In six recent mocks of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs were slotted with six different players at six different positions with the No. 31 overall pick, kicking off draft season with one early certainty: the Chiefs could go in a lot of different directions with their first-round selection.
Here are the six first-round draft picks for today's mock draft roundup, followed by my thoughts on why the move would or wouldn't make sense for KC at No. 31 in light of their current roster and offseason options.
Tucker Franklin and Jordan Foote, Arrowhead Report
Pick 31: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
I know not changing our first overall pick from our first mock draft isn't sexy, but Jalen Mayfield was our best pick available. While other players at other positions were certainly enticing, Mayfield was the safest pick. I'm not yet sold on taking Jayson Oweh at No. 31 because the state of the tackle board in the second round is not the best. Reaching for Teven Jenkins would be interesting, but he's more suited at guard at the next level and that's not what the Chiefs need. All that being said, while Mayfield might be safe, it's certainly not bad.
I'm biased in favor of our own crew here, but taking a tackle in the first round makes all the sense in the world if the Chiefs like their choices by the time they're on the clock. With uncertain futures for both left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, both dealing with unknown recovery times for serious injuries, it's easy to argue that tackle will be KC's biggest need this offseason, barring some good news from Fisher and Schwartz.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com
Pick 31: Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
Dickerson, who's recovering from an ACL tear, comes with durability concerns, but the Chiefs are in position to make this type of bet on the best interior O-lineman in the draft.
The aforementioned Jordan Foote has already given us the goods on Dickerson in his scouting report on the Alabama center, and he liked Dickerson better in the second round than in the first. In terms of the Chiefs' offensive line, I'm not confident that center will be KC's top priority. Austin Reiter isn't a top-10 center, but he was respectable throughout 2020 and has a command of the offense with Patrick Mahomes behind him. Daniel Kilgore also played admirably in relief for Reiter in the middle of the year. Reiter and Kilgore are both set to hit free agency, but I expect KC and Reiter to both see the advantages of sticking together for another year.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Pick 31: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Andy Reid loves having a 4x100 meter relay team on the perimeter. Toney would step in to replace pending free agent Sammy Watkins opposite Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman in the lineup.
Another member of Foote's 100 in 100 class, Toney doesn't seem to project out as the Sammy Watkins replacement Brooks suggests here. Even if he was, it's hard to expect a rookie wide receiver to step immediately into a major role in the Chiefs' offense. Even if the Chiefs take a receiver highly, don't count out a Watkins return just yet.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
Pick 31: Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Adept in press-man and zone coverages, Newsome is a long outside corner. He has the ability to tilt contested catches in his favor on both short and deep passes.
The Chiefs' cornerback depth chart may end up being — for the first time in several years — under-discussed this offseason. With the combination of Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward and rookie L'Jarius Sneed, the Chiefs' corners really hit their stride late in the 2020 season. However, with Breeland likely to get serious offers as a free agent, the Chiefs' cornerback need may depend on how much the team trusts soon-to-be-third-year corner Rashad Fenton and former first-round pick DeAndre Baker, who suffered a broken leg in Week 17. KC has had success finding gems outside of the top rounds of the draft, so I won't bet on a corner at 31, but it's a position that bears watching.
Chad Reuter, NFL.com
Pick 31: Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest
Free agency could leave a large hole in the Chiefs' defensive line. Basham's strength and length make him a nice replacement for whichever veteran (Tanoh Kpassagnon, Alex Okafor and/or Taco Charlton) does not return.
With Kpassagnon, Okafor and Charlton all set to hit the open market (and with none of them having particularly superb seasons in 2020), EDGE is a legitimate position of need for the 2021 Chiefs. With Frank Clark's massive contract on the other side of the line and Chris Jones in the middle of it, KC will need to reload the pass-rushers more cheaply from here on out.
Jon Ledyard, Pewter Report
Pick 31: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
The Chiefs are one of the most blitz-happy teams in the NFL, and adding a threat like Collins to their front seven will make them even more deadly. There’s the potential for a hulking linebacker like Collins to play on the edge at times too, but where the Chiefs really need him is right in the middle of their defense on the second level, where their linebackers have been underachieving for years. If Collins can bring the splash plays (four sacks, four picks in 2020) he provided at Tulsa, the Chiefs defense will be noticeably improved in 2021.
The logic laid out for Collins here is understandable, but I'd be stunned if the Chiefs took a linebacker in the first two rounds of the draft. Last year, Kansas City added Willie Gay Jr. in the second round, and though he never gained significant playing time before being injured in Week 17, his speed popped off the screen. With another offseason working with Steve Spagnuolo, Gay figures to be a major part of the defense next year alongside veteran linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who essentially quarterbacks the defense despite generally middling production in his time in Kansas City. The Chiefs certainly could use an upgrade over Ben Niemann and Damien Wilson, but with Spagnuolo's tendency to run nickel and dime packages with fewer linebackers on the field, Hitchens and Gay are the likely solutions for 2021.