The Kansas City Chiefs are headed into unfamiliar territory for the first time in more than decade with the lowest spot to pick in the NFL Draft since 2004 when the team had the 30th pick overall.
The Chiefs arguably are the closest they have been to a Super Bowl run since 2003. Kansas City’s defense appeared tired in the New England playoff game the past season and the offense lacked a couple of key playmakers at the receiver position.
The Chiefs battled notable season-ending injuries of running back Jamaal Charles and cornerback Phillip Gaines during the regular season, and then wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and outside linebacker Justin Houston were banged up during the postseason. But a roster is only as good as its weakest link.
Here are picks that can make the chain stronger:
1.28: OLB Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
The 6-4, 251-pound Calhoun is one of the few pass rushers in the draft who is ready to compete immediately. The former Spartan has the bull rush, dip and rip, the club move and swim move all effectively timed in his rushes. He understands how to setup the tackles and when to perform these moves based on the tackle’s weight shift.
The three-year starter appears to get stronger with his rushes when the game is on the line. Calhoun can rush from both sides of the field, performs twist well and has the strength to rush as a 3-tech defensive tackle in a nickel package.
He sets the edge well against the run and diagnosis the play in the backfield quickly and reacts appropriate to the screen, draw, stretch, read option or bootleg. The Middletown, N.J., native almost had five sacks in the Big Ten Championship, if he hadn’t been held on two of the rushes.
Keep an eye on: QB Paxton Lynch (Memphis), WR Josh Doctson (TCU), NT Vernon Butler (Louisiana Tech), OLB Leonard Floyd (Georgia), OLB Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State), CB Mackensie Alexander (Clemson), CB William Jackson III (Houston).
2.59: DE Kenny Clark, UCLA
The 6-3, 314-pound Clark is very similar in build and athletic ability to Jaye Howard with good lateral quickness. He maintains the line of scrimmage well with even against double teams.
The two-year starter has quick recognition and diagnosis the play very well and sniffs out screens quickly. Clark is very quick on twist and disengages from blocks very well. He has a good club move with a nice rip built in.
Clark has the quickness to be utilized in nickel packages on rush downs.
Keep an eye on: RB Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech), WR Braxton Miller (Ohio State), WR Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma), OG Cody Whitehair (K-State), LB Kendrell Brothers (Missouri), CB Artie Burns (Miami), CB Will Remond (Mississippi), S Vonn Bell (Ohio State), S Karl Joseph (West Virginia)
Third round: No current pick
Keep an eye on: WR Leonte Carroo (Rutgers), OLB Charles Tapper (Oklahoma), DE Matt Ioannidis (Temple), DE Carl Nassib (Penn State), DT DJ Reader (Clemson), LB Joe Schobert (Wisconsin), DeAndre Houston-Carson (William & Mary)
4.126: WR Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Braverman, who is listed at 5-10, 177 pounds, is one of the hidden gems in this draft. He is a quick and shifty slot receiver that is quick in and out of his breaks.
The former Bronco will spend hours during pregame running the route tree and working on catches from different angles. The Florida native sells his fakes and stutters to perfection before making his cut. He has open-field vision similar that rivals Jamaal Charles and Dante Hall. Braverman’s balance and body control along the sidelines and out of breaks is arguably the best in the draft.
The two-year starter would be an asset as a returner and slot receiver with a promising career ahead of him.
Keep an eye on: QB Cardale Jones (Ohio State), WR Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State), OG Connor McGovern (Missouri), OG Evan Boehm (Missouri), DE Bronson Kaufusi (BYU), LB Jaylon Smith (Norte Dame)
5.162: OG Max Tuerk, USC
The 6-5, 298-pound Tuerk is listed as a center, but has the potential to be a good guard in the NFL. He was arguably the best pulling guard before tearing his ACL in October.
Tuerk, a four-year starter, gets to the second level very quickly and out into space for screens and as the primary pulling guard. Tuerk maintains his blocks well, but will need to improve his strength to consistently drive defenders to the second level. He is relentless on finishing every block and will even attempt to block his defender when falling to the ground.
The former Trojan would have been an ideal draft pick for the pulling offensive linemen of the Vermeil era.
5.165: CB/S Deiondre Hall, Northern Iowa
Hall is a ball-hawk and always seems to be around the football making an interception on the play. While he needs work at the corner position with his footwork and transition in his hip turn, he is capable of press-man and zone coverage.
The native of Blue Springs, Mo., might be better suited for safety to read and react to the route combinations and plays in front of him. His size at 6-2, 199 pounds fits the Chiefs. Hall is willing to tackle the ball carrier but needs to work on his pursuit angles.
Keep an eye on: OG Graham Glasgow (Michigan), OG Vadal Alexander (LSU), CB Michael Jordan (Missouri Western)
6.203: CB Rashard Robinson, LSU
The 6-1, 171-pound Robinson has the athletic ability to be a starting cornerback in the NFL. He only started only one season at LSU, but played press- and off-man coverage.
The former Tiger has smooth hip turns and good acceleration out of his turns. Robinson’s apparent lack of desire to tackle and allegedly breaking into a teammate’s home could force teams to weigh the options on this high-risk, high-reward prospect.
Keep an eye on: WR Tajae Sharpe (Massachusetts), CB Morgan Burns (K-State), CB D.J. White (Georgia Tech), OT Joe Haag (North Dakota State)
7.249: WR Moritz Boehringer (Germany)
Boehringer’s tape flashes highlights of good speed against an inferior level of competition when compared to some of the prospects coming from the college ranks. Listed at 6-4, 227 pounds, his combination of size and speed looks very similar to former NFL wide receiver Joe Jurevicius.
Boehringer ran a great deal of smoke and vertical routes with some screens and double moves worked in. He was able to outrun the competition from a multiple pursuit angles and take it the distance.
Keep an eye on: RB Aaron Green (TCU), OG Parker Ehinger (Cincinnati), LB James Burgess (Louisville)