Kansas City Chiefs fans have to be praying the emerging 2020 team gets a chance to defend their Super Bowl championship.
General manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid did a masterful job in draft selection this year, combined with contracts signed with returning players from last year.
The team obviously will not have as much time together early in preseason and mini-camps, but it has 20 of its 22 starters back. The roster is young overall, which is particularly important if the team is able to sign defensive tackle Chris Jones and negotiate a new contract for Patrick Mahomes. Young talent helps the financial future with salary cap limits.
Also, the young 2020 draftees will not have to step in right away with most of the Super Bowl team intact. The six draft choices are all players who will add quality depth in positions of most need.
The first-round selection, LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, was a stroke of genius. He will give the offense another skilled position player in their already loaded attack. Helaire will be an excellent third down back. Andy Reid is famous for his ability and imagination in the screen game, and this new addition will be lethal in sprint draw situations. He is an excellent receiver and his main forte is operating out in space.
You can put it in the bank that teams will have to play six defensive backs when Helaire is in the game. He will stretch defenses to the max from sideline to sideline.
Great pick, but the biggest pickup came in the form of the team’s second-round pick, linebacker Willie Gay Jr. out of Mississippi State. This guy can run and cover the pass, which has been an Achilles heel for the defense for the past three seasons. Gay runs a 4.4-second 40, which means he has the tools to cover the backs out of the backfield.
Gay has had some off the field issues, but Andy Reid is a master at encouraging players to buy into the Chiefs way. This may be a better pick than Helaire as far as team needs are concerned.
The third-round pick of the TCU offensive tackle has received extremely high marks from the gurus. Lucas Niang will be able to learn from two solid and experienced tackles and will fit in nicely as a starter in a year or two. Niang has long arms and good hip flexibility – two strong characteristics for a solid future tackle.
The Chiefs added versatile athletic depth with the fourth-round pick of L’Jarius Sneed from Louisiana Tech. He can run 4.3 and he can play both cornerback and safety. An NFL team can never have enough corners or safeties. All NFL secondaries need speed.
The fifth-round selection was a defensive end from Michigan, Michael Danna. He adds youth and speed as a weapon to apply pressure to the quarterback.
The last pick in this year's draft was seventh-round choice Thakarius Keyes, a cornerback from Tulane. This was an interesting pick. The Chiefs traded back into the draft to obtain him, using a sixth-round selection next year, which says they must believe in his ability.
The recurring theme in the Chiefs’ draft choices this year was speed. The other teams in the AFC West also drafted speed. They know if they are going to beat the Chiefs they need to be able to run.
The rich did get richer in the Chiefs’ draft this year. Veach and Reid had obviously done their homework, which paid off with a home run. Veach knew full well he needed to acquire young quality talent to accommodate new contracts for Jones and Mahomes. The team can continue to be good for years with a possible dynasty, but only if Veach and Reid are able to stay one step ahead of the competition. Luck is a part of a Super Bowl victory, but you still have to have a master plan with players able to execute the plan.
Let us all hope and pray that the 2020 Chiefs will have an opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title.
• The quote of the week comes from OKC Corporation chairman of the board Cloyce Box: “Stay with the things you can do best. Too many people waste time trying to do things that they can’t do.”
– 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.