There is a significant amount of draft eligible players are undervalued every year and not talked about enough, due to the hype of first round prospects. Without a first round pick in this year’s draft, the Kansas City Chiefs have to hit on some of their mid-round selections in order to have a successful draft. To do this, the scouting team will have to find traits overlooked by other teams, consider players with character concerns, and possibly make a few small trades, as some of these players will not fall to their draft spot. I have made a list of some of these prospects and how they can fill the needs that the Chiefs have on both sides of the ball.
Arden Key: Edge/OLB – LSU
6’6″, 265 Pounds
[ Projected 2nd Round Pick ]
Last year the Chiefs lacked any type of pass rush, putting more strain on the secondary. Drafting a guy like Key would immediately help fix this. Key has strong burst off of the snap and uses his length to get pressure from both the outside and inside. Key had 129 total tackles and 20 sacks over three years at LSU. He would provide an outside rushing threat to spark the Chiefs defense and take pressure off of the young group of Cornerbacks that we have acquired. He did have some character concerns over his last two years at LSU, so this would need to be checked into and ensure that it is in his past. Overall, Key would be an upgrade over the soon to be departed Dee Ford, and could slide right in opposite Houston to give us the added QB pressure we need.
DeShon Elliot: Safety – Texas
6’2″, 210 Pounds
[ Projected 3rd-4th Round Pick ]
When Eric Berry went down with a torn Achilles last season, it exposed the biggest hole on the Chiefs defense, which was their lack of depth in the secondary. Daniel Sorensen wasn’t versatile enough to take Berry’s spot, and the rookies weren’t ready to step in and play. DeShon Elliot is rated as the ninth best safety on the board, which I feel is a mistake. Most of the safeties projected to go early in the draft are either box safeties or coverage safeties, but lack the athleticism and versatility to do both. Elliot could step right into Sutton’s system and be an immediate upgrade over Sorensen. He would fill in nicely next to Berry and be able to alternate assignments with him, allowing the defense to disguise their coverages. Elliot is strong against the run and great in coverage, and is a turnover producing safety. In three years at Texas, Elliot had 105 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, 9 interceptions, 13 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles (all 3 forced fumbles in his senior year). However, his downfall is his footwork and he had trouble making inside cuts, and adjusting to balls in the air. With the Chiefs defensive staff known for getting the most out of secondary players, I think Elliot would be a major steal at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th round.
Frank Ragnow: Center – Arkansas
6’5″, 317 Pounds
[ Projected 3rd Round Pick ]
With Zach Fulton gone in free agency and Bryan Witzmann as our starting left guard, there is an immediate pass protection issue for the new franchise QB. Beyond the first round of the draft, the guard position is lacking in high-level talent. A better option for the Chiefs is to draft someone who is versatile enough to play multiple positions. Someone that can play guard, or center switching Mitch Morse to guard. Frank Ragnow is just that. Ragnow played multiple positions along the offensive line at Arkansas and was good at both guard and center. He would be an immediate upgrade to Witzmann and also allowing for competition at center, which could allow Morse to slide over to guard. Ragnow has the size and power to bully defenders back while run blocking, and the hands and quickness to be solid in pass protection. He needs to work on his footwork as he lacks athleticism, so he relies on power and technique. Good coaching will help him excel at the next level and in my opinion, this is the smartest under-the-radar move the Chiefs could make, by drafting a center instead of trying to fill a hole at guard via a weak guard class.
Christian Sam: ILB – Arizona State
6’2″, 237 Pounds
[ Projected 5th Round Pick ]
Before signing Hitchens this offseason, Inside Linebacker was a glaring hole with Derrick Johnson aging and not much for depth behind Ragland. Sam shows a lot of characteristics of Johnson, because he is a hard hitting linebacker that is good in run pursuit, angles, and getting pressure behind the line of scrimmage. In three on field seasons for Arizona State, he racked up 240 tackles, 17 for a loss, 7 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles. The production and numbers are there, however he suffered a foot injury that kept him out all season his junior year. He had locker room concerns and was accused of not practicing hard, but with the right staff, and with me presuming that Johnson may be back as the Chiefs linebackers coach, he should be able to develop into at least a good rotational piece, if not just a tackling machine for the Chiefs defense.
Tyler Conklin: Tight End – Central Michigan
6’4″, 240 Pounds
[ Projected 5th-6th Round Pick ]
The Chiefs have arguably the best tight end in the NFL in Travis Kelce. However, behind him they have nothing but questions and inconsistencies. A second tight end doesn’t seem like a huge concern entering the draft, but if you look at how many times the Chiefs run two tight end sets, it is more important that a lot of people realize. Two tight end sets are a big part of the Chiefs red zone offense, and not having a true TE2 has limited them in these sets, causing us to have a lower-than-desired red zone efficiency. Demetrius Harris has developed inconsistent hands and off the field issues, and never grew to be a good route runner. Tyler Conklin is the complete opposite. Good, consistent hands, a solid route runner, and a reliable target in the red zone over his career in college. In 28 games at Central Michigan, Conklin hauled in 83 receptions for 1159 yards and 11 touchdowns. He will not be asked to take on a Travis Kelce style role, however he will be an added red zone target, an adequate blocker, and a good second option across from Kelce.
Rashaan Gaulden: Defensive Back – Tennessee
6’1″, 193 Pounds
[ Projected 3rd-5th Round Pick ]
With Kendall Fuller on the outside, Steven Nelson and David Amerson fighting for playing time on the other, the Chiefs still have a hole at slot corner, which is a position that is becoming more and more important every year. Gaulden can line up in the slot against any receiver, tight end or running back. He has the quickness to cover speedy slot receivers, while having the physicality to lock down tight ends. He has the burst off the line to get pressure on the QB, track and make plays on running plays. Gaulden would be nothing more than a slot corner, however that is a hole the Chiefs need to fill. While at Tennessee, Gaulden had 137 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception. He reminds me a lot of Fuller, and the way Fuller was utilized in Washington would be the perfect way we should use Gaulden.
Keke Coutee: Wide Receiver – Texas Tech
5’11”, 180 Pounds
[ Projected 4th Round Pick ]
The Chiefs have made a major efforts to upgrade the receiving group this offseason, but with the outside spots locked in with Watkins and Hill, we could add competition for the slot and depth roles. Coutee already has the Red Raiders offensive connection with Patrick Mahomes and would add another speedster to a group already loaded with speed. In three seasons at Texas Tech, Coutee racked up 159 receptions for 2424 yards and 17 touchdowns. Though the speedster is raw and limited in his route running ability, he can beat you on any route and any cut. Remind you of someone (Tyreek Hill)? Adding Coutee would give another speedy threat to fit into the slot and would fill a similar role that Albert Wilson filled last season. Coutee is more athletic and can beat you underneath in space. Team that with Watkins and Hill taking the top off of defenses, Coutee would provide the offense with a lethal threat at every level of the field making a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive staffs.
Kendrick Norton: DT/NT – Miami
6’3″, 312 Pounds
[ Projected 4th-5th Round Pick ]
With Bennie Logan gone, the Chiefs have a hole at nose tackle and defensive tackle depth. A good comparison for Norton would be Bennie Logan. He doesn’t offer anything in regards to pass rush, however is a monster in the run game. Norton is the true definition of a double team eating nose tackle. In three seasons for Miami, he totaled 84 tackles, 18 for a loss, and 5 sacks. He is strong and physical at the point of attack. One concern, however, is that his weight is not very well distributed. He has a gut and could use a good strength coordinator who will help him lose some of the belly fat and gain back the muscle. This will give him an extra edge as he is already solid in the run game. He is raw, plays stiff, and uses his weight to hold point of attack instead of technique. Overall with the right staff, he could be a mid-round steal and could be transformed into a dominate NT/DT.