With every second that ticks on the clock, it’s a second closer to the 2021-22 NFL season. The Kansas City Chiefs are yet trying to run it back to Super Bowl LVI, and this time, win it for the second time in three years. Along with a spectacular offseason full signings and a trade that set the offense up for success, there was also an exciting rookie class that was chosen just last week.
Today, we’ll be breaking down my top three rookies that’ll shine from this rookie class. Hopefully, I’m right with these picks, and I’d love to see your opinions down below in the comment section. Without further ado, let’s get right into it:
3. WR, Cornell Powell
After the loss of Sammy Watkins in free agency, the Chiefs needed a solid WR2 on the right side to start the season. With free agency barring no luck, the Chiefs had to chase towards the draft; in the fifth round with the 181st pick, the Chiefs selected Cornell Powell, a 6’0″, 204-pound wide receiver from the University of Clemson. He’ll be battling out against the likes of Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson for this spot. If he wins it out, he’ll make an instant impact.
Powell had a rocky college career, as he only showed true production in his senior season (fifth year on the team). In his first four years, he caught 40 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. In his senior season, however, he showed up with 53 receptions for 882 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging well over 16 yards per catch.
He was fifth in the ACC in receiving yards and fourth in the ACC in receiving touchdowns; he was also a third-team All-ACC pick. He also had a three-game stretch where he had 100 receiving yards in each of those three games.
Powell thrives in 50/50 balls, which is something Mahomes needs this season; he can take big hits as well, showing that he rarely drops the ball. Powell has great awareness, knowing when to turn, extend his arms, etc. He has even shown to be one of the better route runners in the drafts, putting defensive backs on roller skates at times.
The only reason why he’s number three is that the WR2 isn’t utilized as much in the Chiefs’ offense. While he will see significant production from that area (if he’s chosen), most of the passes will be thrown towards either Hill, Kelce, or Helaire in the backfield. Also, we have no clue if he’ll even snag this spot yet; I don’t see him being utilized as a slot receiver, so we’ll have to wait and see.
2. C, Creed Humphrey
With him being the likely favorite to start at center for the Chiefs, a rookie that’ll likely explode next season is Creed Humphrey. Humphrey was selected in the second round with the 63rd pick in the NFL draft. He was selected to bolster an already impressive interior offensive line with Thuney and Long or Niang (whoever the Chiefs chose) right beside him (I’ve talked about him before here).
Humphrey had an outstanding career at Oklahoma; in 2445 career snaps at Oklahoma spanning from 2018-2020, he allowed zero sacks, two QB hits, and 27 QB hurries. Those zero sacks tell you he’s a pass-blocking monster that’ll protect Mahomes with absolute ease. His run blocking could improve, but it looks like he’ll be a solid rookie.
On Humphrey, he’s a durable offensive lineman, never missing a game for Oklahoma. He has shown great awareness, reading defensive schemes well, and has great vision to see those schemes as well; his high IQ helps with that as well. He can keep his feet moving no matter what, shoving defensive lineman off, and has shown he can get to that next level in time. He’ll be a great protector for the Chiefs for a long while.
1. LB, Nick Bolton
The Chiefs were in desperate need of linebacker help; with it being one of the worst areas of the Chiefs defense and roster overall, the Chiefs had to snag someone with their first pick in the draft. They selected Nick Bolton in the second round with the 58th pick. He’ll definitely be an instant impact player on this defense; whatever gets rid of Ben Niemann, the better.
In his career at Missouri, he totaled 220 total tackles (139 solos), 17.5 tackles for loss, 12 pass deflections, two interceptions, one pick-six, and a fumble recovery. His best year came in 2019 where he had 103 total tackles (74 solos, 29 assisted), 8.5 tackles for loss, a sack, his two career interceptions, seven pass deflections, and his only pick-six. He was number one in solo tackles in the SEC and third in the NCAA. His senior season was a bit of a slump, but he still managed to get 95 total tackles, eight tackles for a loss, two sacks, five pass deflections, and his lone career fumble recovery in two fewer games played (10 games to 12 in his sophomore).
Bolton is one of the best pure tacklers from this draft as shown with his stats. He can take the right angle a vast majority of the time, always being able to tackle the ball carrier at the right moment. No matter how far the ball carrier is, he’ll be able to chase him down with his speed and snag them to the ground. He can also stick with any assignments he’s given. Bolton is a bit of a liability in coverage, but that can be fixed up in due time as no one is perfect.
Bolton will be replacing Niemann for sure, which would be a major boost for this linebacking core. In Spagnuolo’s system, he’d be able to insert him a role where he’ll be able to shine. He can play either the MIKE (middle linebacker) or WILL (weak outside linebacker, usually doesn’t face off against tight ends) linebacker spots. He’ll have a great rookie season, and he could be an underdog for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
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