Now that the 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, it’s time to start thinking ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft. OK, we have plenty of time to really dive into the future, but sometimes it’s fun to look ahead and be on prospect watch.
A year ago, I went through each position group and looked at who might be a good fit for the Kansas City Chiefs. None of the players I wrote about were drafted by the Chiefs. However, Dicaprio Bootle was signed as an undrafted free agent, and since he was one of the featured players, we can call that a win.
So just know that this is for fun. Something for you to look at while thinking way too far ahead. Maybe in a year we can look back and see if I got one or two of them right. Here are the first six players in this two-part series, featuring three offensive and three defensive player groups.
Brock Purdy, Quarterback, Iowa State
6’1”, 212 lbs (Current Projection: Round 6-UDFA)
This is obviously not a position of need for the Kansas City Chiefs. Brock Purdy is one of those quarterbacks who doesn’t really do anything at an elite level but doesn’t do anything really poorly either. He can be a solid backup in the NFL. The Chiefs did just snag former SMU quarterback Shane Buechele as an undrafted free agent, so Purdy could be one of those late-round or UDFA pickups. I wouldn’t bet on the Chiefs taking him but he could be a “camp body” type of player if they are looking to deepen the QB room in 2022.
Aiden Hutchison, Defensive End, Michigan
6’6”, 270 lbs (Current Projection: Round 1)
Aiden Hutchison fills all of the requirements defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo loves to have in his edge rushers. He’s a big man that plays with no quit in him. He is always around the ball at the line of scrimmage and loves to get in on the play and create turnovers. Hutchison could learn a few more pass rush moves but he has the natural ability and size to become a dominant pass rusher with some refinement. One more year of seasoning in college with some stat-padding could push him up into the mid-first round conversation. Assuming the Chiefs are picking toward the bottom of the first round, Hutchison would be a solid addition as another Michigan defensive end to add to Spagnolo's disposal. Plus, you can never have too many young, high-quality edge rushers.
John Lovett, Running Back, Penn State
6’0”, 210 lbs (Current Projection: Rounds 5-7)
Running back is another position that isn't at the top of the Chiefs' list of needs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be the man for the foreseeable future. However, the team may need to get a second-string back in the future who can give Edwards-Helaire a break from time to time along with the possibilities of injuries. Darrel Williams is back in 2021 on a one-year contract but could be gone after that. The only other running back under contract after this upcoming season is Darwin Thompson, so adding a guy like John Lovett could be worth their while. He is a bigger back and shows good strength while running through tackles. He also has the athleticism and explosiveness to be a big-play threat. If he is the feature back at Penn State after joining their team as a grad transfer from Baylor, then his stock could rise. Right now, the Chiefs could target him in the late rounds.
Payton Wilson, Linebacker, North Carolina State
6’4”, 225 lbs (Current Projection: Rounds 1-3)
Payton Wilson had a fantastic 2020 season, leading the ACC with 108 tackles. He is the kind of linebacker that can play anywhere on the field. He's really good against the run and can ease back into coverage when needed. Assuming Ben Niemann won’t be in Kansas City after the 2021 season, the Chiefs may once again opt to take a linebacker in the draft and Wilson would be a fine addition to this young linebacker group. Would the Chiefs take a linebacker in the second round for a third straight season? Unlikely, but if they see a need, Veach won’t be afraid to fill it.
Frank Ladson Jr., Wide Receiver, Clemson
6’3”, 205 lbs (Current Projection: Round 2)
Could the Chiefs take wide receivers from Clemson in back-to-back drafts? It certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea. Frank Ladson Jr. typically lines up on the outside but can line up in the slot if necessary to really create a mismatch. He’s a big guy who makes all of the tough catches. He’s also shown to be a willing blocker downfield. Assuming Demarcus Robinson won’t be back on another one-year deal going into 2022 and with the uncertainty of Mecole Hardman's long-term situation, Ladson would be a fantastic addition to the WR room and would immediately create competition at the position for a starting spot. Ladson’s teammate, Justyn Ross, is projected to be taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, so it will be interesting to see how they play out their final seasons at Clemson and how high their draft stocks will rise.
Mykael Wright, Cornerback, Oregon
5’11”, 182 lbs (Current Projection: Rounds 3-4)
Mykael Wright was a starting cornerback and kick returner for the Oregon Ducks. He is a playmaker with a knack for finding the ball and jumping routes. He’s not afraid to make the tackle and go up and hit someone at the line of scrimmage. He has the speed to be able to keep up at the next level as well. Wright's draft stock could really rise with another good collegiate season as he could be the Ducks' featured cornerback. With so many of Oregon's secondary players getting taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, there will be a lot of eyes on Wright heading into this season.
These are just a few players who the Chiefs could target in the 2022 NFL Draft at those position groups. We'll dive into the other positional groups next week in part two.