The Kansas City Chiefs spent most of the first two days of the NFL draft stockpiling picks, but still found time to fill two of their biggest needs by grabbing a defensive tackle and cornerback.
The Chiefs took Mississippi State run-stuffer Chris Jones with the sixth pick of the second round on Friday night, then traded their other second-round pick to Tampa Bay. They received a third-round choice and two more picks, and used the third-rounder on Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey began the draft Thursday night by sending a first-round selection to San Francisco for the No. 37 overall pick, plus selections in the fourth and sixth rounds. Now, they have three fourth-round picks and two choices each in the fifth and sixth rounds Saturday.
"Every draft is a little different that way," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "(Dorsey) is working to gain picks here. He wanted to get a couple picks out of this thing. I think he maneuvered pretty well and kind of parked it in the third round, and I look forward to tomorrow. We have a whole load of them."
As for Jones, the Chiefs did not invite him for a visit, making his selection a surprise.
"I didn't think there was a chance I'd ever go to the Chiefs," he said. "It was one of the last teams on my mind. But right now I'm very excited. A lot of mixed emotions going through my mind."
The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Jones made his mark as a run-stuffing tackle for the Bulldogs, but he's also athletic enough to help at defensive end. He started all 13 games last season, making 44 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks, which led him to declare for the draft with a year of eligibility remaining.
Kansas City had been eyeing help along the defensive line, but chose to move out of the first round – and miss on tackles Robert Nkemdiche and Vernon Butler – with the hope Jones would be around. Now, he should provide depth after the retirement of veteran Mike DeVito and with Allen Bailey's injury history.
Jones also gives Kansas City some bargaining leverage — two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe, a former first-round pick, has a contract that expires after the upcoming season.
"He's going to be a nice mix into our defensive line," Reid said. "We felt like he was the best on our board at that time, felt very comfortable with him."
After the Chiefs sent the No. 59 overall choice to Tampa Bay, they used their new third-round pick on Russell, who should compete for a starting spot alongside defensive rookie of the year Marcus Peters.
The Chiefs lost veteran Sean Smith in free agency. Phillip Gaines is the presumptive starter, but he is coming off an ACL injury. Steven Nelson played nickel last year and could factor into the race.
"I didn't know what team I was going to go to, then when my family saw the team was Kansas City, they went crazy," Russell said. "They showed a lot of interest at my pro day but not after that."
Russell was a standout freshman for the Fighting Irish and started all 13 games as a sophomore, but he missed the following season for violating the school's honor code. He owned up to his mistakes and went to a junior college rather than transferring, then returned to Notre Dame in good academic standing.
Now, he's close to becoming the first from his family to graduate from college.
"Obviously there was a time I was stuck in a deep, dark place. You think about what you did wrong, how it will affect your future," he said. "I made a mistake but I did everything right going forward."
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said earlier in the night that character was an important consideration in selecting players, particularly after the Thursday night saga involving Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil.
"You want to have as many high-character guys in your locker room as possible," Hunt said. "Not everybody is going to be the kind of leader that you would like, that you draft, but certainly you want the majority of your players to act like that."