The Chiefs invested all nine of their draft picks this year on players at only six positions — cornerback, inside linebacker, receiver, defensive tackle, tight end and center.
All were positions where the Chiefs needed more depth and competition. But during a conference call with reporters on Sunday, ESPN draft analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. agreed that the Chiefs didn’t necessarily force those picks based on need.
“Wide receiver was their key need, and they didn’t take one at 18 or 49,” Kiper said. “They waited until the third round to take Chris Conley (of Georgia) and then the seventh round to take Da’Ron Brown (of Northern Illinois), who I thought was a really good pick.”
In all five of his mock drafts, Kiper consistently selected a receiver to the Chiefs. Instead, they selected Washington cornerback Marcus Peters in the first round and Missouri center/guard Mitch Morse in the second.
“They didn’t force need to go wide receiver,” Kiper said. “Had they forced it, they would have taken a wideout in round one, more than likely.”
On the call, McShay mentioned that his list of the Chiefs’ needs, in order, went receiver, inside linebacker, offensive line.
“Then corner would have been the fourth or fifth, and they wound up drafting two corners in the first four picks,” McShay said. “Maybe we were off on the needs a little bit … I just thought they were a little bit higher on their younger (corners), Phillip Gaines and Jamell Fleming.
“I know (cornerback) Sean Smith enters the contract season and they only had six interceptions last year, so clearly it was a need, but I didn’t think it was something that they were chasing, necessarily.”
McShay and Kiper also agreed that the 6-foot, 197-pound Peters — who was dismissed from Washington’s program after repeated clashes with the coaching staff — was a valued commodity during the first round before the Chiefs selected him 18th overall.
“I know this — there were two other teams I know of in the next 10 picks that really wanted Marcus Peters, and there was a team that went earlier (where) he was actually second on their board after the player they wound up taking,” McShay said.
“So he was a highly coveted player (who) I thought (was) the best man-to-man pure cover corner in the draft, but obviously the character issues are there, and if they’re comfortable with it, then they got a really good player at 18 overall.”
Kiper repeated the notion that Peters was a top-10 talent whose draft stock was dinged because of character concerns.
“If he didn’t get dismissed from the team, if he didn’t have his issues ... he’s going in the top 10,” Kiper said. “If Justin Gilbert’s the eighth pick last year, (Peters is) a top-10 pick. So they probably figured ’Hey, we got a highly skilled corner, and we’re picking at 18, that’s a pretty good value pick at that point.’ ”
Cornerback was a need, considering the Chiefs’ starting nickel job is up for grabs and Smith could also be facing a suspension to start the season after he recently pled guilty for DUI. The Chiefs selected Peters in the first and Oregon State’s Steven Nelson in the third to add depth to the position.
The Chiefs’ second-round pick, Morse, figures to compete at center with Eric Kush after last year’s starter, Rodney Hudson, departed via free-agency.
The Chiefs addressed another need by drafting two inside linebackers in the fourth (Ramik Wilson of Georgia) and fifth (D.J. Alexander of Oregon State) rounds. Both will have an opportunity to boost a unit that played a role in the Chiefs’ 30th-ranked run defense (based on yards per carry) in 2014.
Conley and Brown, as Kiper noted, will add some depth to a wide-receiver position that failed to record a single touchdown all season.
Illinois State tight end James O’Shaughnessy will have an opportunity to compete at a position that will be without veteran starter Anthony Fasano, who was released in February.
Southern Mississippi defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches figures to have a chance to help out at nose guard, where Dontari Poe has carried a massive workload the last two seasons.