- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Chiefs should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Two weeks ahead of the NFL draft, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Cornerback
Bob Sutton blitzed less than any defensive coordinator in football the last few years and was fired after the playoffs. Replacing him is Andy Reid’s old friend Steve Spagnuolo, one of the game’s most aggressive blitzers. Spagnuolo may soon learn that one reason Sutton didn’t blitz was Kansas City’s corners can’t all be trusted in iso coverage. But while most blitzes involve man coverage with one deep safety, Spagnuolo, at least when we last saw him (2017 with the Giants), employs a lot of two-deep, matchup zone coverages behind his blitzes. That puts slightly less demand on a corner. Still, the Chiefs would be wise to find someone who can immediately push intriguing-but-still-unknown undrafted second-year corner Charvarius Ward, or who can compete with the newly acquired Bashaud Breeland (historically an up-and-down player).
Hidden Need: Edge Rusher
Teams tell you how they really feel about a player by the moves they make. But how do we interpret Kansas City’s in regards to Breeland Speaks and Tanoh Kpassagnon? They were drafted in the second round in 2018 and 2017 respectively, almost certainly with the Chiefs realizing the team could well be moving on from Justin Houston and Dee Ford by 2019 (which they have). That shows confidence in Speaks and Kpassagnon. But if it were a rich confidence, wouldn’t Speaks have played more than just 23.5% of the snaps a game when Houston and Ford were both healthy. And wouldn’t Kpassagnon have averaged more than 8.5 snaps per game for the year? Houston and Ford both have injury history—they’re players you’d want to rotate out regularly. When Speaks has played, he has looked mildly lethargic. Kpassagnon has shown more encouraging flashes, but doesn’t have a large enough body of work to fully evaluate. But then again, if the Chiefs weren’t genuinely optimistic about Speaks and Kpassagnon, would they have dumped Houston and especially Ford in a year where it’s Super Bowl or bust?
There’s evidence that the Chiefs believe in Speaks and Kpassagnon—and there is evidence that they don’t. But from a 30,000-foot view, there’s a rule of thumb with back-and-forth questions like this: the fact that we’re even exploring these questions suggests things aren’t sound with Speaks and Kpassagnon. The Chiefs need more options off the edge. They added ex-Saint Alex Okafor and acquired Emmanuel Ogbah from Cleveland, but at least one more is needed.
Also Looking For: Defensive Line
Poor run defense has plagued Kansas City for years. Correct that by finding more depth (and, ideally, better talent) up front.
Who They Can Get
It's not a top-heavy cornerback class, but it is fairly deep. Georgia's Deandre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy, both undersized cover artists, could make it to the end of Round 1, and if the Chiefs would prefer a big press corner Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson or Clemson's Trayvon Mullen are options. If he's still on the board, Clemson's Clelin Ferrell could fill an edge spot and upgrade the run defense.
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