Now that the free agency period is all over but the shouting, it’s time to look anew at the NFL draft, coming up on April 26-28. Rather than look at the first-round prospectus, let’s instead dig a little deeper and identify some dark horse picks the Kansas City Chiefs might come up with after the first round. The following players are all rated below 50th by ESPN’s Scouts Inc, making them almost surely available to Kansas City, whose second-round choice is the 43rd overall.
Brandon Thompson (DT, Clemson): The scouting report on Thompson makes him read like he was made to play on the nose in the 3-4, rather than as tackle in the 4-3. He wins his highest marks for his ability to win straight-up one-on-one battles, meaning he can tie up multiple blockers, as the 3-4 requires. Conversely, he’s not a good pass rusher, and scouts also feel he has some work to do in maintaining balance in stunt packages. The latter issue he’ll have to work on in any scheme, but he’s clearly better in a system where he focus on raw force and handling the center, rather than being the more fluid athlete that the 4-3 would require.
Zach Brown (OLB, North Carolina): He’s a tremendous athlete and a member of the Carolina track team, making his potential on the outside opposite Tamba Hali intriguing. Furthermore, he plays with discipline and the scouts love his technique. Why then, is he not a Top 10 pick? He’s only 244 lbs, and has never played a full season as a starter. We don’t know if he’ll be durable enough to handle the NFL, or if the necessary bulking up would cost him any of the quickness that make him an attractive prospect to begin with.
Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech): At 5’10” 178, he’s a little on the short and lean side and I suspect he’d be overmatched as a starting corner. But the Hokie corner wins high praise for his ability in zone coverage, from his instincts to his technique to how quickly he recognizes routes and breaks on the ball. Hosley would be a good fit on a team that has its starting secondary set, but needs depth for the nickel and dime packages because they play in a division stacked with good quarterbacks—like, say, the Chiefs in the AFC West. The only question—do you want to use a second-round pick on someone who is unlikely to be a quality starter down the road?
Alamaeda Ta’amu (DT, Washington): The Huskie tackle is 348 lbs, and no one can doubt his ability to clog up the running lanes. He’s also got good technique as a pass-rusher, although a lack of quickness prevents that from amounting to much. He looks like a safer version of Brandon Thompson, although perhaps not the same upside due to a lack of any hope for pass-rush development.
Brandon Taylor (S, LSU): The scouting report first notes that Taylor is often seen on film putting players in the correct positions. The same report says that after the snap, Taylor is often out of position against the run and doesn’t recognize routes very well. I’m not sure why he’s even rated in the Top 75 unless a team is looking to groom a future secondary coach.
Of these five, and without knowing who the Chiefs would take in the first round, the player I’d go for would be Thompson. He fills an immediate need on the nose and has an upside. Although any of the four except for Taylor have an argument that can appeal to reasonable minds.