The operative phrase here is “Best Player Available.” When the offseason opened, right tackle was a position of need, although after the free-agent acquisition of Eric Winston that is no longer the case. Nonetheless, Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin is still as good a player as there is on the board, which is why the Kansas City Chiefs take him with the 11th pick in the Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
Martin’s run-blocking skills win high praise from the scouts and the Stanford team he was a part of was a much more physical offense than they are generally perceived. On the flip side, his pass protection skills are still a little on the rough side, and playing right tackle prevents him from being responsible for the quarterback’s blind side during the developmental phase of his career. On a team oriented toward the passing game, I would not opt for Martin in this spot. For a team that wants to play physical football like the Chiefs do, he is an ideal fit.
Furthermore, the areas of biggest need in the Kansas City lineup do not offer good candidates at the #11 spot in the draft. Center requires an upgrade and the best on the board is Wisconsin’s Peter Konz, but he’s a lower-end first-round pick. A possibility at nose tackle is Memphis’ Donatari Poe, who’s gaining steam with scouts right now, but I’ve always been skeptical of players who magically “get better” when they haven’t played a football game. We’re drafting players, not workout kings.
Other talented players on the board include LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Alabama defensive end Melvin Ingram. If Kansas City’s defense was a 4-3, I would be inclined to go with Brockers or Ingram, particularly the former, given his ability to pair up with fellow LSU Tiger Glenn Dorsey and wreak havoc. But in a 3-4, where lineman are responsible more for tying up blockers than making plays, I believe a high pick at this spot is an inefficient use of resources.
The job Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli did in free agency has given him a lot of flexibility coming into this draft. He can add depth with a “best on the board” pick as is the case with Martin. He can trade down and draft Konz, filling a need, saving some money and presumably getting an extra later-round pick. He can deal out of the first round altogether and stack some picks for future years if he doesn’t like his choices. All of the above are valid scenarios, but presuming Pioli plays it straight, the best choice is Jonathan Martin from Stanford.