Kansas City Chiefs Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State – Round 2
For a lot of the draft process, I was too low on my rating of Jones because he was an underachiever in college. He has a great skill set, but didn’t produce anything close to what he was capable of. Still, sources at a variety of teams told me Jones graded out as a late first- or early second-round pick. He is a rare prospect with his combination of size, speed and athleticism. Jones could play a variety of techniques and is a good fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Teams do say they are concerned about Jones lacking love and dedication to football.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder could be a nice five-technique to platoon with Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard. Jones will give the Chiefs a versatile defender to set the edge or rush the passer from the inside. The Chiefs have shown the ability to get a lot out of Poe, and they could follow suit with Jones.

I think that Jones will become a solid starter for the Chiefs. I think he will probably have his best seasons in contract years when he is motivated by the offseason pay day. It wouldn’t surprise me if he is Pro Bowl caliber in those years. Other seasons, I think he will be a quality contributor who flashes some great games and some duds. If Jones is motivated throughout his NFL career, he could be a boom pick.

Most Likely To Bust

KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame – Round 3
After an excellent start, Russell had a tough few years to close out his Notre Dame career. An academic issue cost him the 2014 season, and then he played injured in 2015. Perhaps being hurt was holding him back, but Russell had a lot of issues in pass coverage last season. He consistently gave up separation and was beaten for plays downfield.

Because of those coverage issues, some teams were giving consideration to Russell as a safety. He does play bigger than his size, but Russell (5-11, 192) lacks the bulk to play that position as a pro. Russell could be better as a zone corner in the NFL, but Kansas City plays a lot of man coverage. I don’t think Russell has the feet and loose hips to be a man-cover corner in the NFL.

With Sean Smith signing in Oakland, Russell could be forced onto the field quickly for Kansas City. He also will be targeted by the opposition over throwing at Marcus Peters or the Chiefs’ talented safeties. Thus, I think Russell could be in trouble and it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t pan out for Kansas City.

Potential Boom Pick

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida – Round 4
Robinson is a quintessential boom-or-bust pick. On the field, he is excellent. Off the field, he is equally a disaster. Thus, Robinson has a clear path to panning out or flaming out in the NFL. If he continues to have problems with failed drug tests and suspensions, he will be out of the league quickly. If he can avoid using drugs and getting suspended, he could be an excellent wideout.

Across the NFL, scouts loved the physical talent of Robinson. They all said that he was a first-round talent with excellent route-running, quickness, and natural skills as a receiver. Teams feel that from a skill-set perspective, Robinson could have No. 1 wideout potential. However, he was constantly suspended at Florida for failed drug tests. Sources from a variety of teams said Robinson was removed from their draft boards because of all his problems. Teams also said they caught Robinson lying to them in pre-draft interviews, so they had doubts that he’s learned his lesson from the suspensions as he claims.

The odds of picks from the third day of an NFL Draft panning out in the NFL are less than 50 percent, so Robinson was an understandable gamble for Kansas City. That is especially true when you consider that the Chiefs have a talented roster already. A typical third-day prospect would have a hard time making Kansas City’s roster from a physical skill-set perspective. The Chiefs could afford to role the dice on Robinson. If he stays out of trouble, I think he could be a boom pick for Kansas City and end up being a tremendous complement to Jeremy Maclin.

Future Depth Player

Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota – Round 4
The Chiefs needed help at the cornerback position after losing Sean Smith this offseason, and they doubled up with picks of KeiVarae Russell in the third round and Murray in the fourth. Murray (5-11, 199) is a physical, gritty corner who will be a good fit in Kansas City’s defense. Murray can struggle some in off-man coverage against good receivers, but he is excellent in zone. I think Murray could develop into a quality nickel or dime corner who is a functional contributor as a backup. If an injury puts him in the starting lineup, it wouldn’t surprise me if Murray holds his own and shows that he is a good backup to have on the roster.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

37. Chris Jones, DE/DT, Mississippi State: A- Grade
Surprise, surprise, Andy Reid bolstered either the offensive or defensive line. Some things never change, apparently. In this case, however, it’s something Reid had to do. He lost Mike DeVito in free agency, so he had a hole at defensive end. Chris Jones will definitely fill that void, and he’s someone who could’ve been chosen at the end of the first round. In fact, had the Patriots owned the 29th pick, I think I would’ve mocked Jones to them.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

74. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame: B+ Grade
KeiVarae Russell is more talented than most third-round prospects, as he may have gone late one, early two if he didn’t come attached with character concerns. However, Marcus Peters also had similar issues, and he worked out, so I can’t blame the Chiefs for taking a chance. Kansas City needed a replacement for Sean Smith, and Russell should become a viable replacement.

105. Parker Ehinger, OT/G, Cincinnati: C+ Grade
Is anyone surprised that Andy Reid addressed his offensive line? It makes sense, as the Chiefs needed depth up front, but there were better linemen available. I’ve been mocking Ehinger (pronounced “Inger”) in and out of my fifth or sixth round, so I think this is a bit too early for him. Still, the selection makes sense, so I won’t be giving the Chiefs a bad grade.

106. Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota: B Grade
I like this pick better than No. 105. Eric Murray, unlike Parker Ehinger, fits the range as an early fourth-round pick. He’s the second cornerback the Chiefs have selected thus far in the 2016 NFL Draft, but depth was needed at the position, and it never hurts to have as many cornerbacks as possible. Murray is very athletic and has tons of upside, so he could start some day.

126. Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida: C- Grade
This is surprising, to say the least. We didn’t speak to one team that hadn’t removed Demarcus Robinson from their board. Robinson, of course, has some major character concerns. He was suspended four times at Florida and never took well to coaching. Making matters worse, he was just a mediocre tester at the Combine. Andy Reid has enjoyed success with poor-character guys, but he’ll need to put in a ton of work with Robinson.

162. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford: B Grade
I don’t have Charlie Campbell’s exact quote, but I remember him saying once that Kevin Hogan plays now like Andrew Luck will when he’s 38. Hogan doesn’t have what it takes to start, but he’s a smart guy and can learn any system to become a viable No. 2. This is when teams take backup quarterbacks, so the pick makes sense.

165. Tyreek Hill, WR, West Alabama: D Grade
Tyreek sounds like a character from Game of Thrones. Tyreek Lannister, perhaps? That’s the best analysis I have for Tyreek Hill, as he wasn’t in my top 400. He was kicked off Oklahoma State’s team for domestic violence. Didn’t the Chiefs already draft a receiver with character concerns?

178. D.J. White, CB, Georgia Tech: A- Grade
A third cornerback? Well, I can’t exactly blame the Chiefs, as they’re getting great value with D.J. White. Viewed as a fourth-round prospect, White is quite the bargain atop the sixth frame. He should be able to see some time in the slot in the near future.

203. Dadi Nicolas, LB, Virginia Tech: A- Grade
I just graded the Lions’ pick of Anthony Zettel and gave them an A-. I mention that because this is a very similar pick. Like Zettel, Dadi Nicolas was a productive player for his school and also showed off quality athleticism at the Combine. Unfortunately, Nicolas also has the same negative trait, which is that he’s undersized. At 6-3, 235, Nicolas is a small edge rusher. He could become a pass-rushing specialist, but he’ll probably never have a full-time role.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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