Factory of Sadness, a FanSided blog dedicated to Cleveland area sports, has been running a network-wide NFL mock draft. Kansas City was just recently on the clock and FOS asked KC Kingdom to submit the pick. Here is was our selection.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has been adamant since day one that his drafting philosophy is to take the best available player no matter what the perceived needs of the team may be according to outsiders. So, while taking a defensive back here may seem like the best choice for the Chiefs with the 23rd overall pick based on need, it very likely may not be the way Dorsey is going to approach the pick.
Who exactly will be at the top of the board for Dorsey come pick number 23? Based on the way FanSided’s mock draft has developed, here are the two most likely options the Chiefs will be looking at when they are on the clock.
Option #1: Marqise Lee
This is the option that fits both the “likely top player available” and also fills a need for the Chiefs on offense. It is a major priority for the team to find more offensive weapons in the passing game in order to give Dwayne Bowe more space to work and Alex Smith more options to throw to. Lee fits the bill in that regard.
The number one positive thing about Lee is that he has excelled at USC in a West Coast system, which is, to a degree, what the Chiefs run in Kansas City. While the terminology may change and the offense will become more complex in the NFL, the basic things Lee will be asked to do will not change. Because of this we know that Lee has the tools necessary to fill the role on Kansas City’s team as the second wide receiver opposite of Bowe.
In three years at USC Lee amassed 248 receptions for 3,655 yards, and 29 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Lee caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. His production came on a team that was poorly coached (Hello, Lane Kiffin), had inconsistent quarterback play (Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler), and with a nagging knee injury this season. You are going to be hard pressed to find a wide receiver with more on-field production than Lee.
It is not like Lee is a crap athlete either. In 2012 Lee made Bruce Feldman’s “Freak List” for college football players who are insanely athletic. Here’s a bit of what he wrote about Lee.
Lee’s athleticism had Lane Kiffin saying the rising sophomore could leave the school as the program’s best receiver ever. This spring, the 6-1, 200-pound Lee moonlighted as a long jumper on the USC track team where he had Trojans coaches raving there, too, after leaping 24-4. Lee said he’s found that the jumping training has helped hone his body control and anticipation as a receiver.
And keep in mind, this was written before Lee’s insane 2012 season. Lee would end up being an honorable mention on Feldman’s list in 2013.
Option #2: Kony Ealy
Ealy may be the best available defensive player at number 23 if the Chiefs decide to go that direction. At 6-5, 275 pounds, Ealy doesn’t fit the Chiefs defensive end needs, but he is the most athletic and skilled pass rusher left at this stage of the draft.
While Michael Sam got the accolades for the Missouri Tigers, Ealy was their best defender on the defensive line. Ealy racked up eight sacks (all during SEC play), 14 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and an interception. His best games were in the biggest games of the season. Ealy combined for three sacks, five tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in the SEC Championship and Cotton Bowl, dominating against some of best offensive linemen in college football.
One could debate whether or not a pass rushing outside linebacker – which is what Ealy would likely be in KC’s 3-4 defense – is something the Chiefs should be spending a first round pick on given they have two Pro Bowl caliber players at those positions already in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. However, the Chiefs did lack a pass rush in the second half of the season when Houston went down with an elbow injury, and Hali will turn 31-years-old next season. Ealy could provide the depth the Chiefs need in terms of pass rushers, and could be the successor to Hali once his time in Kansas City is over.
So who should the Chiefs pick in this situation?
Given the need, talents, and on-field production, Lee would be the better fit here for the Chiefs. It is hard to ignore what his has accomplished on the field, and is equally difficult to look past the schematic fit he would be for the Chiefs.
This question would be far more difficult to answer if Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt fell to the Chiefs. A 6-6, 322-pound defensive end, who has accumulated 19.5 sacks in the last two seasons, Tuitt could be the only player here that would make Kansas City think about passing on Lee. Tuitt was selected 21st overall by the Green Bay Packers in our mock draft, so he wasn’t available to KC here. But if he had fallen, the likelihood is that Tuitt would have been the selection for the Chiefs.
For now, we’ll settle for the guy who may end up being the best wide receiver in this draft.