Kansas City Chiefs draft picks: The Kansas City Chiefs are not the NFL’s next dynasty, at least not right now. A Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the biggest one-sided Super Bowls in recent memory, proved that the Chiefs need to do a lot more if Patrick Mahomes is going to hoist another Lombardi Trophy.
Mahomes never stood a chance to win back-to-back titles. Kansas City’s offensive line allowed him to be pressured on 29-of-56 dropbacks, a Super Bowl record. Injuries played a role in the barrage of pass rushers he faced, but that wasn’t the only factor at work. The offensive line was a concern coming into the season and even if players like Mitchell Schwartz and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif return, this is a long-term issue.
Of course, it’s not the team’s only problem. Travis Kelce will be 32 next season and Kansas City’s offense lacks a dependable option as its No. 3 passing weapon. There are also issues throughout the defense, weak points that were exposed by Tom Brady and will be attacked by opponents in 2021.
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After signing Mahomes to a record-setting contract and giving out extensions to Kelce and Chris Jones, the team won’t have a lot of financial flexibility to work with this offseason. As a result, the 2021 NFL Draft becomes even more crucial. Let’s dive into how the Kansas City Chiefs draft picks can be used to help this team reach the 2022 Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs draft picks: Round-by-round targets in 2021 NFL Draft
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In the best-case scenario, the Chiefs might get three starters (Schwartz, Duvernay-Tardif and Eric Fisher) back at some point next season. With that said, there are long-term concerns about each of them. Pair that with the other holes and it’s evident how dire this situation is. Given the Chiefs have a $500 million investment in Mahomes, insurance is crucial.
As mentioned, there are other needs for the Chiefs. Among them, Kansas City’s defense needs help at linebacker and Steve Spagnulo would love to have some more pass rushers. We also can’t forget that, with Sammy Watkins hitting free agency and the absence of a true No. 2 wide receiver, that could also be an area to address in the 2021 NFL Draft.
First round, 31st overall: Liam Eichenberg (OT, Notre Dame), Teven Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma State), Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
Mitchell Schwartz is under contract next season, but the Chiefs must have worries about the 31-year-old’s durability and question how long before his back gives out for good. Likewise, Eric Fisher enters the final year of his contract and will be recovering from an Achilles injury. Liam Eichenberg is a plug-and-play tackle and he can even do that for Kansas City. He thrived at Notre Dame, a program with a rich history of developing offensive linemen, holding up strong in pass protection and dominating in the run game. He might be a better fit at right tackle, given his skills are tied to power more than athleticism, but this is a lineman Mahomes would have confidence in.
Teven Jenkins is one of the biggest risers leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6 right tackle overwhelmed defenders on Oklahoma State’s offensive line, embracing the art of physicality and pushing opponents around. His limited athleticism prevents him from being a left tackle at the next level, but he can be a starting guard or right tackle and hold up well.
Recent Kansas City Chiefs drafts picks should tell you that this organization is willing to take a chance on talent. KaDarius Toney had slight off-field worries early in college, but turned things around and was phenomenal this past season at Florida. He is Alvin Kamara esque with the football in his hands and simply knows how to get open underneath, turning quick throws into jaw-dropping plays. He doesn’t address the team’s offensive line need, but players like this help take pressure off a quarterback by creating a safety option.
Second round, 63rd overall: Dillon Radunz (OT, North Dakota State), Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, USC), Chazz Surratt (LB, North Carolina)
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North Dakota State’s cancellation of its 2020 football season, outside of one game, hurt a lot of NFL hopefuls on the roster. Radunz had some first-round buzz in the summer, but nearly a year away from football might have hurt that significantly. Fortunately, he proved himself once more at the Senior Bowl. Radunz projects as a left tackle in the NFL, thanks to his length and athleticism, but his technique as a pass protector needs some work. With good coaching, he can become a pillar on the left side.
If the Chiefs wants someone to replace Sammy Watkins, Amon-Ra St. Brown can step right in next season. This 6-foot-1 receiver knows how to create separation on his own and he offers tremendous reliability when asked to make contested catches. Eric Bieniemy can move St. Brown into the slot or rotate him outside, finding ways to take advantage of his size and athleticism against single coverage.
As mention earlier, one of the Chiefs’ biggest draft needs is linebacker. It’s a spot that seemingly gets worse by the season in Kansas City and we saw the problems this group had in Super Bowl LV. Drawing comparisons to Shaq Thompson by TDN’s Joe Marino, Chazz Surratt converted to linebacker just two years ago. While he is still learning the position, Surratt’s athleticism, instincts and ability to move sideline to sideline are impressive. With more experience, learning the finer points of the position – like tackling technique, angles to the ballcarrier – Surratt can become a very good linebacker in the NFL.
Third round, 94th overall: Spencer Brown (OT, Northern Iowa), Amari Rodgers (WR, Clemson), Patrick Jones II (EDGE, Pittsburgh)
If the team waits to draft an offensive tackle, there are some options available on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. In our Chiefs’ mock draft, with guard Alijah Vera-Tucker falling, we snagged him. In a scenario like that, waiting until Round 3 for an offensive tackle like Spencer Brown makes sense. He played right tackle at Northern Iowa and will stick to that spot in the NFL. Unlike other tackle prospects mentioned above, he offers more athleticism for the position and his best snaps come in pass protection. There’s plenty of development he needs, but he could fit Kansas City’s offense nicely.
Amari Rodgers impressed a lot of draft analysts and scouts at the Senior Bowl. Always overshadowed at Clemson, he earned Trevor Lawrence’s trust and finished with a 1,000-yard, seven-touchdown campaign this past season. He doesn’t offer prototypical size as a 5-foot-10 receiver, but he thrives in the slot and seems to always know where the first-down marker is at all times. He won’t be a vertical weapon for Kansas City, but finding an impact receiver in Round 3 would be a great draft-day outcome.
At least one of the Kansas City Chiefs draft picks needs to be used on an edge rusher. Patrick Jones II, once considered a potential first-round option, has seen his draft stock plummet over the past year. He recorded 9 sacks this past season at Pittsburgh, but really struggled at the Senior Bowl by winning just 11% of his one-on-one reps. It’s another knock on a player who many had concerns about due to his length and a lack of development. With that said, the talent is there to be a starting defensive end and the Chiefs have a nice history of developing pass rushers.
Kansas City Chiefs mock draft: Strengthening offensive line, building defense key to Super Bowl return
One of the best parts of the offseason is putting together mock drafts and simulating through different scenarios. With the help of The Draft Network’s 2021 NFL Draft simulator, we did that with the Kansas City Chiefs draft picks.
- First round, 31st pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, iOL, USC
- Second round, 63rd overall: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
- Third round, 94th overall: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
- Fourth round, 135th overall: Daelin Hayes, EDGE, Notre Dame
- Fifth round, 174th overall: Bryce Thompson, CB, Tennessee
- FIfth round, 176th overall: Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
- Fifth round, 180th overall: Naquan Jones, DT, Michigan State