The NFL Draft will begin on April 23 and will provide sports fans with something to follow for the first time in over a month.
The draft should prove interesting for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. They will only have five draft picks, one in each of the first five rounds. They will get the last pick in the first round because they are the defending champions.
The team is also faced with very little salary cap room – less than most other NFL teams. However, Brett Veach, the Chiefs general manager may be the best in the NFL today. He has done a superior job of keeping the nucleus of last year’s championship squad.
Veach’s ability to adjust the contracts of Frank Clark and Sammy Watkins in order to make room for other team members has been amazing. Most people felt that the team would lose Watkins because his old contract would not fit the criteria of the team’s salary cap. Watkins has been hurt a lot but during the playoff run to the Super Bowl he came up huge in clutch situations. The addition of tight end Ricky Seals-Jones as the probable No. 2 tight end behind Travis Kelce will also make that position solid.
The other big one-year signing that will be extremely beneficial is that of Bashaud Breeland at left corner. This allows the team to maintain its starting defensive backfield. The backfield of Breeland and right corner Charvarius Ward as well as the two great safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill and backup safety Daniel Sorensen gave the defensive backfield a jump in ranking from 31st in 2018 to the seventh best in the NFL in 2019.
The addition of Antonio Hamilton at corner and the continued improvement of Rashad Fenton at corner and specialty teams makes the need for another corner way less important in the draft. A possible draft need would be a versatile player who could play both safety and corner. This would make the back side of the defense very tough.
The defensive front has all the main performers coming back in 2020. Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Frank Clark, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Khalen Saunders, Alex Okafor and Mike Pennel can all play. Defensive end Breeland Speaks will be back from injury to add even more depth to the solid defensive line nucleus. Linebacker may be an area of need for the team to draft a three-down player. It is the weakest position area on the team. Inside linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson improved at the end of the season.
Veach signed former Oakland Raider running back DeAndre Washington, which could prove to be a positive addition and a great pick-up. The Chiefs already have solid players at running back with Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams. If a super-talented back is available in the draft the Chiefs may add even more fire power to an already impressive offense.
The offensive line played great in 2019, but the Chiefs still struggled at times running the ball. Offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are not getting any younger. The guard position is interesting. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a stud. Andrew Wylie was a starter until he got injured and he never got back on the field. The depth chart at this time has Martinas Rankin as the starting left guard. I would bet that the team will try to pick up a young versatile lineman in this draft. Austin Reiter is a solid center.
Looking at all the different positions going into this year’s draft, Veach and his staff deserve a lot of credit for the construction of a roster with limited salary cap room. The Chiefs can go into this draft with no concerns for position needs and a green light to draft the best possible player at any position. I predict the Chiefs will draft an inside linebacker, a versatile offensive lineman, a defensive back that can play both safety and corner, and two picks of the best available athlete at any position.
• The quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll: “Some place along your life, you are going to have to function in a pressure situation and if you can learn to do it in a game where the results are not life and death, you can come to a situation where it is life and death and be better able to cope.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.