One day after addressing one significant need — cornerback — with the selection of Washington’s Marcus Peters in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Chiefs went about doing the same at two more positions on the draft’s second day.
With their second-round pick (49th overall) Friday, the Chiefs selected Missouri offensive lineman Mitch Morse. In the third round, they traded up to get Georgia receiver Chris Conley and with their final third round pick — which they received as compensation for losing Branden Albert — they added another reinforcement at cornerback with Oregon State’s Steven Nelson.
“We got better today,” Dorsey said. “We (took) not only the best players, but also we addressed some needs we needed to get filled here (today).”
Selecting Morse — a three-year starter at Mizzou who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 305 pounds — obviously, was the first part of that. He is currently listed as a center by the Chiefs, which means he could be position to compete with third-year Eric Kush for the starting position vacated by Rodney Hudson, who left for Oakland during free agency.
“He could play all five positions,” said Dorsey, who added that Morse could grow into a starting-caliber player at center or guard. “His versatility, his athleticism, his smarts and his toughness are really good qualities to have.”
In the third round, the Chiefs have finally addressed the wide receiver position, as they packaged their third-round pick (80th overall pick) and sixth-round pick (193rd overall pick) to the Vikings for the rights to the 76th overall pick, and used the choice to select Georgia receiver Chris Conley.
“I thought that, as you sat and look at what was transpiring, it was probably best to react right now and go get a receiver,” Dorsey said. “Size, speed...he’s got vertical speed. He really does have some nice feet, in terms of running after the catch, he’s got enough size to break the arm tackle..he’s a really sharp kid so he’s going to pick the playbook up.”
Conley, a two-year starter who turns 23 this year, is a big receiver at 6 feet 2 and 213 pounds. He opened eyes with a sterling combine performance in which he was among the top testers at his position in the 40-yard dash (4.35), bench press (18 reps of 225), vertical jump (45 inches) and broad jump (139 inches).
Conley also boasts long arms, at 33 3/4 inches, and has a large catch radius. He caught 36 passes for 657 yards — an impressive average of 18.2 yards per catch — and eight touchdowns in 2014.
With his size and athleticism, Conley could be an intriguing option as an outside receiver in Chiefs coach Andy Reid’s offense.
Conley doesn’t take the fact the Chiefs traded up to get him lightly.
“It makes me feel great, but at the same time, it increases my sense of urgency for how I need to work,” Conley said of the Chiefs’ decision to trade up for him. “If a team is gonna move up and they’re gonna draft you in that position, they’re gonna need you to be ready to make some plays, they’re gonna need you to be willing and able to do anything everything to help this team win.”
Conley’s enthusiasm at his selection was shared by Morse, who started 11 games in 2012, including seven at center — where he dealt with some snapping issues — and four at right tackle due to injuries along the offensive line. Morse stuck at right tackle in 2013, starting all 14 games, and moved to left tackle in 2014, when he was named a team captain and started all 14 games.
Morse is one of only two centers on the roster, and insists he’s absolutely willing to play the position.
“If I have to move back to that position, I’ll be just fine,” Morse said. “I’ve accepted the 2012 season, I learned a lot from it, and I had a lot of game-time experience at center, so if that’s the position they want me to play, I feel confident going forward I can be an asset for the Chiefs, if need be, at center.”
This marks the second straight year a Missouri offensive lineman has been selected in the second round. The Seattle Seahawks selected Justin Britt last year, and Britt became an immediate starter at right tackle.
Morse opened some eyes with an impressive performance at the NFL combine.
“I was fortunate enough to really put up some good numbers and really get my name on people’s boards,” Morse said. “So if they didn’t know about me, they could see my film and go from there. But I definitely do believe the combine helped me a ton.”
His bench press (36 reps), broad jump (112 inches) and 20-yard shuttle (4.50) was ranked in the top five among all offensive linemen, and he also posted a 5.14 40-yard dash, a 31-inch vertical jump and a 7.60 three-done drill.
“I talked to (the Chiefs) at the combine,” Morse said. “I got to really hit it off with Coach (Andy) Reid and the general manager and the coaches were there.”
With their final pick in the third round (98th overall), the Chiefs opted to buoy their defensive secondary by selecting Nelson from Oregon State.
“He’s very versatile, he’s very prideful and he’s a really good defensive football player,” Dorsey said. “
Nelson, who is listed at 5 feet 10 and 197 pounds, is a two-year starter who had 60 tackles (two for loss), two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in 12 games in 2014.
“I’m physical — I can definitely say I’m not afraid of anybody,” Nelson said. “I can play fast, (I’m) versatile, can play any coverage you ask me. I even have some finesse.”
Nelson said he didn’t hear from the Chiefs during the pre-draft process, but was glad to finally hear his name called late Friday after several teams he did hear from — including Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Arizona — passed on him.
“Seeing a lot of guys go before me that I know for sure aren’t better than me, I was just super excited,” Peters said. “A guy like me, that just makes me work hard.”
The addition of Peters, and now Nelson, improves the depth at one of the Chiefs’ primary position of need, which was a common theme on a day in which the team brought in three more players who could help them immediately.
“Whenever you can improve your roster, it’s always important,” Dorsey said. “And then on top of that, when you can get players that can help you right away, that’s important as well.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489. Follow him on Twitter at @TerezPaylor.