First Round – Eric Fisher: B
Sixth Round – Eric Kush: C
Seventh Round – Mike Catapano: C+
When looking at the Chiefs draft one has to keep this fact in mind: Kansas City signed Tyler Bray.
The whole outlook of the draft changes knowing John Dorsey was able to acquire the most physically gifted thrower in the draft. Does he have maturity issues? Yes. Does he have a lot to learn about the quarterback position? Yes. But if those two things click, he could be one of the biggest undrafted free agent steals in Chiefs history if not NFL history.
It is somewhat stunning a guy some had going in the second round doesn’t at least get a flyer pick in the seventh round but Kansas City may be the benefactor of this development.
So knowing the Chiefs got a developmental quarterback in the draft – and potentially the best quarterback in the draft – they way we interpret Kansas City’s picks changes completely.
The first thing to notice is how much better the Chiefs got up the middle. Eric Fisher, Travis Kelce, Knile Davis, Nico Johnson, Branden Wilson, Eric Kush, and Mike Catapano all focus on the trenches in one way or another. Looking at the Chiefs the last couple of seasons the offense had issues running the ball up the middle in short yardage situations and stoping the run up the middle.
According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs averaged just 2.64 adjusted yards per carry on running plays between the left guard and left tackle (4.00 NFL average), 4.09 behind center (4.05 NFL average), and 3.92 between right guard and right tackle (3.99 average. Kansas City made the mark on the edges but when the time came for them to make plays between the tackles they struggled.
Opponents had little trouble running up the middle against KC, rushing for 4.24 adjusted yards per carry (4.05 NFL average) behind center, 5.38 between Glenn Dorsey and Dontari Poe (NFL average 4.05), and 4.25 between Poe and Tyson Jackson (NFL average 3.99). However, Kansas City allowed just 3.94 yards on Justin Houston‘s side (3.99 NFL average) and 2.98 on Tamba Hali‘s side (2.98 NFL average). This helps show that Kansas City had a tough time stopping the run between the tackles but could handle the run on the edges.
While Kush and Catapano are projects in improving this flaw, the other five picks mentioned could (and should) contribute immediately in one way or another. Especially Johnson, Davis, and Wilson who all thrive in making plays in the middle of the line of scrimmage.
The biggest immediate boost will come from Nico Johnson. Nico is going to help a lot in the run game because he is at his best when he is taking on blockers. Not only will he be able to make plays in those situations but he will open things up for Derrick Johnson to make plays as well. The fewer people Derrick has to go through to get to the ball carrier, the better. Nico will help in clearing that path.
In other words: as Wilson is to Jamaal Charles, Nico is to Derrick.
Next, Kansas City is now much better in the redzone in terms of personnel on offense. Last season the Chiefs were dead last in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage at 27.03% and didn’t score a single red zone touchdown in their final three games. Arizona was 31st in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage and they scored 40% of the time. This. Is. Not. Good.
True, the Chiefs were 30th in the league in red zone appearances averaging 2.3 per game so there is more issues with the offense than just the red zone. But when you don’t score a touchdown in the red zone for the final three weeks and average one touchdown for every four appearances for the season then it doesn’t really matter how good your offense is between the 20’s does it?
Part of KC’s improvement is going to be because they should be able to run the ball better up the middle more effectively given the draft picks and free agent moves they made. Specifically, they should be able to block better in the trenches between Fisher, Kelce, and Wilson. Wilson and Kelce are key for a couple of reasons. One, Wilson is a true fullback who can fill the position better than anyone since Mike Cox. And two, Kelce is not only an excellent blocker but he has excellent hands as well. In goal line situations KC may now feature Kelce, Anthony Fasano, and Tony Moeaki on the field at the same time. That’s three guys who can make plays in the passing game that defenses will now have to respect in addition to Charles, who will now have a true lead blocker in Wilson.
Then there is Knile Davis. Many have pointed to his health and fumble concerns, which we discussed in his draft grade, but lets look at what he brings to the table when healthy. Davis is powerful, fast, and athletic. He is at his best running of the middle and made several plays in Arkansas offense in his sophomore year. If Davis can take five carries a game on short yardage situations, situations he is best at, he could not only spell Charles a little bit but he could also be what everyone hoped Peyton Hillis would be. Is he a risk? Sure, but the dynamic playmaking abiltiy he has between the tackles is something that Kansas City needed to add to their backfield.
Finally, Kansas City may have found four starters in this draft for the 2013 season between Fisher, Kelce, Johnson, and Wilson. Fisher and Johnson are almost locks to start the season as the starting left tackle and starting middle linebacker. Johnson may only be a two-down guy, but he is likely to be out there a lot for Kansas City.
Depending on injuries, Kelce may end up being the primary tight end because of his ability to block and catch the ball. He is a more dynamic threat than Fasano and a better blocking option than Moeaki, which gives Andy Reid some options on the field. Kelce may not technically be named the starter but if he ends up with the most snaps of the three do not be surprised.
Wilson is a bit of stretch in the sense that the full back position isn’t used a lot in the NFL anymore, so saying he is a starter can be a little disingenuous. But the depth chart will likely have Wilson at the top, and he will see a lot of time in red zone and short yardage situations.
This draft isn’t sexy when it comes to names and skill positions. There are two offensive linemen, a middle linebacker, a tight end, a project defensive end, and a fullback that make up three-quarters of the draft. But the Chiefs are now deeper and stronger because of this draft and have the potential for dynamic talent between Fisher, Kelce, and Davis. As with everyone’s draft time will tell if Dorsey took the right gambles with guys like Davis, but it is hard to not look at this draft and see how the Chiefs got better immediately for the 2013 season.
Oh, and we still have Tyler Bray.