Back for another edition of studs or duds, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach may have felt more comfortable heading into his second NFL draft. After taking all defensive players in his first draft as GM, this draft was more balanced for Veach. Would the players he took be a better fit for the team than the 2018 draft class? Let’s take a look at it.
Round one: No pick
The Chiefs traded the 29th pick to the Seattle Seahawks for defensive end Frank Clark. The Seahawks ended up using that pick to take a younger defensive end named L.J. Collier. In two seasons, Collier has 18 total tackles and three sacks for the Seahawks. Meanwhile, Frank Clark has contributed 62 tackles and 14 sacks over the past two seasons for the Chiefs. There wouldn’t have been a better defensive end who could come in and make an immediate impact like Clark, and the Chiefs jumped at the opportunity. In my opinion, it was well worth the trade to get Clark for their Super Bowl run.
Round 2, Pick 56 (from Patriots via Rams): Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
This is a tough one. Mecole Hardman definitely hasn’t been a dud, and while his production looked pretty good during his rookie season — both as a receiver and a return specialist — he dipped a bit his second year in the league. One thing that will always weigh on the mind of Chiefs fans is knowing the organization passed on DK Metcalf, who has grown into a top-10 wide receiver in the league this past year. I’ll label Hardman as a studly dud. He has one more year to really break out before he could be on the chopping block.
Round 2, Pick 63: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Juan Thornhill has been a stud. After his rookie year, he was a PFWA All-Rookie team selection. An ACL injury in Week 17 of his first season hindered his ability to grow a lot on the field in his sophomore season, but by the end of the year, he looked like the Thornhill everyone was hoping to see. This man could be a staple in the Chiefs' secondary for a long time.
Round 3, Pick 85 (from Seahawks): Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
Khalen Saunders has been a dud thus far in his career. He has been inactive more often than not, which isn’t a good sign. In 2020, Saunders was injured then never won his job back from undrafted free agent rookie defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton. The Chiefs recently brought in another defensive tackle, Jarran Reed, during the 2021 free agency period, which could be another sign as to how management feels about Saunders taking his game to the next level. He will likely only be used as a depth piece as long as he’s in Kansas City.
Round 4: No Pick
Round 5: No Pick
Round 6, Pick 203: Rashad Fenton, CB, South Carolina
Considering where he was drafted and what he’s been able to do as a rotational piece in the secondary, Rashad Fenton is a stud in my book. He will never be an All-Pro, but he will continue to be a solid depth piece for the Chiefs defense.
Round 6, Pick 216: Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State
Unfortunately, Darwin Thompson has been a dud. We all love a good underdog story, but Thompson hasn’t been able to carve out a role in the offense. He'll likely always be teetering between the fourth running back/special teams player and practice squad as long as he's in Kansas City.
Round 7, Pick 218 (from San Francisco): Nick Allegretti, IOL, Illinois
Nick Allegretti still has a chance to rise up the depth chart. He rarely saw any action his rookie year but was thrust into a starting role his sophomore season between COVID-19 opt-outs and injuries to players ahead of him in the pecking order. He held his own and may have carved a role out for himself as a future Chief. He could challenge for the starting center spot this year, but if not, he will be a flexible piece at either guard or center position. Allegretti is a good guy to have on the squad. After his output last season, I’m calling him a stud.
While it is hard to really nail down studs and duds from this draft class, as they’ve only been in the league for two years, it seems like this group of players as a whole has a much higher ceiling than the 2018 class, which is good news for Brett Veach and the Chiefs moving forward.