In his first two drafts with the Kansas City Chiefs, general manager John Dorsey had to work around not having second-round picks, which he had sent to San Francisco in a trade for quarterback Alex Smith.
This year, he'll be working without a third-round choice.
The Chiefs were docked the pick as part of the penalties handed down by the NFL for tampering with free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who ultimately signed with Kansas City prior to last season. They were also hit with a series of fines, but it's the loss of draft picks, including a sixth-rounder next year, that really hurt.
"It's going to make sure that we try to hit those picks as we go along," Dorsey said of his remaining choices. "Of course it will change a few things. You have to make sure that the diligent work you do is as good of work as you can possibly do, and that's what we're going to do."
The Chiefs appealed the penalties and successfully got their fine reduced. But the loss of draft picks, the most crippling sanctions ever handed down in a tampering case, were upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
That third-round pick this year would have come in handy considering all the holes the Chiefs must fill.
Even though they return many of their top playmakers from last year's playoff team, they lost several to injury, retirement and free agency. Star linebacker Justin Houston could miss some or most of the season after having his ACL repaired this offseason. Safety Husain Abdullah and defensive tackle Mike Devito called it a career. Top cornerback Sean Smith and backup safety Tyvon Branch were among those who signed elsewhere.
The Chiefs are still in need of a wide receiver to take the pressure off Maclin. They could use some bodies to shore up the secondary, too. Pass rushers are always at a premium, and depth on the offensive line would help.
"I mean, it looks like it's a deep draft to me," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who has been sidelined by his own knee replacement surgery. "It seems just that there are some good football players in this draft at a lot of positions, which that's not always the case. This one here feels pretty healthy though."
With that in mind, here are a few things to watch as the Chiefs get ready to draft:
FIRST THING'S FIRST: The Chiefs, who have the No. 28 overall pick, used their first-rounder last year on cornerback Marcus Peters – the league's defensive rookie of the year – and a third-round choice on nickel defender Steven Nelson. Might they target the position again? Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III probably won't be around that late in the first round, but Ohio State coverage ace Eli Apple would be a good fit.
WIDE RECEIVER DEPTH: There are few pass-catching standouts in this year's class, which means Kansas City could find value in the second round. Someone like Ohio State's Braxton Miller could stretch the field, while Tyler Boyd of Pittsburgh would provide the kind of big body that could help out in the red zone.
WHAT ABOUT SAFETY: The Chiefs are moving Jamell Fleming from cornerback to safety, but he may not be able to cover the loss of Abdullah and Branch alone. Finding a safety to complement Eric Berry would be ideal, but there are several teams looking for safety help. Will someone worthwhile be available late?
DEFENSIVE LINE: The Chiefs brought back Jaye Howard in free agency, and that took a lot of the pressure off drafting a defensive tackle early. But the loss of DeVito, one of the veteran leaders in the defensive line room, makes finding a developmental prospect in the later rounds a good bet.
STILL WITH SEVEN: Even after losing their third-round choice, the Chiefs still have seven picks; they picked up an extra fifth-rounder from Seattle for safety Kelcie McCray. Those later rounds have been fruitful for Kansas City under Dorsey, too. The GM selected backup quarterback Aaron Murray and offensive linemen Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the fifth round or later the past couple years.