One of the appeals of the NFL draft is that no one, even the teams that have hundreds of people employed to focus on just the draft, can predict what will happen when that draft clock starts ticking.
There’s no shortage of mock drafts out there, with most thrown into the shredder by pick 10. There are trades, surprising reaches and devastating falls, with every first-round pick playing a vital role in the future of each NFL franchise.
The Chiefs have been a microcosm of the draft through the years, by trading up to get Patrick Mahomes, trading back and landing Chris Jones, finding steals like Marcus Peters and missing on reaches like Jon Baldwin and Tyson Jackson.
It will be harder for the Chiefs to make a splash in 2018, as Kansas City sits without a first-round pick, after its inclusion in last year’s Mahomes trade to the Bills. Even without pick number 22, general manager Brett Veach has yet to shy away from a blockbuster trade during his tenure.
Sports Illustrated executive editor Stephen Cannella previewed the draft and Kansas City’s outlook, and even without a top pick, said the Chiefs are still in a good spot heading into 2018.
“They’re already one of the deepest team’s in the NFL,” Cannella said. “They could field a roster right now even before the draft and be one of the league’s best teams.”
Even with Veach’s track record, Cannella doesn’t expect a big trade featuring Kansas City.
“They’re not going to be too busy in the first round of the draft,” Cannella said. “The good news is, they have a quarterback for this year. They’re going to look to fill in some needs later on in the draft, starting in the second round.”
Cannella highlighted defensive lineman Nathan Sheppard from Fort Hays State, a nearby division II school in Kansas, as a player the Chiefs are most likely to target with their first pick.
“He’s going to help fill a need that the Chiefs have on defense,” Cannella said. “Sheppard is one of the best stories in the draft. He’s a kid from Canada, outside Toronto, started playing college football there before taking two years off to work full-time. He paid his own way to play division II football, and has now turned himself into one of the strongest defensive line prospects in this draft.”
The Chiefs have a Canadian connection on the roster already, with McGill University alum and current KC offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Cannella added that the later rounds and finding some sleeper picks will be the keys for Kansas City in building through this draft, even calling the team a Super Bowl contender.
Defensive line will be a highly sought-after position in the draft for many teams, with Cannella expecting the Raiders and Falcons to also bulk up on the front seven. As for the Chiefs’ silver and black rival, he said they still have too many holes to fill, more than just one coach can in his first draft.
The Patriots are still Super Bowl contenders in Cannella’s mind but he says this is one of the more important drafts for New England, given the uncertainty of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick’s future.
As for the team that ended Kansas City’s 2017-18 season, the Titans don’t have any major holes that need filling right now and will instead draft in preparation for the free agents that will depart after the 2018-19 season.
When looking at potential trade partners with the Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks have not picked in their appointed position since 2011. Pete Carrol’s squad sits at 18 this year with an aging roster and could be a trade partner for the Chiefs in hopes of moving back and acquiring a bulk of day two picks.
The first round of the NFL draft is set for Thursday at 7 p.m.
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