Red Zone

ESPN’s Todd McShay has Chiefs drafting a running back; look for The Star’s mock draft this week

Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. AP

At least one prominent draft analyst thinks the Chiefs will address the running back position in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

ESPN’s Todd McShay released his third draft projection Wednesday, and he predicted the Chiefs — who released franchise career leading rusher Jamaal Charles — will select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara with the 27th overall pick.

“Kamara is a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s scheme,” McShay wrote. “He runs with great determination/physicality, and he created a ton of yards on his own at Tennessee, which you always look for in running backs. Plus, he’s more than capable of contributing in the passing game.”

The Chiefs finished 15th in the NFL in rushing last season, and finished tied for first with five rushes of 40 yards and seventh with 12 rushes over 20 yards. But some of those runs were by receiver Tyreek Hill, and there’s a sense the Chiefs need to add to a backfield that already includes a grinder in starter Spencer Ware and a receiving back in Charcandrick West.

So that was probably McShay’s thinking in going with Kamara, who checks in at 5 feet 10 and 214 pounds and declared after a junior season in which he helped the Vols in a timeshare role. He only rushed 103 times for 596 yards and nine touchdowns, but he also caught 40 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns.

Personally, I’m not sure Kamara tested well enough to entice the Chiefs at No. 27. Kamara posted a 39 1/2-inch vertical and a 131-inch broad jump (which were among the best at his position) at the combine, but he also ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, which only ranked 14th among all backs in attendance.

Here’s why that matters, guys: This regime believes in selecting premium positions in the first round like corner, pass rusher, left tackle and yes, quarterback. For the Chiefs to go outside of that formula, I believe a player at another position would need to have a combination of special tape and special athleticism.

So what do I think the Chiefs will do? Well, I’ve already dropped some hints in this blog post, but you can find out on Friday morning, when I post my first mock draft. I’m planning on four rounds of projections this year.

(FYI: In one of my four mock drafts last year, I had the Chiefs selecting Chris Jones. I missed on the Marcus Peters pick in 2015 — that surprised me because I’d heard contradictory information — but the year before, I also had the Chiefs taking Dee Ford. And yes, I know the fact I brought this up guarantees I won’t nail the pick this year.)