Two days ago, the Athletic posted an article ranking the 2018 NFL Draft class, seeing how each draft pick produced after being three years in the league (this is a paid article; unless you’re a subscriber, you can’t browse it). You can see the Ravens being in first place, and there is no surprise there. They drafted former MVP Lamar Jackson, two-time Pro Bowler and now Chief Orlando Brown Jr., Pro-Bowl TE Mark Andrews, and another solid TE in Hayden Hurst.
The Chiefs, however, were the bottom feeders of this list, ranking 32nd overall (according to one of my colleagues who read the article and shared it with me). After seeing the mind of Brett Veach these past couple of years, it’s hard to think it went that badly for him. To be fair, it was his first year as a GM.
With that said, it’s time to analyze and grade the Chiefs’ 2018 Draft class to see if it truly deserves to be at the bottom of all draft classes.
Round Two, Pick 46: Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
The Chiefs drafted Speaks in hopes that he would bolster the Chiefs’ defensive line, playing alongside Chris Jones. In his junior year (2017), he showed that he had talent within him with 61 total tackles (25 solo), eight tackles for a loss, seven sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. He was ranked eighth in the SEC in sacks in 2017.
In 40% of defensive snaps in 2018, Speaks had 24 tackles (15 solo), three tackles for a loss, eight QB hits, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. Speaks also only started four games. He didn’t play at all in 2019 as he was on IR and was suspended on Dec. 6th, 2019, for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Speaks only played 16 games with the Chiefs overall.
The Chiefs, coincidently, didn’t bring him back on the roster. He has bounced around from the Raiders to the Cowboys and, most recently, the Giants. However, Speaks’ time with the Giants was short-lived as he was cut on May 14, 2021.
This isn’t a career you would expect from a second round pick, and was practically a bust. Easy grade here.
Pick Grade: F
Round Three, Pick 75: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.
Coming out of Florida St, Nnadi was also drafted to bolster the defensive line, hoping to make a below-average Chiefs’ defense line (outside of Jones) a bit stronger. Nnadi had a solid senior year, attributing to 53 total tackles (22 solo), ten tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble.
Nnadi has been worth the third-round pick. He has only missed one game his entire career and has been a starter for 42 games. He has posted 130 combined tackles (58 solo), three tackles for a loss, two QB hits, a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception. He has been a solid starter that has plug-in rushing lanes and has helped the pass rush from time to time.
Nnadi also played a good role in securing the Chiefs’ 2019/20 Super Bowl ring. I’d say that isn’t half bad for three years in the league.
Pick Grade: B-
Round Three, Pick 100: Dorian O’Daniel, OLB, Clemson
With a need for depth at outside linebacker, the Chiefs selected Dorian O’Daniel in the third round. O’Daniel had a fanatical 2017 season in Clemson with 88 total tackles (51 solo), 11.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, two interceptions that turned into two pick-sixes, five pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble. He ranked second in the NCAA in interception return touchdowns and first in the ACC.
In 2018, he had a below-average season; in 26% of total defensive snaps, he had 34 total tackles (21 solo), two tackles for a loss, one QB hit, one fumble recovery, and one pass deflection. These past two years, he hasn’t been seen on the defensive side that often; in 2019 and 2020, he saw one percent of defensive snaps.
While that may be true, he has been a solid player on special teams, which is why he’s still on the team to this day. He also aided in securing the team’s 2019/20 Super Bowl ring.
Round Four, Pick 124: Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
With the need for safety depth, the Chiefs selected Armani Watts in the fourth round. He had a great senior year, totaling 87 total tackles (58 solo), ten tackles for a loss, four interceptions, five passes deflected, and three forced fumbles. His four interceptions landed him in third place among the entire SEC.
While his skills showed out in college, it didn’t really pan out in the NFL. He has only started one game in three years in the NFL, totaling a lackluster 39 tackles, two pass deflections, no interceptions. He also hasn’t been that great in coverage; in his NFL career, he has allowed ten catches on 14 passes thrown his way, totaling 110 total yards (11 yards per catch), and two touchdowns (all TDs were in 2020) along with a 138.5 passer rating when thrown his way.
While he did help win a Super Bowl, his job is now in jeopardy. He might not make final cuts once the regular season starts.
Round Six, Pick 196: Tremon Smith, DB, Central Arkansas
In looking for some depth at cornerback, the Chiefs used a sixth-round pick to draft Tremon Smith out of Central Arkansas. Not much is stated about his career totals, but he did have 41 tackles and five interceptions in 2017; he had 15 career interceptions in college.
Tremon Smith was moved to and primarily utilized as a kick returner in his rookie season. In 2018, he returned 33 kicks for 886 yards, with his longest return being 97 yards; he averaged 26.8 yards per return. Due to his impressive return prowess, he was named to the 2018 NFL All-Rookie Team as a kick returner. It looked like he had a solid career heading his way in KC.
Sadly, he didn’t. The Chiefs tried to make him a running back in the preseason, but it didn’t work out. On September 14th, 2019, he was waived by the Chiefs. Since then, he has played on the Packers, Eagles (short practice squad stint), Colts, and most previously, he signed to the Texans on a one-year, $1.13 million deal.
Hopefully, he can turn his career around in Houston. In terms of this pick, I would’ve graded him higher if the Chiefs didn’t let him go after one season.
Round Six, Pick 198: Kahlil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee
The Chiefs drafted Kahlil McKenzie with the intent to move him into the interior offensive line as a guard. That didn’t pan out too well, and on August 31st, 2019, he was waived by the Chiefs, not playing a single game with them.
He has since then bounced all over the place from the Seahawks to the XFL with the Los Angeles Wildcats to the Seahawks again, and finally, ended with him being a member of the Bengals. He has played seven total games with the Bengals, attributing to eight total tackles (four solo) and one tackle for a loss.
Looking back at this draft, the Chiefs drafted (in order) a bust, a solid defensive starter, a solid special teamer, a safety that’ll probably be cut before Week 1, a solid kick returner that left too early, and a nose tackle that didn’t work out at all.
Was this draft bad? Yes, it was pretty bad. Did it deserve to be ranked 32nd after analyzing it deeply? I’d say it’s arguable, but it definitely in the bottom three. Besides two players, everything other pick didn’t prosper into good value.
Do you think this draft deserved to be ranked 32nd? Leave a reply down below!
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