As you’re probably already aware the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV and they now hold the 32nd pick in this year’s draft.
However, after Kendall Fuller, Stefen Wisniewski and Emmanuel Ogbah all found new homes in the first wave of free agency, there are plenty of holes on the roster that the Chiefs need to fill if they want to return to the promised land in 2020.
So what should Kansas City do with their first pick? I came up with the five biggest positional needs and the best three players in each who could be available at 32.
There is huge room for improvement in the Chiefs’ linebacker room this off season. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson played well last year as starters but there isn’t much to shout and cheer about beyond that.
- Patrick Queen – LSU
Queen will provide the Chiefs with a linebacker who can play consistent zone coverage and be instinctual against the run. This blend will give him plenty of opportunities to make plays and be versatile in Spagnuolo’s system. He also has great reactions and can really explode towards plays as they develop, which are extremely useful traits for a linebacker in today’s NFL. Out of all of the guys who are most likely to be available at 32, Queen will be best suited to the Chiefs’ defensive gameplan.
Although he’s not the most physical linebacker in the class, he’s extremely persistent and doesn’t give up when he gets beat. This is the player I want the Chiefs to draft 32nd overall.
2. Kenneth Murray – Oklahoma
Murray is the sort of player that will leave opposing offences thinking ‘where did he come from?’ His explosiveness, downhill speed and instincts make him a lethal run defender and blitzer. For this reason I think he’d fit in perfectly in Spagnuolo’s system. The Chiefs struggled with run defence a lot in 2019, so having a linebacker who can crash into the backfield and seal off running lanes will vastly improve our defence.
There is a question mark over his coverage ability but Spags should have no problem scheming around it. Tyrann Mathieu loves running wild in that shallow safety position which will take the pressure off of Murray’s shoulders and allow him to play to his strengths.
3. Malik Harrison – Ohio State
Harrison has the potential to be an extremely powerful linebacker. He can use his strength and his hands to get off blockers with ease whilst still being able to read plays as they develop. If the Chiefs are looking for someone who can get into the backfield from the linebacker position and wreak havoc then Harrison’s their guy.
Having said this he does look a bit stiff at times which holds him back in coverage. His game is quite one-sided which may be exposed at the pro-level. I also think that he could fall to the late second or even early third round, so I think the Chiefs would regret taking him at 32.
Interior Offensive Line
There isn’t a whole lot of first-round talent at IOL in this years’ draft but it is one of the Chiefs’ biggest needs this offseason. If the position isn’t addressed in free agency, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs trade out of the first round or reach for one of these guys at 32.
- Lloyd Cushenberry III – LSU
Out of the three linemen I’m focusing on this is the only one that would make sense for the Chiefs to pick at 32. Cushenberry made Joe Burrows’ job a whole lot easier at LSU in 2019. His intelligence on pass protection makes him stand out from the rest as he does a great job of picking up blitzers. If teams think that the key to beating Mahomes is pressuring him, Cushenberry provides the Chiefs with a perfect counter.
His power and hands are slight liabilities but I think his football IQ and athleticism makes up for it nicely.
2. Matt Hennessy – Temple
Hennessy is one of the best pass-blocking interior linemen in the country which suits Patrick Mahomes and company perfectly. His length is definitely a plus, as it allows him to keep pass rushers at bay, but once they get a step on him it’s sometimes hard for Hennessy to recover.
If the Chiefs can make the most out of his pass blocking potential and work on his stances and recovery then he could develop into a great guard at the pro-level. The Chiefs could reach for him at 32 but I wouldn’t be too worried about him disappearing off the board if the front office decides to trade back.
3. Robert Hunt – Louisiana-Lafayette
If anyone is the polar opposite of Lloyd Cushenberry then its Robert Hunt out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He’s a brute force on the offensive line and can be interchangeable at guard or tackle. For this reason I think Hunt would make a great rotational player for Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff.
His lack of awareness at times makes him less reliable as a starter so I don’t think he’s worth a first round selection. But if the Chiefs choose to trade the 32nd pick, I think he could be a solid choice late in the second or early in third.
Cornerback became a much bigger need for the Chiefs when Kendall Fuller signed with the Redskins in free agency. On top of this Bashaud Breeland is yet to be re-signed and could also find a new home for the 2020 season.
- Jeff Gladney – TCU
Gladney’s ball skills are what makes him stand out from the rest. He has a tremendous ability to get his hands in front of the receiver’s and bat the ball to the ground. The control he has over his entire body is almost at an elite level as he has great footwork, can swing his hips, get his head turned round and get his hands in the right position.
He does lack consistency but that’s something that can be worked on with good coaching at the pro-level.
2. Bryce Hall – Virginia
Reuniting Juan Thornhilll with his former Virginia teammate could turn out to be a great pick for the Chiefs. He’s got great hands and does a good job of baiting quarterbacks into making poor decisions. He’s also above average at getting off blocks which helps him get into the backfield to stop outside runs and wide receiver screens.
He easily could have been a top prospect in this draft if it wasn’t for a nasty ankle injury he sustained in 2019. At full health I would take Hall over Gladney but I think it’s too much of a risk for the Chiefs to select at the end of the first. Having said that, if he can stay healthy at the pro-level he has the potential to develop into a high IQ corner who can get up there and break-up passes.
3. Noah Igbinoghene – Auburn
Picking Igbinoghene at 32 may look like a bit of a reach but he has the potential to be moulded into a solid corner. His reactions and speed in general are impressive and he does a good job of predicting what routes are coming his way. The Chiefs will get the most out of him if they play him off the receiver and allow him to use his instincts to make plays. Igbinoghene played receiver in his freshman year before making the switch to cornerback. He’s also proved his worth as a returns man on special teams.
He’s not the most elite ball tracker in the class and he has sloppy footwork at times but just like Jeff Gladney, these downsides can all be worked on with the right coaching. I don’t think he’s worth a first round selection but I wouldn’t be too annoyed if the Chiefs picked him at 32 or traded back to select him in the middle of the second.
Interior Defensive Line
Even though the Chiefs recently brought back Mike Pennel there’s still some work to be done at the IDL position. Chris Jones is rumoured to be a tag and trade player so, if he leaves,, I don’t know how successful the team can be with just rotation players at the NT and DT positions.
- Ross Blacklock – TCU
Blacklock has the potential to develop into a similar player to Chris Jones. He has a deadly combination of power and hand technique that can be used to beat blockers in a variety of ways. He can anticipate the snap really well and has the ability to slip through double teams. Pass rushing will definitely be his forte.
Just like Jones his weakness is against the run. Oftentimes Blacklock will be so keen to get into the backfield that plays to blow right by without him noticing. If the Chiefs are looking for a Chris Jones replacement, he’s your guy.
2. Justin Madubuike – Texas A&M
Madubuike has a tonne of strength that he uses to his advantage in both pass rush and run defending. He also has good agility and can explode out of his stance which makes him useful in stunts and twists.
One aspect of his game that he needs to improve on is his consistency. He shows flashes of being a dominant DT but can sometimes give up on plays or get shut down with relative ease. When Madubuike is good he’s great, but he doesn’t bring it on every down.
- Raekwon Davis – Alabama
Davis’ size is certainly a plus for him. He can muscle his way into gaps and cause problems to the opponent’s ground game whilst still having good enough speed to perform stunts and move laterally. These traits will make him a good 3-tech at the pro-level as he’ll be able to fill gaps and move along the line when needed.
Davis doesn’t have the best hands in the world and will sometimes rely on brute force to get the job done. He may struggle against the better offensive linemen in the league because of this. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still available when the Chiefs’ make their second pick at 63rd overall.
Sammy Watkins has been rumoured to be on the trading block and, if he were to leave, there would certainly be a lack of depth at the position. Although I think there are bigger fish to fry with their first pick, the Chiefs could solidify their receiving core as one of the best in the league with one of these players.
- Tee Higgins – Clemson
Higgins stands at a whopping 6’3” and his large frame and strong hands will make him a reliable red zone target. He’ll be great in 50/50 situations with his ability to out-muscle corners and will provide Mahomes with a great second read if Hill or Kelce aren’t open.
His downfield speed could be considered a negative but, with Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman on the roster, I don’t think that’ll be an issue for the Chiefs’ receiving core.
- Bryan Edwards – South Carolina
Edwards didn’t exactly have the cream of the crop when it came to college quarterbacks which helped him showcase his ability to catch balls that weren’t perfectly placed or the wisest to throw. His combination of physicality and route running could prove to be lethal at the pro-level and who knows how productive he can be with a quarterback like Mahomes.
He’s not the quickest receiver in the world but, just like Higgins, that shouldn’t matter too much in the Chiefs’ system.
- Denzel Mims – Baylor
Mims is one of the most underrated players in this years’ draft class and, although it would be a bit of a reach to select him in the first round, he has the ability to develop into a brilliant receiver. Just like the other two receivers on the list, his height and size makes him a weapon in 50/50 situations and I’m also a huge fan of Mims’ ability to track the ball in the air and bring it in with his huge catch radius.
He does lack some physicality in his game and he can get shaken up by contact at times. To make the leap to the pro-level I’d like to see Mims throw his weight around a bit more to muscle defenders off of him.
Brett Kollmann did a great piece on how Mims could be a ‘superstar sleeper’ in this year’s class, I’d recommend checking it out:
There’s a lot of directions the Chiefs can go with the 32nd overall pick. If players like Patrick Queen, Lloyd Cushenberry III and Ross Blacklock are available the Chiefs should definitely pull the trigger on one of them. Alternatively, if they decide to trade out of the first round to get more picks, I think they can find themselves landing the likes of Jeff Gladney, Tee Higgins or Matt Hennessey in the first half of the second round.