COVID-19 has taken the joy out of the early spring sports season. It keeps sports fans watching tapes of past college and baseball games on ESPN – not much thrill at the end of the games.
It is time to focus on something else for a little while to take our minds off of the pandemic. The NFL draft will still take place April 23-25. It will not be held in Las Vegas as planned but will revert to electronics for communication.
The NFL draft has become a fan favorite. It may be the only live sporting event to air for at least for the short-term. It will give fans a positive direction.
The Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs, as of now, have five picks in this draft, starting with the final selection of the first round, 32nd overall. The Chiefs have a lot of work to do with those five picks while trying to develop salary cap room for the players on the present squad and the money needed to sign the draft choices.
Brett Veach has done a great job during his tenure as general manager for the Chiefs. He has worked miracles with very little salary cap room. The team has already lost solid contributors like cornerback Kendall Fuller, offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and tight end Blake Bell. Veach and his staff are working hard to be creative in an attempt to retain the main core of players who brought the championship to Kansas City.
The restructuring of edge rusher Frank Clark’s contract has helped to keep key players. They needed to do the same to keep wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and it appears they have done that.
It was smart to sign two veteran players, defensive tackle Mike Pennel and fullback Anthony Sherman, to one-year deals. It was also positive to sign veteran offensive lineman Mike Remmer after the loss of Cam Erving.
Hopefully the team can look forward to the return of defensive ends Alex Okafor and Breeland Speaks for help up front. Former New York Giant Antonio Hamilton should provide more depth in the secondary. The signing of backup quarterback Chad Henne to a two-year deal and XFL standout quarterback Jordan Ta’amu give a positive look as backups to Patrick Mahomes.
The league average at this time for the salary cap room is $20.4 million. The Chiefs had the least amount of cap room in the league with only $550,000, but it appears the Watkins deal will free up about $5 million.
A lot will be happening between now and draft time for the Chiefs. The team still needs to not miss with their five draft choices this year.
Most mock draft gurus predict the Chiefs will surprise everyone with an offensive guy pick early in the draft. A name that keeps coming up as the team’s first pick is Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Another hot topic is about the tight end position. In nearly every Andy Reid draft a versatile offensive lineman is a possibility.
Hopefully, the team will try to get another young corner for the defensive side of the ball. A young safety also would be a good pick-up with the ACL injury suffered by star rookie safety Juan Thornhill at the end of the season. If Thornhill can play right away, as well as his All-Pro teammate Tyrann Mathieu, a rookie safety could play on special teams and learn from two great players in front of him during the course of the year.
The Chiefs are good in the kicking game with solid performers in all areas.
The one position that is still not discussed much is linebacker. If the Chiefs have one big weakness it is there. Reggie Ragland is a good run stopper but cannot cover the pass, but is gone after signing with Detroit. Anthony Hitchens is up and down. Ben Niemann is a special teams player and a third down cover guy. Damien Wilson is solid. Dorian O’Daniel can run and cover the pass and is a great special teams player, but is weak when teams run at him. If a young linebacker is available in the draft, he would be a good late round pick.
It feels good to discuss something other than COVID-19. As we follow guidelines from the medical profession we can begin to focus on a positive outcome for the Chiefs in the draft and look forward to the upcoming season. Stay safe!
• The quote of the week comes from former heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson: “A dream is a seed which with hard work and discipline will grow; faith in God, which in turn will give you faith in yourself, will bear fruit.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.