Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN's premier draft analyst, made two selections on behalf of the Kansas City Chiefs in his latest 2021 NFL mock draft, and both selections make a ton of sense for the Chiefs.
The hesitance in the headline stems from the fact that — generally speaking — I'm left unimpressed by most non-Kansas City-based mock drafters when they choose for the Chiefs. It's tough to fully understand a team's needs and tendencies if you're not specifically covering that organization closely, but I think Kiper did something very on-brand for Chiefs general manager Brett Veach in his latest mock.
While the Chiefs obviously need a left tackle, I've become increasingly lukewarm on the crop of players who are likely to be available at the 31st overall pick. In Kiper's mock, the draft's top tackles — Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw, Alijah Vera-Tucker (more likely a future guard) and Tevin Jenkins — went fifth, 13th, 14th, 17th and 20th, respectively. Then, with the 31st pick, he selected Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh.
Oweh was the Chiefs' first-round selection in our ninth Roughing the Kicker mock draft with Tucker Franklin and Jordan Foote at the helm, and I think he makes a lot of sense for Veach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. He could contribute as a rookie before potentially replacing Frank Clark in 2022 if Clark doesn't ultimately live up to his 2022 cap hit.
Here's what Kiper had to say about the pick:
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Jayson Oweh, OLB, Penn State
It has to be offensive tackle or edge rusher for the Chiefs here, right? The Super Bowl loss showed off some major weaknesses, even if this roster is still one of the league's best. Oweh is an interesting case because his coaches raved about his athletic traits, and he just ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at 257 pounds. That's unbelievable. Sacks aren't everything, but he didn't have any last season, and Oweh could be the first FBS defensive lineman since Dominique Easley (2014) to be selected in the first two rounds after not recording a sack in his final collegiate season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Scouts rave about his upside, but I still would have liked more production.
I'd be on board with Oweh at 31, but yes, I know, what about left tackle???
Even if the Chiefs would have selected Samuel Cosmi (who went 54th), Dillon Radunz (55th), Liam Eichenberg (58th) or Jackson Carman (62nd) with the 31st overall pick, I still would have been concerned about any of them as KC's day-one starting left tackle, entrusted with protecting Patrick Mahomes's blindside. If they don't end up with Sewell, Slater, Darrisaw or Jenkins (and at least those first three aren't happening without a massive trade-up), they'll still need to eventually call Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva or maybe even keep Eric Fisher on speed-dial to add a veteran presence to the left tackle position. And if there isn't a massive difference between the best remaining tackle at 31 and the best tackle at 63, I'd be in favor of waiting like Kiper did when he selected Stanford tackle Walker Little.
Here's what he had to say about the selection:
63. Kansas City Chiefs
Walker Little, OT, Stanford
I've been watching Little closely since he started at left tackle as a true freshman in 2017. He looked like a first-round lock after the 2018 season. Then he injured his knee in the season opener in 2019, missed all of that season and opted out of last season, which means he hasn't been on the field much. For Kansas City, this is a pick all about projection, as Little has the frame (6-foot-7) and footwork to be a future starter at tackle. Still, because he hasn't played much since 2018, it's tough to project his future.
Every tackle within striking distance of the Chiefs has a red flag somewhere in their scouting report, and for Little, it's medical. If he physically checks out and can sit behind a veteran and get his footing in the NFL for a year — or maybe even compete for the starting job with an NFL-ready vet in training camp — he could be an answer to the Chiefs' biggest question at a great value.