The football season is over in Kansas City, which means only one thing ― time to start preparing for the draft.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Despite the Chiefs' 11-5 record, general manager John Dorsey has plenty of work to do this offseason so the Chiefs can take the next step in 2014. Most of his efforts will be put on preparing for the NFL Draft, in which the Chiefs will likely be picking 23rd.
So let's kick off the draft season with a look at the top potential draft-eligible players in tonight's national championship game between Florida State and Auburn. That means no Jameis Winston, folks; he's a redshirt freshman and must stay in school at least one more year. And if things go right for the Chiefs this offseason, they'll be too good to have a shot at him, anyway.
But still, tonight's game features plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. I culled these names from some of the top draft analysts, like ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, and I gathered all the information I could on them without seeing any film. But if you're looking for something to help take your mind off the Indianapolis loss, maybe reading this ― and watching tonight's game ― will help.
Tre Mason, running back, junior (No. 21)
Why he's a prospect: Missouri fans are well acquainted with this guy. He ran over the Tigers in the SEC Championship Game, rushing an absurd 46 times for 304 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, he's rushed 283 times for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns and was named the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year. He's still an underclassman, but reports say he's submitted his paperwork to be evaluated by the NFL's Draft Advisory Committee.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: The running back position figures to be in good hands for a while with Jamaal Charles, who is 27, and third-round rookie Knile Davis, who is only 22. Davis showed some real promise while filling in for Charles throughout the year; aside from the fumbling issue, there's no doubting his physical gifts. But he does have an injury history. It's hard to say where Mason will go if he leaves for the draft, but it's hard to imagine the Chiefs taking a running back before the fourth round, especially since they won't have a second-round pick (due to the Alex Smith trade).
Jay Prosch, fullback, senior (No. 35)
Why he's a prospect: He hasn't logged a carry this year, so he's a pure blocker, though he's caught five passes. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper says he's maybe the second- or third-best fullback in the draft. A lead blocker with physicality.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Fullback isn't a real need, especially with the solid play of Anthony Sherman, who emerged as one of the best lead blockers in football. Prosch is talented enough to get drafted so he probably won't end up a Chief, but perhaps they would take a chance on a fullback as an undrafted free agent.
Greg Robinson, left tackle, sophomore (No. 73)
Why he's a prospect: Third-year sophomore who has apparently received a first-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Kiper loves him; says he is mature and professional and gives coach Gus Malzahn input on the offense. Also says he's light on his feet, is one of the elite left tackles in college football.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: The Chief didn't draft Eric Fisher No. 1 overall last year to play right tackle, so despite his struggles this year, he will get a long look at left tackle. But a player like Robinson, if he somehow falls, could be tempting. It's hard to imagine he'd drop to No. 23 if he really is as good as Kiper says.
Reese Dismukes, center, junior (No. 50)
Why he's a prospect: A three-year starter who is a vocal leader and anchor for one of the best rushing offenses in college football. He has requested to be evaluated by the NFL Draft Advisory Board but centers rarely leave college early because they rarely get drafted early.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Rodney Hudson was a rock in the middle but the Chiefs spent a late-round draft choice on a center (Eric Kush) last season and gave starting left guard some work there during the preseason. Perhaps the Chiefs would like a little more omph in the middle of their offense.
FLORIDA STATE DEFENSE
Timmy Jernigan, defensive tackle, junior (No. 8)
Why he's a prospect: Is fourth on his team in tackles with 54 and has also racked up a team-high 10 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Seems to be more of a run stuffer; only 8 1/2 career sacks in 39 games. Not sure he's the ideal size to be a 3-4 defensive end, which is what he'd have to play in Kansas City with the presence of Dontari Poe. Seems like a one-technique guy in a 4-3 defense or a nose in a 3-4 defense, which he plays in Florida State's multiple defense.
Telvin Smith, weakside linebacker, senior (No. 22)
Why he's a prospect: Leads the Noles in tackles with 75. Is second on the team in tackles for loss with 9 1/2, and also has two sacks, three interceptions and four pass breakups. Kiper says he's a guy who is all over the field and is a form tackler and every-down player. Kiper expects him to be no worse than a second-round pick in a deep year for outside linebackers.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: If the Chiefs ever thought about switching to a 4-3, this guy might be an option as a weakside guy. Would have to be an undersized middle linebacker in a 3-4 but is a heck of a player.
Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback, senior (No. 20)
Why he's a prospect: Is undersized but competitive. Has also played safety. Is second on the team in tackles with 64. Also has 6 1/2 tackles for loss and somehow leads the team in sacks with five, which hints at the kind of physicality that could make him a nickel-type guy.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: The Chiefs had a bit of a revolving door at nickel cornerback all year long with Dunta Robinson, Brandon Flowers and Husain Abdullah logging snaps there. Again, he's a really undersized guy but he's versatile and tough. There's always a place in the league for guys like that.
Christian Jones, strongside linebacker, senior (No. 7)
Why he's a prospect: Is sixth on the team with 49 tackles, including 7 1/2 for loss. Also has two sacks, an interception and six quarterback hurries. Has also played inside linebacker and has some experience rushing the passer. Kiper doesn't expect him to drop out of second round.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Jones might have the kind of versatility the Chiefs could use at middle linebacker. Also has a better frame to play inside than his teammate, Smith, does.
Terrence Brooks, free safety, senior (No. 31)
Why he's a prospect: Is fifth on the Noles in tackles with 50. Also has seven tackles for loss, two interceptions and four pass breakups. Kiper sees him as a fourth or fifth round guy in a decent year for safeties.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Is a smaller guy but seems to have some range. The Chiefs obviously have a need for safeties who can cover.
FLORIDA STATE OFFENSE
Chad Abram, fullback, senior (No. 41)
Why he's a prospect: Has rushed six times for 26 yards and caught eight passes for 62 yards. Is the lead blocker for the Noles' potent ground game.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Is in the same boat as Prosch. If he goes undrafted, he could be an option.
Kelvin Benjamin, receiver, sophomore (No. 1)
Why he's a prospect: Caught 50 passes for 957 yards and 14 touchdowns. Has really exploded this season after coming into the program a little overweight. Is a physical freak who has emerged as a vertical threat.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: It will be interesting to see how fast he runs if he comes out. Has tight-end size and long arms that make him a red-zone weapon. Not sure he's Andy Reid's type of receiver, though ― he primarily used fast guys who could create separation with their quickness in Philadelphia ― and the Chiefs might be spooked by the ghost of first-round bust Jon Baldwin.
Rashad Greene, receiver, junior (No. 80)
Why he's a prospect: Caught 67 passes for 981 yards and nine touchdowns. Runs good routes and has been FSU's leading receiver the last three years.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Wide receiver is a position the Chiefs need to upgrade. The production is there, and if his route-running really is solid, he could be a nice fit in the West Coast Offense.
Kenny Shaw, receiver, senior (No. 81)
Why he's a prospect: Caught 52 passes for 929 yards and six touchdowns. Also returns punts.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: It remains to be seen if the Chiefs bring back Dexter McCluster. Shaw provides some versatility and might be worth a look.
Nick O'Leary, tight end, junior (No. 35)
Why he's a prospect: Caught 33 passes for 557 yards and seven touchdowns and is a solid receiver. Is the grandson of golfing great Jack Nicklaus and was one of the top prep tight ends in the country his senior year.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Reid loves his tight ends and while Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath are steady, it wouldn't be a surprise if he wanted more explosiveness out of the position. The Chiefs drafted Travis Kelce in the third-round last year and he still has high upside despite an injury-plagued rookie year, but it wouldn't be a shock to see them take a tight end, anyway.
Cameron Erving, left tackle, junior (No. 75)
Why he's a prospect: Two-year starter who is a first-team All-ACC selection and former defensive tackle. Kiper says he started slow this season but has really shown improvement. Was voted the best blocker in the ACC this season by the league's coaches and defensive coordinators.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Again, the Chiefs didn't draft Eric Fisher to play right tackle, so you have to believe they have their left tackle of the future. But Erving is a gifted player so it will be fun to watch him battle the likes of Auburn's Dee Ford and stud freshman Carl Lawson tonight.
Josue Matias, left guard, junior (No. 70)
Why he's a prospect: True junior who is a two-year starter and third-team All-ACC selection.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: Starting left guard Jeff Allen played through injuries most of the season and seemed to improve as the season went on. However, he's also gotten some work as a center and it's possible the Chiefs want to see what he can do there. Matias has tremendous size.
Bryan Stork, center, senior (No. 52)
Why he's a prospect: First-team All-ACC selection who won the Rimington Trophy as the best center in the country this season. Is very experienced (39 career starts). Has also played guard and worked at tackle in his career.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: It's unclear whether the Chiefs are looking to upgrade at center. If so, you have to at least consider the Rimington winner.
Tre' Jackson, right guard, junior (No. 54)
Why he's a prospect: True junior who is a two-year starter and is a first-team All-ACC selection.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: His size suggests he's a road grader, which is what the Chiefs apparently like in their guards, as Geoff Schwartz, who is listed at 6 feet 6 and 340 pounds, took the right guard job of Jon Asamoah ― who is listed as 6 feet 4 and 305 pounds ― midseason. Schwartz is a free agent who is coming off a strong season and would like to return to Kansas City, but at 27, he will likely do what's best for his family. It would be a surprise if the Chiefs didn't pursue him, though.
Dee Ford, defensive end, senior (No. 30)
Why he's a prospect: Logged 26 tackles this season, including 12 1/2 tackles for loss and 8 1/2 sacks and 17 hurries. Is undersized but can rush the passer.
How he might fit with the Chiefs: His lack of size could make him a good outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, which is exactly what the Chiefs run. The Chiefs could have a chance at him, too; it wouldn't surprise me if his lack of size makes him a mid-round pick. The Chiefs could use a developmental pass rusher due to Tamba Hali's advancing age.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.