Kansas City Chiefs Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State – Round 2
This is a bit of riskiest projection because Gay showed huge potential at Mississippi State bue never provided a massive season of production. In 2018, Gay recorded 48 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, five sacks, two interceptions and one pass batted. He looked like he was just scratching the surface of his potential, but got 2019 started off on the wrong foot with a suspension. He really helped himself at the NFL Scouting Combine by showing amazing speed with a 4.46 time in the 40-yard dash. The 6-foot-2, 243-pounder is dripping with upside.

The Chiefs really needed linebacker help, so Gay landed in a good spot to work his way onto the field. He is a good scheme fit and should break onto the field early in his NFL career. Gay has the skill set to be a three-down starter, and after some development, I believe he will emerge as a solid player for Kansas City.

2019: Khalen Saunders, DT
2018: Derrick Nnadi, DT
2017: Kareem Hunt, RB
2016: Chris Jones, DT
2015: Mitch Morse, G
2014: Philip Gaines, CB
2013: Eric Fisher, OT

Most Likely To Bust

Lucas Niang, OT, TCU – Round 3
This was a tough selection, but Niang stood out to me as having some bust potential among the Chiefs’ early-round picks. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Niang has good size to him, but team sources said he had issues with work ethic and lethargy. Thus, he never played up to his skill set at TCU. The NFL demands hard work to be successful, so that is a major pitfall for Niang to overcome.

On the depth chart, Niang could be a swing tackle backup, as the Chiefs have veterans in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher as their starting offensive tackles. Niang landed with a team that develops players well, but I could see him topping out as a backup and when the time comes to replace the veteran starters, I could see Kansas City using a premium pick or free agency dollars rather than going with Niang. The Chiefs have been a good drafting team overall, but I think Niang was the riskiest of their 2020 picks.

2019: Mecole Hardman, WR
2018: Dorian O’Daniel, LB
2017: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE
2016: KeiVarae Russell, CB
2015: Chris Conley, WR
2014: Dee Ford, OLB
2013: Knile Davis, RB

Potential Boom Pick

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU – Round 1
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has avoided drafting running backs in the first round, so one has to know that Reid really loved Edwards-Helaire to break with his tradition of targeting backs on Day 2. It makes sense as to why he would be infatuated with Edwards-Helaire, as the LSU star is a fabulous scheme fit for Kansas City.

There is a lot to like about Edwards-Helaire as a runner. He possesses a fantastic combination of traits like great vision, elusiveness, and superb feet. The elusiveness can be seen with how he cuts around tacklers, spins away, and dodges defenders with shifty moves. His short compact build adds to the elusiveness, as defenders have a hard time grabbing a hold of him. His vision is phenomenal, allowing him to see holes about to open and cut back lanes, and to read the flow of defenses behind his blockers. Edwards-Helaire’s superb feet are great to cut on a dime, provide him with excellent balance, and he has a tremendous jump cut to move laterally before darting downfield. He also has strength to his build to run through tackles and pick up yards after contact. Edwards-Helaire can’t square up a defender and run them over, but he is strong enough to charge through arm tackles and finishes a lot of runs well.

Edwards-Helaire is a dynamic weapon for the passing game as well. He is an excellent route-runner out of the backfield, and his shiftiness is very difficult to defend in the open field. His cutting ability and sudden bursts create separation from linebackers along with gaining yards after the catch. Edwards-Helaire is very dangerous in space once he gets the ball in his hands, as he weaves through defenders with his elusiveness. As a pro, he should be a real weapon for the passing game on wheel routes, screens, and check downs.

Edwards-Helaire gives the Chiefs another playmaker for their offense and an upgrade in the backfield. He can definitely take advantage of teams playing their safeties deep to defend Pat Mahomes, and Edwards-Helaire offers a mismatch receiving option out of the backfield. I think Edwards-Helaire could be a Brian Westbrook-type back for Kansas City and another boom pick for the Kansas City Offense offense.

2018: Juan Thornhill, S
2017: Pat Mahomes, QB
2016: Demarcus Robinson, WR
2015: Marcus Peters, CB
2014: De’Anthony Thomas, RB
2013: Travis Kelce, TE

Future Depth Player

L’Jarius Snead, DB, Louisiana Tech – Round 4
Snead has versatile size at 6-foot, 192 pounds and some serious speed that was illustrated at the NFL Scouting Combine. He ripped off a 40 time of 4.37 seconds in Indianapolis and really stood out for showing athletic upside. In 2019, Sneed totaled 73 tackles with six passes broken up and three interceptions. He could compete at cornerback or safety in the NFL while also being a contributor on special teams. Thus, I think Snead will be a good depth player for Kansas City.

2019: Darwin Thompson, RB
2018: Amrani Watts, S
2017: Jehu Chesson, WR
2016: Eric Murray, CB
2015: Steven Nelson, CB
2014: Aaron Murray, QB
2013: Sanders Commings, CB

Walt’s 2020 NFL Draft Grades:

32. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU – B+ Grade
With all of the running backs falling out of the first round, I don’t know if the value was there for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I love the fit, however. Andy Reid running backs need to be potent receivers out of the backfield, and Edwards-Helaire fits the offense so well for that reason. Running back was a big need for the Chiefs, and Edwards-Helaire will make Kansas City’s offense so much more explosive.

63. Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State – C Grade
The Chiefs have needed linebacker help ever since Derrick Johnson declined. I still think they’ll need linebacker help after this pick. I think this is a bit of a reach for Willie Gay Jr. It’s not an egregious one, but the Chiefs could’ve done better or traded down to acquire Gay.

96. Lucas Niang, OT, TCU – A Grade
Eric Fisher was demolished in the Super Bowl. Granted, he was going up against Nick Bosa, so he had quite the challenge, but Patrick Mahomes was getting no time in the pocket for most of the evening. It’s unclear how much longer Fisher can remain on the blind side, so I like the decision to bring in someone to challenge him to be the starter by 2021. I had Niang in the second round of many updates, so I love the value.

138. L’Jarius Sneed, CB/S, Louisiana Tech – B+ Grade
I’m curious to see where the Chiefs use L’Jarius Sneed. He can play all over the secondary, but Kansas City needs a cornerback more than anything. Sneed, who is very athletic, should be able to help in that regard.

177. Mike Danna, DE, Michigan – D- Grade
I didn’t think Mike Danna would be drafted. He spent one year at Michigan, where he logged three sacks. Danna is someone who could’ve been acquired as a UDFA.

237. Bopete Keyes, CB, Tulane – C Grade
Bopete Keyes doesn’t appear to be an NFL player. He has nice size at 6-1, 195, and he has long arms, but he’s not a pro athlete, so I don’t see him making the 53-man roster.

2020 NFL Draft Team Grade: B- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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