Chiefs tackle positions of need with 2016 draft class

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Trades and a touch of controversy highlighted a wild three days of the NFL Draft for the Chiefs.

With no third-round pick to start the draft, the Chiefs traded out of the first round and secured an additional second-round pick (37th overall) from the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs then traded the second (59th overall) of the two second-round picks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Tampa Bay’s third-round pick (74th overall) and fourth-round pick (106th overall).

The flurry of trade activity was tailor-made for general manager John Dorsey, who believed the true depth of the draft fell between the second and fourth rounds.

April 29, 2016; Chicago; Mississippi State’ defensive lineman Chris Jones (left) celebrates with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 37th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

April 29, 2016; Chicago; Mississippi State’ defensive lineman Chris Jones (left) celebrates with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Kansas City Chiefs as the 37th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Chiefs totaled nine selections and came away with five defensive players and four on offense. More importantly, each pick of the draft addressed depth and boosted competition at key positions, especially defensive line, cornerback and offensive line.

Dorsey’s first four picks focused on those three position groups with the selections of Mississippi State defensive linemen Chris Jones (37th overall), Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell (74th overall), Cincinnati offensive lineman Parker Ehinger (105th overall) and Minnesota cornerback Eric Murray (106th overall).

“This is a good draft class,” Dorsey said, “and these are good people within this draft class.”

The Chiefs drafted three cornerbacks, marking the first time the team selected three defensive backs in the same draft since picking safety Eric Berry, cornerback Javier Arenas and safety Kendrick Lewis in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs pride themselves in character and make it a point to publicly state the attribute matters to the team.

Head turning, however, began with the fourth-round selection of wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who admitted during a conference call he was suspended three times during his freshman year for failed drug tests.

But any concern over Robinson’s selection paled in comparison to the controversy surrounding the fifth-round selection (165th overall) of running back/wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who was dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team in January 2015 after being charged with felony domestic violence.

Hill eventually pleaded guilty in August 2015 and received three years of probation, and the Chiefs spent time after the draft defending the decision to select him.

“We all know this is a very sensitive situation,” Dorsey said. “Again, we have done our research and we have had long discussions with regards to this. We’ve done our due diligence.”

Eight of the nine players drafted by the Chiefs participated in the NFL Scouting Combine. Hill is the lone player from the Chiefs’ draft class to not be in Indianapolis.

THE 2016 DRAFT CLASS

2.37: DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State

The 6-6, 308-pound Jones provides immediate depth as a versatile player who can play inside or move outside as a defensive end. He appeared in 39 games with 16 starts in college, totaling 102 tackles and 8 ½ sacks in three years.

Jones, who had a formal interview with the Chiefs at the Combine, also provides insurance when considering starting defensive tackle Dontari Poe is set to play the 2016 season on a fifth-year option and can become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “Big human being,” area scout Ryne Nutt said. “That kid can add weight if you want him to and if you want to keep him to where he’s at around 310 he can do that as well. Very powerful, very long armed kid, when you watch the tape it’s almost like octopus arms the way he’ll strike guys and they’ll kind of crumble down the way he can use his hands. Very powerful base in the lower, he’s got thick thighs, butt and he’s got athletic calves and medium sized ankles.”

3.74: CB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

Russell, who measures 5-11, 196 pounds, brings experience in a press-man scheme and proven mental toughness. He sat out the 2014 season because of academic issues before being reinstated in 2015, and then played through a stress fracture in 2015 before finishing his career at Notre Dame with 169 tackles (125 solo), five interceptions, 12 passes defensed and 1 ½ sacks.

The Chiefs used the 2016 draft to stockpile on cornerbacks, signaling the competition for a starting job alongside Marcus Peters will be fierce.

Russell will push Phillip Gaines, the Chiefs’ 2014 third-round pick, and Steven Nelson, the Chiefs’ 2015 third-round pick, for playing time.

The Chiefs spent time with Russell at his Pro Day workout, where Russell said the team “showed a lot of interest that day.” Russell said he talked to the Chiefs “a little bit” at the Combine.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “He’s a juice guy, meaning he’s got some spunk to him,” area scout Pat Sperduto said. “He’ll help our secondary that’s already growing with that type of swagger.”

4.105: OL Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati

The 6-7, 318-pound Ehinger, a former college teammate of tight end Travis Kelce, played offensive tackle at Cincinnati, but projects as a guard.

Depending on how fast he picks up the offense, Ehinger could find himself in the battle for the starting left guard spot left vacant by the release of Ben Grubbs. The Chief also released guard Paul Fanaika two days before the start of the draft.

Ehinger, who said he had an informal interview with the Chiefs at the Combine, is the sixth offensive lineman drafted by John Dorsey since 2013. The others are Mitch Morse, Zach Fulton, Larent Duvernay-Tardif, Eric Fisher and Eric Kush.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “He’s a guy that’s started more than 50 games at Cincinnati,” area scout Pat Sperduto said. “He’s played guard, he’s played tackle, so the versatility adds to his value. He’s a guy that shows a ton of patience in his game, he has aggression, he knows when to use it, when to pull back. He’s a guy that will definitely fit in our room, he’s a true o‐lineman.”

Sept. 12, 2015; Fort Collins, CO; Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Eric Murray (31) during the first quarter against Colorado State at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Sept. 12, 2015; Fort Collins, CO; Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Eric Murray (31) during the first quarter against Colorado State at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

4.106: CB Eric Murray, Minnesota

The 6-0, 199-pound Murray, the second of three cornerbacks selected during the draft, won’t shy from getting physical with wide receivers and he has experience playing press-man.

Murray, who clocked a 4.49 time in 40-yard dash at the Combine, started all 13 games in his senior season at Minnesota, totaling 66 tackes (47 solo), a team-high seven pass breakups, an interception and fumble recovery.

Murray, who said his predraft contact with the Chiefs was limited to his Pro Day workout, is the first player from Minnesota to be drafted by the Chiefs since linebacker Bruce Holmes in 1987.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “He’s really smooth with good hips,” area scout Terry Delp said. “Like I said, the thing that stood out to me the first time I saw him, as a younger kid, was the speed. He chased down a guy across the field and you’re like ‘Woah.’ But he’s got good feet, good hips, he’s a good athlete.”

4.126: WR Demarcus Robinson, Florida

Robinson, who is listed at 6-1, 204 pounds, joins a crowded Chiefs wide receiver corps consisting of Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, Rod Streater, De’Anthony Thomas, Mike Williams, Frankie Hammond Jr., Fred Williams, Da’Ron Brown, Kenny Cook and Kashif Moore.

The former Florida Gator, who clocked a 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, finished his college career appearing in 33 games, totaling 1,335 yards receiving and nine touchdowns on 106 catches.

Robinson, who had a predraft visit with the Chiefs, is the fourth wide receiver drafted by the Chiefs since John Dorsey arrived in 2013. Chris Conley, Da’Ron Brown and De’Anthony Thomas are the other three.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “He’s an excellent athlete, very loose-hipped, quick-footed athlete,” area scout Ryne Nutt said. “He’s a little quicker than fast, but on tape when you watch this kid he can run, he can climb on defensive backs.”

5.162: QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford

The Chiefs add a fourth quarterback to the roster and the 6-4, 218-pound Hogan arrives after an accomplished college career, highlighted by a 36-10 record as a starter. The 36 wins is a Stanford record for career wins as a starting quarterback, and that isn’t too shabby at all when considering Hogan succeeded Andrew Luck.

Hogan, who said he had an informal interview with the Chiefs at the Combine, will have his work cut out for him to overtake current backup quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “He’s a very, very bright kid,” area scout Trey Koziol said. “He’s coming from a pro‐style offense. He’s 36‐10 as a career starter for them, he’s won three Pac‐12 Championships, he’s the only quarterback, I think, in Stanford history who’s been to three Rose Bowl games, too. If you look at his body of work as a whole, it’s really impressive, the guy has figured out a way to win games in a pro‐style offense. I thought that was very impressive.”

5.165: RB/WR Tyreek Hill, West Alabama

The Chiefs brought in the 5-10, 185-pound Hill for a predraft visit and are comfortable with the decision to draft him. But the cloud of doubt is sure to linger from those outside of One Arrowhead Drive regardless what happens on the football field.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “He’s got world‐class speed,” area scout Ryne Nutt said. “He ran a 4.25, at his Pro Day, it was one of the better Pro Days I’ve been to all year. The kid’s explosive, he’s fast‐twitched, he can obviously run and he’s very good with the ball in his hand.”

6.178: CB D.J. White, Georgia Tech

The 5-11, 185-pound White finished his senior season ranked sixth on the team with 41 tackles (36 solo), adding two interceptions and a team-high eight pass breakups.

White is the first player selected from Georgia Tech by the Chiefs since 2004, when the team drafted linebacker Keyaron Fox.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “D.J. is a fast, tough and a physical corner,” area scout Ryne Nutt said. “I think he fits what we do. And if you’re going to watch a game, Pitt this year, he matches up with (wide receiver) Tyler Boyd a little bit and it’s a good game.”

6.203: OLB Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech

The Chiefs list Nicolas at 6-3, 223 pounds, but Nicolas said during a postdraft selection conference call he currently weighs “close to 240.”

Nicolas, who had a formal interview with the Chiefs at the Combine, recorded 45 tackles and 2 ½ sacks in his senior season at Virginia Tech and was a third-team All-ACC selection as voted by coaches.

He is a former college teammate of current Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Gibson and the fifth Hokie to be selected by the Chiefs in franchise history. The last time the Chiefs drafted a player out of Virginia Tech came in 2008 with the selection of cornerback Brandon Flowers.

CHIEFS SCOUTING VIEW: “The biggest thing with Dadi is just his explosiveness, athletic ability, his get‐off,” area scout Matt Donahoe said. “He’s a passionate kid with football. He kind of plays like that on the field, too. I know if you look back at his stats this year, it might not have been the greatest, but you go back two years ago and this kid was making plays all over the field. The biggest thing is just his athletic ability. That just stands out right away.”

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Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for The Topeka Capital-Journal and ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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