticism with a nifty dance after his name was announced. He walked—no, danced—from the “green room” out to the stage. He then posed for every photographer and waved to every fan in the assembly hall. If he brings anything close to the enthusiasm he showed at being selected, the Chiefs have a high energy guy.

Stephen White of SBNation.com called Jones, “one of the most talented players in the NFL Draft, but…” When you’re talking about someone of Jones’ size and skills but lack of performance on the collegiate level, you can be sure there’s a big “but” involved.

“Jones is one of the most frustrating too,” White continued. “Chris Jones was fun and frustrating to watch. His deadly combination of power and quickness was on full display at times. Unfortunately, some plays he didn’t make are also instructive about who and what he projects to be on the next level.”

The Chiefs pick may have surprised some people, including Jones.

“They didn’t invite me (for a pre-draft visit),” Jones said after being selected. “I didn’t think there was a chance I would go with the Chiefs. They were one of the last teams I had in my mind.

“I know they are a very competitive team. I know they have good coaches in Mr. (Andy) Reid, and I know they have a heck of d-line coaches. They are a playoff team. I’d love to get up there and compete with the guys that are already on the d-line and look for ways to make me better as a player and an individual.”

The Chiefs are ready for his contributions.

“I think a lot of people had him as a first‐round pick,” Reid said. “He probably could have gone in either round, he’s that caliber a player. He’s a big kid with great energy. He’ll be a nice mix into our defensive line.”

General manager John Dorsey likes Jones’ skills.

“For a man his size, he is uniquely gifted, very good athlete, former high school basketball player,” Dorsey said. “He has such a wonderful ceiling moving forward. When you combine that with those defensive linemen in our room now—they have high standards to live up to—this guy will fit right in.”

When it came time for the Chiefs to take their own second-round pick, they followed a familiar theme for this year. They traded down. They sent the 59th overall pick to Tampa Bay for the Buccaneers’ third-round (74th overall) and fourth-round (106th) picks. That gave the Chiefs the third-round pick they lost in the tampering case, and three fourth-round picks (105 and 106, both via trade, and 126).

With the 74th pick, the Chiefs selected 5-11, 190-pound cornerback KeiVarae Russell of Notre Dame.

He was a highly touted prepster—as a running back. He switched to the defensive side prior to his freshman year, and he started 37 games at corner. He was one of five players suspended for academic dishonesty in 2014, but he was the only one to come back to the team.

“Obviously, with something like that, you are in a time that you are stuck in kind of a deep, darkness kind of thing,” Russell said. “Thinking about, what do I do here? You have to think what you did wrong and how  it will affect your future. I kind of knew at the end of the day, I just had to do what I did to get where I am  at now as far as coming back home during my suspension. I went to school still, I had a job, I was still  training. I knew I was about ready to go through a process of reenrolling back at school. I knew that was  going to go smooth, so it was all about if Notre Dame would accept me back or not because I wasn’t  expelled indefinitely. I wasn’t expelled fully from the school; it was just a suspension. So, all it was, was  doing everything right and showing that I made a mistake and that I wanted to come back. I figured it  would all work in my favor.”

In 2015, he had 60 tackles, 3.5 for loss, with two interceptions and four pass breakups.

He earned freshman All-American honors (58 tackles, two interceptions) and started every game as a sophomore (51 tackles, eight pass breakups).

After losing cornerback Sean Smith and safety Tyvon Branch to free agency, and safety Husain Abdullah to retirement, the Chiefs needed secondary depth. They addressed that with Russell. Matt Miller of NFL Draft Scout, tweeted: “The Chiefs got a steal in KeiVarae Russell. He’ll start Day 1 at CB in my opinion.”

The Chiefs again addressed the secondary with their second pick of the fourth round, when they selected Eric Murray from Minnesota. ESPN’s Todd McShay called Murray a “physical player, good in press coverage.”

Murray, a 5-11, 200-pound cornerback, has 4.49 speed in the 40) and durability, 39 straight starts.

The pick before Murray was Parker Ehinger, a 6-6, 310-pound guard from Cincinnati. He was a four-year starter and team captain. He played right tackle as a freshman, right guard as a sophomore and junior, and left tackle as a senior. He likely projects as a guard. His versatility provides depth on the offensive line.

With their third pick of the fourth round, the Chiefs selected Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. Robinson has substantial talent, but off-field issues kept him from being a higher-round pick. He was suspended four times as a freshman for failed drug tests.

“I realized how many people I hurt and how many people I let down,” Robinson said. “I knew it was a selfish move for me. I just knew I had to prove to everybody that football was my first love and what Iwas  put on this earth to do.”

If the Chiefs can help him channel his talent, his 6-1, 203-pound frame and 34.5-inch vertical leap can help him be a big catch for the Chiefs.

“Certainly the talent is there,” said ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper, “but can he be reliable and dependable? If you saw him in the right game, you thought he could be an early-round draft pick.”

McShay called him “one of the top 10 talents” in the draft.

The Chiefs made two intriguing picks in the fifth round.

They selected Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan and running back Tyreek Hill from West Alabama. Hogan is the winningest quarterback in Stanford history (ahead of some dudes named Elway, Plunkett and Luck). He completed 66 percent of his career passes for 9,385 yards (75/29 TD/INT ratio).

Hill played one season at Oklahoma State before off-season issues. In a December 2014 incident Hill chocked and punched his eight-weeks pregnant girlfriend in the face and stomach. Hill pled guilty to the charges and is in the a three-year probation phase, which if he completes without any more incidents, his record will be wiped spotless.

“I just told them straight up –  I’m trying to move on from that, I’m trying to be a better young man,  trying to show everybody who I truly am and stuff like that. It wasn’t anything major, just trying to let  them know who I really am, for them to have a good feel for who I am,” Hill said when teams asked about the domestic violence.

“The only thing I did say was ‘I’m sorry, I messed up. I embarrassed the program at OSU, I  embarrassed the coaches, I embarrassed a lot of people at home.’ That’s it. That’s how I explained it.”

On the field, he can be electric. He had a rushing touchdown of 62 yards and catches of 79, 68 and 65 last season alone. He holds Oklahoma State records for indoor 60 and 200 meter dashes. If he stays off the police blotter, he will see the most action as a kick returner.

The Chiefs spent their final two six-round picks on cornerback D.J. White from Georgia Tech and linebacker Dadi Nicolas of Virginia Tech. White was projected as a third-round pick by NFL.com. He has good instincts, athleticism and cover skills. He was a three-year starter and team captain.

While White has experience, Nicolas is raw. He did not begin playing football until his senior high school year. He played defensive end in college, but is better suited as an outside linebacker. At 6-3, 235, he ran a 4.75 40 with a 38-inch vertical at the combine.

The Chiefs took four offensive and five defensive players. They entered the draft with no glaring weaknesses, so they were able to trade down for more picks because they didn’t need to reach for anybody.

How they did will be determined in the ensuing years, but at quick glance, it looks like a solid draft.

Article by David Smale.

For more Chiefs coverage, visit http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/

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