The Kansas City Chiefs’ selections in the second and third round of the NFL draft on Friday hit a common theme—both were on the offensive line, both are projects that need a little work and that work involves better footwork.
Jeff Allen, a guard from Illinois was the Chiefs’ second-round choice. The report compiled by ESPN’s Scouts Inc tells us he’s good off the snap, particularly in pass protection and that he has the ability to re-set his leverage amidst the pass rush. His feet are quick, but his technique on the ground is inconsistent and an area he’ll need work.
Donald Stephenson, a tackle from Oklahoma was the third-round selection. Stephenson’s got tremendous potential thanks to quickness off the ball and lateral mobility that make it possible for him to control the edge. His problem is a tendency to be caught flat-footed, something that gives the pass-rusher leverage. Stephenson also needs his reads to be more consistent.
The potential upside of both players is more than enough to compensate for their weaknesses. No one drafted at this level is without flaws and the need to work on footwork is certainly something that can be coached. In Stephenson’s case, the tackles are pretty well set, so he’ll have some time to develop. In an ideal world Allen would step into a guard spot, although if he does require a year on second-string to develop it’s not the end of the world.
Ultimately, games are won and lost in the trenches, a fact too many teams forget as they chase the glitter of the skill positions. Kansas City didn’t forget, using their first three picks, including first-round choice Dontari Poe, along both lines. We’ll see how the individual choices pan out, but general manager Scott Pioli has again demonstrated he knows what wins football games.