Chiefs mailbag: Looking ahead to the NFL Draft

The Chiefs addressed offensive line at the start of the league’s calendar year with the signing of guard Paul Fanaika and trade for guard Ben Grubbs from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

But that hardly means the Chiefs will maintain the status quo along the front five when the NFL Draft kicks off on April 30 and concludes May 2.

It wouldn’t surprise if the Chiefs selected an offensive tackle in the first round with the 18th overall pick.

And Kansas City certainly has flexibility to grab one or two offensive linemen in the middle rounds given the 10 draft picks at its disposal, so the answer is in the affirmative.

The Chiefs currently have five offensive tackles on the roster: Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson, Curtis Feigt, Derek Sherrod and Jeff Allen.

Allen can also play guard, but he’ll have an opportunity to battle at right tackle against Stephenson and tackle is Allen’s natural position.

“Jeff Allen is going to get in there, too,” coach Andy Reid said at the league’s annual meeting. “I mentioned Stephenson; Jeff Allen can also play that tackle spot. Tackle might be his best position.”

Meanwhile, keep in mind Allen and Stephenson enter the final year of their respective contracts, and the Chiefs regime with general manager John Dorsey likes to plan for the future.

The guard position appears set with Ben Grubbs, Zach Fulton, Paul Fanaika, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Ricky Henry and Jarrod Pughsley. But the team could sign an undrafted free agent or two to boost competition.

Kansas City should be in the market to add another center with Eric Kush being the only player at the position on the current offseason roster.

There are a lot of directions the Chiefs can go at this spot and the decision makers at One Arrowhead Drive will lean heavily to the best player available.

But since I’m on the spot, let’s go with Miami offensive tackle Ereck Flowers.

The 6-6, 329-pound Flowers will be very hard to ignore if he’s on the board at No. 18. And Flowers would address a need when considering the scenario pointed out earlier surrounding Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson entering the final year of their respective contracts. Adding an offensive tackle takes on importance if the Chiefs don’t believe Stephenson or Allen are long-term answers.

Flowers started out as a right tackle at Miami before moving to left tackle in 2013, and that versatility as a potential swing tackle should entice a Chiefs coaching staff that appreciates interchangeable parts on the offensive line.

Staying on the offensive line, Pittsburgh offensive tackle T. J. Clemmings, who measures 6-5, 309 pounds, or Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, who stands 6-5, 319 pounds, are a good Plan B if Flowers is gone. Clemmings and Scherff are also versatile players.

Plan C could potentially be a cornerback with Sean Smith and Jamell Fleming entering the final year of their respective contracts.

Anything is possible when it comes to trades during the draft and Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker is a talent.

Still, the only wide receiver the Chiefs should consider trading up for is West Virginia’s Kevin White.

That said, put me down as steering clear of the narrative from some within the national NFL media circles that the Chiefs need to draft a wide receiver in the first round.

Kansas City addressed the wide receiver position through free agency by securing a No. 1 option in Jeremy Maclin, who signed a five-year, $55 million deal. The arrival of Maclin, who turns 27 on May 11, gave the Chiefs the flexibility to attack other positions in the early rounds.

The Chiefs will likely use one of the 10 draft picks on a wide receiver, and this year’s draft class is regarded deep at the position, potentially deeper than the 2014 class.

There is no need to overpay at wide receiver in the first round when viable options such as Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, Miami’s Phillip Dorsett, USC’s Nelson Agholor or Georgia’s Chris Conley, among others, should be available for consideration after the first round.

Adding pass-rush depth through the draft isn’t a bad idea.

But it is hard to see the Chiefs pulling the trigger on Nebraska defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory at No. 18 considering the recent red flag over his reported failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine.

There are also concerns over Gregory’s weight. Gregory is 6-3, and checked in at 235 pounds at the Combine before weighing in at 238 pounds a couple of weeks later at his Pro Day workout.

The safe move considering the character concern is to pass on Gregory in the first round, and then re-evaluate if he is still on the board in the second round and beyond. The Chiefs under the former regime got a steal in Justin Houston in the third round, not the first.

Nothing is official until the initial depth chart is released prior to the first preseason game, but Alex Smith is the clear starter and Chase Daniel remains his top backup.

Daniel, however, should be pushed by second-year pro Aaron Murray during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp leading to training camp.

There are no guarantees Tyler Bray, who tore his ACL in January, will be ready by training camp, so the signing of Terrelle Pryor to a reserve/future deal in January carries significance.


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