If you were to ask any members from the staff here who their draft crush was prior to 2017 NFL Draft, you would get a single, resounding answer.
Patrick Mahomes. *cries a single, manly tear*
To our great dismay, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up in the first round of that draft to select the gunslinger from Texas Tech and have cursed us with having to watch a hated division rival if we want to enjoy the highly-anticipated career of Mahomes.
Head Coach Andy Reid just can’t stop being a thorn in the side of Charger fans....#SMH
It’s been four years and eight divisional match-ups since the Chargers have won a game against the Chiefs. Since the 2015 season, in which the team went 4-12 and won a whopping zero games against division against zero opponents, the Chargers have been able to fight back some of the demons keeping them at the bottom of the division. This past season, the Bolts were a blocked field goal away from possibly sweeping the broncos (including a stellar shutout in the second match-up) on top of sweeping the Oakland Raiders.
I’m not one to encourage getting hopes up but this year is set up nicely for some good things to happen. Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like a broken record but relying on a pessimistic mindset won’t make this season any better even if something bizarre happens.
But just hear me out.
The Chiefs have a first-year starter at quarterback and, no matter how good he may be, the Chargers can take advantage of this situation with their #1 EDGE rushing duo in the NFL. Mahomes is known for his street-ball play-style that can also come around to spite him when we also have the plethora of ball-hawks waiting and salivating for his first mistake.
I don’t know about you, but that first regular season game is looking much more like a trap game for the young QB than a potential ninth loss in a row for the Chargers.
Alex Smith is finally gone from the Chiefs and I for one could not be any more pumped. When the Chiefs obtained Smith from the 49ers, I didn’t think much of it. He was a sub-par QB his entire career and I didn’t think much would change. That’s until Reid turned him into the Chargers’ own version of the boogeyman as he has haunted our dreams for the last four years. No longer is he able to spite us with his running abilities when the defense does everything right. No longer must we deal with his knack for not turning the ball over. The future looks much less bleak without him under center.
The next biggest change to the offensive side of the ball for the Chiefs is the acquisition of wide receiver Sammy Watkins from the LA Rams. After a year that saw Watkins collect an efficient 39-593-8 stat line with McVay and Co., Watkins becomes a new all-around threat for an explosive offense that already includes Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt. The offensive talent is roughly the only thing that still may keep me up at night with this team.
It's no surprise that Tyreek Hill scored the most touchdowns on throws 30+ yards in the air last season. pic.twitter.com/iSSlzJXHPi— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 13, 2018
For scouting purposes, it’s good that not much has changed other than the two stated above. The Chiefs felt so confident in there offense that they spent every pick of theirs in the last draft on defensive players. Not surprising when the offense is coming off a season where they helped set career passing marks for Smith while also being able to claim the season’s rushing leader in Kareem Hunt.
On the flip-side, the Chiefs were able to obtain some outstanding value-picks while working without a first-round pick this year.
They weren’t on the board until the 46th overall pick in the second round. With their first selection, KC reached quite a bit for defensive end Breeland Speaks out of Ole Miss. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder has the potential to play defensive end and outside linebacker in the Chiefs’ defense but may be better suited for the former.
In the third round, Kansas City selected another draft-darling of the staff in defensive tackle Derrick Nnandi from Florida State. At 6-foot-1 and tipping the scales at 317 pounds, Nnandi seemed like a natural fit as a run-stuffing 1-techique in Bradley’s offense with Brandon Mebane inching closer and closer to retirement.
Their fourth-round selection, Clemson outside linebacker/safety prospect Dorian O’Daniel, is a second defensive name to highlight that had ties to the Bolts through the draft prospect. After Gus Bradley often used safety Adrian Phillips in a Nickel/Dime linebacker role this past season, O’Daniel seemed like a perfect prospect with the potential to play that part on the defense going forward.
The Chiefs rounded out day three of the draft by selecting safety Armani Watts, cornerback Tremon Smith, and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie out of Texas A&M, Central Arkansas, and Tennessee, respectively.
The good news about the majority of these players is that their all currently relegated to back-up duty going into training camp with only possibly Nnandi being able to crack the starting lineup over Xavier Williams, a third-year player they nabbed via Arizona.
Don't sleep on Chris Jones as an interior pass-rusher. pic.twitter.com/8KZcgdvlY1— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 23, 2018
As far as other new faces, middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens joins the team after several solid years with the Cowboys. He will likely join Reggie Ragland in the middle of the defense after Derrick Johnson’s departure to Oakland earlier this year.
With Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters no longer in the secondary, this defensive backfield won’t likely give Philip Rivers the same fits that they have been over the last few years. However, rising-star cornerback Kendall Fuller made his way to Kansas City in return for the Chiefs shipping Alex Smith out east to Washington so I can’t say the secondary will be that much of a pushover.
Not a thing will change involving the Chiefs’ special teams unit heading into the 2018 season. Dustin Colquitt will remain at punter while second-year kicker Harrison Butker looks to build on a phenomenal rookie campaign where he connected on 38-of-42 field goals.
Tyreek Hill remains as the deep man for punt and kick returns as he is a threat to take it all the way whenever he touches the ball.
What are you predictions for the Kansas City Chiefs this season? Will they take a step back or continue their recent success? Let us know.