The Kansas City Chiefs entered this year’s draft at a slight disadvantage. They had traded away their first-round draft pick (pick 31) as well as their third-round pick (pick 183) to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Orlando Brown Jr. They had gained an additional second-round pick in the exchange, but were still without a single pick within the top 50.
However, with the acquisition of Orlando Brown, the Chiefs had filled their biggest team need at left tackle. He was better than any tackle prospect available at the 31st pick, with NFL experience, two trips to the pro bowl, and a fantastic track record on the left side of the line the last season.
The Chiefs are a much better team now than they were in Super Bowl 54 or Super Bowl 55, thanks in large part to the addition the Chiefs made this season on the offensive line. That, however, does not necessarily mean that the Chiefs could not use their draft picks to become even better and to fill other needs.
Despite the limited draft picks, Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager, Brett Veach, made the team much better.
Was it a perfect draft? No. Taking Nick Bolton at 58 has been fairly controversial, and rightfully so. An interior linebacker with poor acceleration, inability to play laterally, and struggles getting off blockers seem problematic. He does not get Ben Niemann off the field and likely will not see any playing time until 2022 (at the earliest) since he plays the same position as Anthony Hitchens. The Chiefs selected a linebacker in the second round of last year’s draft as well, and he barely saw 5% of defensive snaps, and I fully expect Bolton to see even less playing time.
This is especially frustrating when considering that Terrance Marshall and Jabrill Cox were both available at 58. Both of these players take bigger roles on the Chiefs’ roster immediately. Jabrill Cox becomes Frank Clark’s replacement in the next few seasons with less work and risk, while Terrance Marshall has serious potential to be an elite-level receiver.
Outside of that pick, however, the Chiefs absolutely nailed this draft.
Creed Humphrey is a beast of an interior lineman. The 2019 and 2020 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the year, two-time first-team All-Big 12, zero sacks allowed through his career in Oklahoma. He played center for Oklahoma but has practiced and taken reps at guard (notably in the senior bowl) with great success. He can either take over for Austin Blythe or slide over to the right guard and cover for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in case of opt-out (or release). He finishes the Chiefs’ offensive line rebuild and Mahomes has never been safer.
Joshua Kaindoh was the Chiefs’ first day three pick, and what a pick he is. He fell into the fourth round largely because of his recent injury problems but has amazing upside and potential for a day three pick. He has all of the physical attributes that you want in a defensive end: length, size, long arms, long strides, and heart.
However, his toolbox is in deep need of a cleaning out and restocking. If the Chiefs’ defensive coaches can teach Kaindoh a thing or two, he could be a beast in a few seasons. He seems to be the heir apparent to Frank Clark’s spot on the edge of the defensive line.
Noah Gray replaces Anthony Sherman, who retired from the Chiefs this offseason. An all-around player who has huge potential on both special teams and offense. He has receiving capabilities, but that is just the top of his toolbox. He blocks like a fullback, runs a great route, and plays tough. Gray immediately upgrades the TE2 position, but I think he is going to be used in every single position on the field and become Andy Reid and Dave Toub’s go-to guy.
Cornell Powell is the immediate, and better, replacement for Sammy Watkins. He is going to see offensive snaps on week one of the 2021 season, and I think he will be in contention for rookie of the year from that moment on. His route running is extremely underrated, his physicality will help him tremendously with a Chiefs’ offense that rarely stays on the course longer than a couple of seconds, and his knowledge and experience running Clemson’s speed option and the screen-heavy offense will appeal strongly to Andy Reid. He is built perfectly for this position and may make up for the Chiefs passing on Terrance Marshall.
Trey Smith is the final pick of the draft, but that does not necessarily mean he is the least talented player taken. Trey Smith is powerful, with the ability, and desire, to destroy any defender who gets even close to him. Three-time All-SEC first team, former number one high school recruit, Smith should have been a first-round pick. The two things that pushed him into the sixth round were his age (he is turning 24 this year) and his schematic needs. Teams will need to scheme for him, which just happens to be Andy Reid’s specialty.
This draft makes the Chiefs’ offensive line infinitely better and extremely competitive. The right guard position is now between LDT, Trey Smith, Creed Humphrey, and Kyle Long. Then the center position is Austin Blythe, Creed Humphrey, and Joe Thuney. An injury will never derail this team to the point that it did in Super Bowl 55, and Veach’s 2021 draft is the reason why.