Apr. 29—At long last, the NFL Draft arrives Thursday, an event that's mocked, forecast and predicted perhaps more often than the Super Bowl.
The brightest minds in football will come to different conclusions, use different strategies and prioritize different attributes. The what makes the draft unique, right?
The Chiefs' plan is rather simple: best player available.
"Other than quarterback," Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. "I think everything's on the table."
The Chiefs have used free agency and trades to put themselves in this situation — to focus on the talent rather than the situation.
And their own history drives the strategy, by the way. The Chiefs lost the Super Bowl for a number of reasons, but none more glaring than the problems up front. But the five-man unit they used in the championship game was not the one that had opened the season, not the one they'd ever planned to used in a game of that magnitude. Injuries necessitated those moves. One year earlier, it was the defensive line ravaged by injuries.
"I don't think you can ever go into the draft thinking you're good at a position — because it only takes a few weeks' worth of injuries at the same position to be deficient, and that happens really quickly in this league," Veach said.
And so when the Chiefs are on the clock over the next three days, they stay disciplined to their draft board — at least for the most part. They will consider position when a couple of players on their board are separated by only a few rungs, and one player might fill a more urgent need than the other. We keep that in mind for this final prediction on how the Chiefs' first day of picks will unfold.
As of now, they will sit out Thursday, absent the first-round pick they traded to the Ravens in exchange for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Their work instead is slated to begin Friday with a pair of second-round picks — Nos. 58 and 63 overall.
Here's one final prediction of where they might go with those two picks.
No. 58 overall: Jabril Cox, linebacker, LSU (6-3, 230)
You might recognize the name.
Cox was a multi-sport star at Raytown South High School, where he actually played quarterback and played it well enough to attract college interest at the position. He ultimately focused full-time on linebacker at North Dakota State and then moved to LSU as a grad transfer last season, picking the Tigers over interest from dozens of other schools.
The competition provided a big jump, but he held his own. In fact, coaches there deemed him such a good fit that they immediately named him a team captain.
Cox's strengths overlap with the Chiefs' weaknesses. His speed and athleticism are best showcased in coverage — both man-to-man and zone. In 10 games at LSU, he had three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
No. 63 overall: Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma (6-3, 250)
There's no shortage of edge rushers in this year's draft class, which stands to push down some talented defensive ends and benefit a team in need of one.
Like, say, the Chiefs.
Perkins would be a good fit opposite Frank Clark on the defensive line. He's quick off the line of scrimmage and has a prove in college he can get to the quarterback. He had 10 1/2 tackles for loss (5 1/2 sacks) in just six starts in 2020. He's effective against the run, too, and setting the edge is a key attribute in Steve Spagnuolo's defense. That's a reason Clark was brought to Kansas City.
Perkins was suspended for six games — missing Oklahoma's playoff game in 2019 and the first five contests in 2020 — which came reportedly the result of a failed drug test. The Chiefs have undoubtedly done their homework there.
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