NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock has not released his first mock draft yet, but with the NFL Combine set to begin on Wednesday, he already has a very clear idea of what the Chiefs might focus on in the first round.
And the position, really, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to a team that went the entire 2014 season without recording a single touchdown catch by a wide receiver.
“First and foremost, I think you have to talk wide receiver when you’re talking Kansas City,” Mayock said. “So when you’re sitting there at No. 18, you kind of go OK, which wide receiver might we get? Oakland could probably take a wide receiver at four. St. Louis (10) and Cleveland (12) are potential wide receiver picks and maybe even San Francisco (15).
“So at 18, you’re probably looking at the second, third or fourth wideout and there’s some really good football players there.”
Mayock, who recently released his position rankings, believes the consensus top two receivers — Kevin White of West Virginia and Amari Cooper of Alabama — will probably be long gone before the Chiefs’ pick.
But that might not be the case forLouisville’s DeVante Parker, who is behind Cooper and White but remains a consensus top-20 pick, according to Mayock.
Parker, whose ability to make tough, contested catches downfield is probably his best quality, missed seven games this season with a broken bone in his foot but still caught 43 passes for 855 yards and five touchdowns in only six games.
“I think if DeVante Parker is there, they sprint to the podium,” Mayock said, before mentioning his sole concern about Parker. “I want to see what his speed is.”
After Parker, Mayock said there is no shortage of receivers, though they all have question marks. He specifically mentioned two bigger options at No. 18, and one of them is familiar to Missouri fans.
“Dorial Green-Beckham is kind of a wild card in this draft,” Mayock said. “He’s 6-6, 230 and probably runs a 4.4 40.”
Mayock, however, added that Green-Beckham is as gifted as anyone in this class, “but you better do your homework off the field” due to his noted off-field issues.
Mayock also mentioned Devin Funchess of Michigan, who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds, as an option at No. 18. Funchess, a converted tight end, caught 62 passes for 733 yards and four touchdowns as a junior this season at Michigan but needs to become more consistent catching the football.
Other receivers who could be in the mix in the late first or second include Jaelen Strong of Arizona State, Breshad Perriman of Central Florida, Devin Smith of Ohio State, Phillip Dorsett of Miami (Fla.) and Sammie Coates of Auburn, with the latter three all expected to burn the track this week in the 40-yard dash.
“All three of them are going to run 4.35 or better,” Mayock said.
Mayock noted that receiver, however, isn’t the only position the Chiefs might attack in the first round. The Chiefs’ offensive line struggled last season, and there could be some value there at the 18, even if his top offensive lineman — Iowa tackle/guard Brandon Scherff, a nasty run blocker — is off the board at that point.
“(Scherff’s) going to be long gone,” Mayock said. “At tackle, you’re looking at three or four guys — T.J. Clemmings at Pitt, whose upside is unbelievable, but he’s only played right tackle for two years, and he’s got some technique issues.
“I think Andrus Peat (Stanford) and La’El Collins (LSU) are also guys that can be available at that position.”
Mayock was also asked about inside linebacker, where star veteran Derrick Johnson was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.
“I think it’s probably a little early for inside linebacker,” Mayock said. “I already mentioned (TCU’s) Paul Dawson, (Mississippi State’s) Benardrick McKinney, (Miami of Florida’s) Denzel Perryman, those guys will probably be second-round picks. Maybe one of them will sneak into the first round.”