NFL Draft

Friday Chop: Predicting Rookie Production for 2018

Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the record books, the Chiefs await the start of camp later this summer as they move towards building their final 53-man roster. General Manager Brett Veach was aggressive in last week’s draft, trading up to select every player the Chiefs drafted.

Despite not having a 1st round selection, Veach added much-needed toughness, depth, and competition to a variety of positions-mostly on the defensive side of the ball. But how big of an impact will each of these 2018 draftees make this season?

While that remains to be seen, it doesn’t hurt to make some way-too-early predictions.

Breeland Speaks – DE/OLB – Ole Miss

Speaks made his presence felt on the Rebels D-line, making 61 tackles and sacking the quarterback 7 times in 2017. Some experts and fans alike feel he was a bit of a ‘reach’ for the Chiefs trade up from 54 to 46th overall to draft him, but there’s no denying the nastiness he’ll bring to the Chiefs pass rush.

At 6’3’’ 285 lbs, he’ll likely share snaps at defensive end with Allen Bailey and Chris Jones in 2018. However, it’s possible the Chiefs have him lose some weight and try him at outside linebacker opposite Justin Houston.

Chiefs fans will surely see plenty of Breeland Speaks, but how many games he starts will remain to be seen.

Prediction: play 16 games (start 6), 21 tackles (9 solo), 6 sacks

Derrick Nnadi – NT – Florida State

Nnadi was a huge problem for opposing offensive lines during his four seasons at Florida State, amassing 165 tackles in his college career. He was the Chiefs first of three third-round selections made in last week’s draft.

At 6’1’’ 315 lbs, Nnadi gives the Chiefs the quality nose tackle they’ve been missing since Dontari Poe left a few seasons ago. He’ll be sharing snaps with Xavier Williams, who has signed through free agency earlier this offseason but will likely be seen as the starter on the D-line.

Prediction: 16 games (start 14), 42 tackles (16 solo), 2 sacks

Dorian O’Daniel – LB – Clemson

O’Daniel is a sideline-to-sideline player that made a lot of big plays during his four-year career at Clemson. He was a Butkus Award finalist after concluding his 2017 campaign with 51 solo tackles (11 for loss).

At 6’1’’ 215 lbs, many experts feel he’s a little undersized to be an NFL linebacker and could benefit by moving to the safety position. However, I believe he’ll provide some excellent depth and compete with Dee Ford to potentially be the answer at outside linebacker opposite Justin Houston.

O’Daniel will also be an excellent special teams player for the Chiefs in 2018.

Prediction: 16 games (start 8), 26 tackles (12 solo), 5 sacks

Armani Watts – Safety – Texas A&M

Watts lived up to his four-star recruiting status serving at the Aggies starting safety for the entirety of his college career. In four seasons, Watts collected 324 tackles (213 solo), and 10 interceptions.

With good ball skills, athletic ability, and instincts, experts believe he has the tools to be successful at the pro level. However, the only knocks on him are that he’s a bit undersized at 5’11’’ 205 lbs, his work ethic, inability to read routes at times and inconsistency to make tackles on regular basis.

That didn’t stop Veach from selecting him 124th overall though and with the hole left at safety following the departure of Ron Parker, Watts has the talent to likely be the starter beside Eric Berry in the secondary.

Prediction: 16 games (start 16), 52 tackles, 3 interceptions

Tremon Smith – CB – Central Arkansas

Despite playing for a division two school, Smith held his own on an island and possesses the size, speed, athletic ability, and instincts of an NFL corner.

At 6’0’’ 190 lbs, Smith adds immediate competition and depth to the Chiefs secondary and he’ll likely have the chance to compete for a starting role but realistically, most of his reps might come from nickel and dime packages as well as special teams.

Prediction: 14 games (start 3), 18 tackles

Kahlil McKenzie – G – Tennessee

Mckenzie played only two seasons at Tennessee, both as a defensive tackle. He was selected by the Chiefs in the 6th round at 198th overall and was Kansas City’s final selection for the 2018 draft.

Shortly after selecting him, the Chiefs expressed their intent to convert him to play along the offensive line as a guard.

McKenzie possesses good size at 6’3’’ 325 lbs, but will likely be a project and depending on his progression during training camp and preseason, the Chiefs are likely to stash him on the practice squad for at least the 2018 season until he develops.

Prediction: Practice Squad – No Stats –

While these are just some way-too-early predictions, the Chiefs open rookie mini-camp later today and will get their first chance to see which of these draftees are the real deal and may make an impact for the team as the 53-man roster begins to piece itself together.


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