It’s that time of year again, folks! The NFL draft is right around the corner, and even though the Chiefs don’t have a first-round pick (at least at the moment), that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to be gleaned from this exercise. So here it is, the first of three seven-round mocks I’ll be doing from here until the draft, which starts on April 26.
The following is my first run at projecting the Chiefs' picks.
(A quick disclaimer: This mock draft was done with the use of the draft generator at Fanspeak.com. And a quick reminder — the Chiefs don't have a first-round pick because of the trade for Patrick Mahomes last April.)
TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State (54th overall): I know, I know. “But Terez, what about the defense,” you’re probably yelling at home. Trust me, as the man who had to watch this team all of last year, I’m well in tune with how badly the defense needs reinforcements across the board. And I do think that if any of the Chiefs’ top defense targets remain on the board, general manager Brett Veach will not hesitate to either trade up to snag a top-rated cornerback or pass rusher, or simply use this pick on the defensive side of the ball. Those are scenarios I’ll cover in mocks two and three.
So for now, let’s consider what will happen if Veach can’t trade up, and all their second-round worthy targets at pass rusher and defensive back are off the board. Veach is not going to reach. Instead, he’ll believe in his evaluation and take the best player available. So in this instance, I’m taking Mike Gesicki, the tight end from Penn State.
For this mock, I’m picking Gesicki over the likes of Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison, Georgia outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter and Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver (and others I like) because Gesicki, in short, is awesome. I love this guy. He’s a big kid, at 6 feet 5 and 249 pounds, and not only did he test off the charts at the NFL combine — he ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and had a 41 1/2-inch vertical, for instance — his tape backs up his physical gifts. Gesicki is a natural pass catcher with route-running savvy and Pro Bowl upside. He’s not much of a blocker, and has a long way to go to even be adequate in that category, but the Chiefs would be lucky if he’s still on the board at this point.
And, yes, I know the Chiefs still have Travis Kelce, and, yes, Travis Kelce is only 29 years old. But remember, the entire tenure of Andy Reid and Veach will ultimately come down to whether Patrick Mahomes develops into a star. The Chiefs’ brain trust has put all their eggs in the Mahomes basket, which means the Chiefs will do everything they can to make sure Mahomes reaches his immense potential. That means giving him all the weapons he could ever want — hence the huge contract the club handed to Sammy Watkins last month. Don’t think for one minute the Chiefs couldn’t find a way to use Gesicki and Kelce together. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if their two-tight end personnel grouping even became their de facto base offense. Oh yes, Reid would have fun with this.
By the way, I’d like to welcome Gesicki to the 2018 All-Juice Team (coming out April 25th!).
CB Donte Jackson, Louisiana State (78th overall): The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Jackson can fly — he runs a 4.32 40-yard dash and has natural cover skills, which is a boon in today’s pass-happy NFL. I think he’ll fall some because he’s got a really slight frame and isn’t much of a tackler. He’ll offer insurance in case David Amerson doesn’t live up to expectations as a third corner or Steven Nelson bails via free agency after the season.
OLB Kemoko Turay, Rutgers (86th overall): Justin Houston and Dee Ford will be the starters at outside linebacker this year, but each has been nicked up for the better part of two seasons. The coaches love Tanoh Kpassagnon’s raw physicality and enthusiasm, but the Chiefs better protect themselves here in case he’s a year away from fully tapping into his potential. So I’m going to grab Turay, an athletic 6-foot-5, 252-pounder who flashes a real closing burst and a good motor. He needs to be coached up, and the Chiefs would need to be sure he clears medically — he’s been banged up for the last two seasons — but if he gets cleared, I could see this guy being a monster when he gets his grown-man strength.
C Mason Cole, Michigan (122nd overall): You guys know I’m a sucker for centers who are smart/big/quick enough to play tackle in college. Well, Cole did that at Michigan the last two years. Granted, he did so out of necessity since the Wolverines have curiously struggled to develop offensive tackles the last few years, but I’m not penalizing him for this. Cole is a tough, smart dude who started every game his freshman year of high school — and God, nothing says “lineman” like that stat — and might have some plug-and-play ability any where along the three interior spots. He’s a good athlete who can run the Chiefs’ zone concepts and get out in space. He’s also aware in pass pro and plays his butt off. His technique needs work and I’d like to see him get stronger, but Cole gets the T-Rez O-Line Seal of Approval.
NT Kendrick Norton, Miami (124th overall): Norton’s not gonna make anyone’s All-Body Team – let’s just say he isn’t a chiseled 6-foot-3, 314-pound frame — he’s a strong, strong dude with long arms, big hands and legitimate run-stopping chops. He’s also got great genes — he’s the son of former Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. The Chiefs need more interior beef, and while they expect newly-signed Xavier Williams to help there, they could be in trouble at nose if Williams were to get hurt. Norton would offer short-term insurance and a cheap run-stopping option for the next four years.
FB Dmitri Flowers, Oklahoma (196th overall): The Chiefs brought back Anthony Sherman for another run at fullback, but they could also explore a younger option with positional versatility. Enter Flowers, who is 5 feet 11, 223 pounds and could help as an H-Back or runner in certain situations. Flowers has soft hands and is a solid blocker. Like this guy.
LB/S Foye Oluokun, Yale (243th overall): I like this guy as a nickel linebacker. He’s a big kid, at 6 feet, 229 pounds, but he was athletic enough to run a blazing 4.56 40-yard dash and play safety for the Bulldogs. He was also an outstanding tester in several other categories (vertical, broad jump), which tells me he’s got the kind of ability that could blossom with coaching. Throw in the fact the Chiefs brought him in for a visit, and Oluokun is someone who needs to be on your radar, folks.
CB Christian Campbell, Penn State (233rd overall): Campbell is a rangy corner (6 feet 1, 195 pounds with 33 1/2-inch arms) and better athleticism (he’s one of his position's best athletic testers) than what shows up on tape. He needs to get stronger and isn’t nearly as physical as he should be with his size, but with his plus athleticism, he could develop into a contributor if he commits himself to improving.