Kansas City Chiefs Initial 2014 Round-by-Round Draft Big Board
Head coach Andy Reid and coordinator Bob Sutton need improvement along the line and in the secondary. The defense could also use greater depth at outside linebacker.
If Reid turns his thoughts to the offense he will likely want to add another weapon for the passing game. But he can't forget about help in the trenches, considering four O-linemen are ticketed for free agency.
Here's what an initial big board for the Chiefs should look like.
1. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
3. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma Stat
4. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
5. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star cites ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who has the Chiefs taking Stephon Tuitt with their first pick. The selection makes a lot of sense for a D-line lacking a dominant force on the edge.
Mammoth nose tackle Dontari Poe dominated in patches last season. But a lack of disruption by those either side of him soon left Poe isolated.
Tyson Jackson has never lived up to his billing as a first-round pick in 2009, while veteran Mike DeVito saw his best days with the New York Jets.
Putting a natural 5-technique, 3-4 end like Tuitt next to Poe would make the front more destructive.
Of course, as much as Tuitt makes sense, it's hard to reconcile not using the prime pick to fix a 26th-ranked pass defense. The main problem is at free safety.
Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps were too easily manipulated in deep coverage. This practically destroyed the schemes Sutton had built around the single-high safety concept.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is probably the most natural free safety in this draft class. He is productive and knows how to quarterback a secondary.
Another way to boost the defensive backfield is to add a quality starting cornerback to pair with Brandon Flowers. Veterans Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson only hovered around average for most of 2013, while rookie Marcus Cooper was targeted too often.
As an opportunistic playmaker, Justin Gilbert knows no equal in this draft. The Kansas City defense made a lot of splash plays in 2013. The unit would own even more highlight reel minutes with Gilbert in the fold.
Adding a playmaker in the secondary could have greater immediate value in an AFC West Division featuring quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.
Offensively, the passing game improved mightily down the stretch, but that is not to say quarterback Alex Smith couldn't use a few more targets. One of the smarter picks would be tight end Jace Amaro.
Bleacher Report columnist Matt Miller has the Chiefs selecting Amaro 23rd overall, and describes him as an "athletic, moving tight end, perfect for today's game."
A roving "joker" like Amaro would expand the playbook even more for Reid and Smith.
The Seminoles ace can stretch the field the way Donnie Avery can, but his huge 6'5", 234-pound frame also makes him a nightmare underneath.
1. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
2. Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina
3. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
4. Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
5. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
It is all defense on the big board for Round 3. There should be an abundance of potential day one starters available on that side of the ball at this stage.
Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Victor Hampton should interest the Chiefs the most. Fuller is a crafty cover man who takes calculated gambles to get his hands on the ball.
But health problems, namely a persistent sports hernia injury, will probably make Fuller a third-rounder. The Hokies star would be a steal for Kansas City at this stage.
The same is true of Gamecocks ace Victor Hampton, who Matt Miller describes as "a physical cornerback who lives at the line of scrimmage." Hampton would certainly suit Sutton's preference for rough and ready coverage that denies receivers a clean release.
If they still need a safety at this stage, the Chiefs ought to consider Northern Illinois ball hawk Jimmie Ward. He has turned heads at the Senior Bowl, per Tarik El-Bashir at CSNWashington, and he would pair well with Eric Berry.
One intriguing prospect who should be on the board is Missouri rush end Michael Sam. According to CBS Sports writer Rob Rang, Sam is in that grey area between end and linebacker:
At 6-feet-2, 255 pounds, Sam could earn the dreaded 'tweener' label from scouts who may see him as too short for defensive end and a project as a stand-up outside linebacker, pushing the productive defender into the second or even third round.
This defense fell apart when outside 'backers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston landed on the treatment table. There simply isn't another credible pass rush threat in the rotation. Sam would solve that problem.
Finally, with the need for more talented bodies along the front still pressing, Oregon's Taylor Hart could appeal. Walterfootball.com has the Chiefs taking the versatile lineman in Round 3.
1. Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama
2. Brandon Thomas, G, Clemson
3. Seantrel Henderson, T, Miami
4. Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
5. Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane
By the time they get to the fourth round, Reid and general manager John Dorsey should start thinking about stockpiling some offensive linemen.
Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz and Branden Albert will all be on the market in free agency. That would make Clemson's Brandon Thomas a smart pick at this stage. He is good on the move and fits some of the zone principles Reid likes to use up front.
Seantrel Henderson is a huge presence on the outside. The ex-Hurricanes product doesn't have sound move skills, although it's hard to imagine anyone standing 6'7" and weighing 331 pounds being nimble.
But Henderson is a punishing blocker who envelops defenders. He can play either tackle or guard, useful flexibility for a team that could lose a lot of its rotation this offseason.
If Reid still needs to add some extra weapons for Smith, Arthur Lynch and Ryan Grant would be great choices. Lynch is a big-bodied tight end who can win over the middle and thrive in the red zone.
Reid likes to use tight ends inside the 20, making the ex-Bulldogs standout a good fit. Similarly, Grant would prove valuable as a sure-handed intermediate outlet.
He doesn't boast burning speed and that is why he should be available here. Given Bowe's inconsistencies and Avery's trouble with drops, Grant makes a lot of sense.
Finally, the Chiefs would surely have a hard time passing on Ed Stinson in Round 4. He played on a hybrid defense at Alabama, displaying the skills to fill a number of roles.
Stinson can handle 2-gap responsibilities on the edge of a three-man line. He is also quick enough off the ball to slide inside to cause havoc in nickel fronts.
1. Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Notre Dame
2. Brent Urban, DE, Virginia
3. Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt
4. Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame
5. Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
The list of prime targets naturally begins to thin out at this stage. But if the Chiefs managed to secure Alabama pass-rusher Adrian Hubbard here, Reid and Dorsey could consider this round a success.
A natural rush end for a hybrid scheme, Hubbard can be moved all over the front to create problems. Sutton loves to get creative with alignments on third downs. He could certainly find ways to use Hubbard in sub packages.
Brent Urban is another piece for a 3-4 front seven the Chiefs should consider. The Virginia lineman has excellent size for the scheme at 6'7" and 298 pounds.
Offensively, Chris Watt would be tremendous value. The Notre Dame guard is scrappy along the interior, and a real force leading the way for the run. Knee injuries are a concern though.
With the need to restock the safety position an obvious offseason priority, Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler would be a good fit in the fifth round. He always gets around the ball and has a habit of making big plays.
Ladler snatched five interceptions in 2013, as well as forcing five fumbles, according to cfbstats.com.
At 6'5" and 220 pounds, Brandon Coleman is the type of physically imposing wide receiver who fits Reid's version of the West Coast offense.
Round 6: Pick 1
1. Devon Kennard, USC
2. Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
3. Brandon Linder, G, Miami (Fla.)
The Chiefs have the chance to grab at least one gem from two picks in the sixth round. A player that should appeal to them is USC pass-rusher Devon Kennard.
Despite less than impressive natural speed, Kennard can be a good fit as a rush linebacker for a 3-4 defense. He produced some respectable numbers during his final season at the collegiate ranks.
He notched nine sacks and 13 tackles for a loss, according to cfbstats.com. Lynch could easily act as solid depth behind Houston and Hali.
Bennett Jackson would give Sutton another tall corner to work into nickel and dime sets.
Finally, Brandon Linder is a steady run-blocker who would at least add another body at a position that figures to be depleted this offseason.
Round 6: Pick 2
1. Shamar Stephen, DT, Connecticut
2. Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell
3. Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Shamar Stephen is another big-bodied lineman who could play end in a 3-4. He would certainly become an active member of any rotation at the position.
In his full mock draft, Matt Miller has the Chiefs taking Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews with their second pick in Round 6. Mathews has impressive arm strength and good stature in the pocket.
It is not a bad idea for Reid to develop another quarterback behind Alex Smith. But with Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray already on the roster, he will have to be particularly enamoured with a late-round passer.
Stanford tackle Cameron Fleming could compete to provide cover along the offensive front. He was a solid citizen for the Cardinal but not overwhelmingly dominant.
If the Chiefs follow a board that sticks closely to their core needs, the lines, secondary and an extra receiver, they can supplement a roster good enough to return to the playoffs.