Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid have multiple ways they can go in the first round, and could use help at wide receiver, guard, defensive line, outside linebacker and cornerback.
Kansas City also finds itself short a Top 100 pick with the loss of a third-round pick, so the need to regain an additional pick could be higher than what’s available at pick 28 in the first round.
Still, here are 10 candidates that should be in the discussion if either is on the board at 28.
1. QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis (6’6, 244-pounds, 40-yard: 4.86, Hand: 10 1/4)
Lynch arguably has the best arm among the quarterbacks in the draft and can throw the ball 50-plus yards down the field and perfectly place it at his desired spot. The former Memphis Tiger has great size and unique athletic ability to go with his frame.
The NFL is evolving, signaling quarterbacks need better athletic ability and great size to sustain and avoid the hits from the current speed of defenders.
Lynch will need to sit for a season or two and learn the NFL game. He will need to understand why he is throwing to a spoke rather than being told just to throw to a spot. Kansas City provides a great coaching staff and veteran in Alex Smith to give him the time to maturate until he is ready.
2. OLB Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State (6’4, 251-pounds, 10-yard: 1.68, Bench: 23)
Calhoun is a ready-made NFL pass rusher, possessing the strength and size to compete in the NFL. The former Spartan has the necessary counter moves and ability to set the edge once he is drafted. Calhoun continued to get stronger as games went on and found a way to make a game-changing play in crucial moments.
He would provide necessary competition for Dee Ford, a long-term replacement for Tamba Hali and a short-term answer for what the roster loses in the event Justin Houston (knee) isn’t ready for the start of the season.
3. OLB Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State (6’4, 273-pounds, 10-yard: 1.58, Bench: 20)
Ogbah has good bend around the edges and closes once he gets around the tackle. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy can rush from both sides of the field whether it is standing up in a two-point stance or with his hand in the dirt. He has the same effectiveness in his rush regardless of the stance, but will need to add a spin and club move to go with an already effective rips and bull rushes.
The former Cowboy had a very good game against the fundamental sound Cody Whitehair of Kansas State. He will need to improve on diagnosis some reads in the play-action fakes, but is a relentless pass rusher.
4. CB William Jackson, Houston (6’0, 189-pounds, 40-yard: 4.37, Arm: 31 3/4)
The Chiefs will need to find corner depth in the draft as insurance for Phillip Gaines, who returns from an ACL injury, and Marcus Peters.
Jackson, who played wide receiver in high school, would provide the team with a speedy corner. His ball-tracking skills show up on tape with an ability to read and adjust his speed well to the flight of the ball. He attacks the football well and seems comfortable with his position while the ball is in the air.
Jackson understands that the sideline in his friends and pushes receivers as close to the boundary as possible. He makes good reads on the route and is able to stay stride for stride with most receivers. Chiefs defensive backs coaches Emmitt Thomas and Al Harris would need to work with him on changing direction with short routes and not grabbing the receiver at times.
5. CB Mackenzie Alexander, Clemson (5’11, 190-pounds, 40-yard: 4.49, Arm: 31 3/8)
The things that stands out about Alexander is his confidence and fluidity in his lower body. The former Clemson Tiger has quick feet and reads routes well, while understanding what a receiver is trying to do and attempts to take it away. Alexander has a good grasp of angles and how to cut off a route for a potential interception.
His lack of interceptions gets talked about a great deal, but what gets missed is that he did not give up a touchdown in his final 24 starts. Alexander would have some growing pains in technique, but has the right mindset to play the position.
6. S Karl Joseph, West Virginia (5’11, 205-pounds)
Joseph is a physical presence on the field very similar to Bob Sanders in his prime. The former Mountaineer had nine interceptions and eight forced fumbles in 42 games. He has impressive range in coverage that fits perfectly in the Chiefs scheme, but can also close down hill in run support and lay a jaw-rattling hit. Joseph has a wrestling background and it shows in his physical form tackles.
He will need to improve the timing of his hits in coverage and not jumping on a route too early. The Florida native is coming off a right knee injury that derailed his senior season after four games.
7. DL Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech (6’3, 323-pounds, 10-yard: 1.82, Bench: 26)
Butler provides tremendous versatility as he played five-tech, three-tech, and nose tackle in pass rushing situations. The former Bulldog has good athletic ability for his size and is very similar to Muhammad Wilkerson with his pass rush. Butler has good speed on twist and shoots the gap extremely well. He maintains the line of scrimmage on single blocks but can get turned on occasion in double teams.
The Mississippi native has good pop on his bull rushes but must improve his club move to make his swim more effective. Butler doesn’t take plays off.
8. DL Kenny Clark, UCLA (6’2, 314-pounds, 10-yard: 1.72, Bench: 29)
Clark is very similar to current Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard in build and athletic ability. He has good lateral quickness, a great bull rush and quick recognition reading the keys in the backfield and breaking off to shut down screen passes.
The former Bruin maintains the line of scrimmage very well on double teams and closes very quickly on stunts and twist. He disengages from blocks well and has a solid club move built in with a rip technique. Clark was a high school state wrestling champion at Carter High School in San Bernardino, Calif.
9. OG Cody Whitehair, Kansas State (6’3, 301-pounds, Bench Press: 16)
Whitehair doesn’t fit the traditional Andy Reid interior offensive lineman that averages around 6-5 and 320 pounds. But the former Wildcat has arguably the best technique among any of the offensive linemen entering this draft. Whitehair has a great base and good bend. He mirrors defenders well and makes sure to wall them off to give the running back his lane. The Kansas native has a really good drive block from a two-point stance and gets to the second level very quickly.
Whitehair picks up and passes off defenders very well in pass protection and does a great job of anticipating the delayed blitz, then knocking the defender off their path. The four-year starter has played at tackle, guard and practiced at center while at Kansas State. Whitehair will need to improve his strength in the NFL to reach his run block ceiling. Offensive lineman coming out of the college these days are rarely as fundamental sound as Whitehair.
10. DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (6’3, 307-pounds, 10-yard: 1.67, Bench: 28)
Nkemdiche was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and started ten games as a freshman. The former Rebel splits double teams well. He has great speed for his size and a good jolt in his punch. Nkemdiche disengages from blockers well and has extremely quick closing speed. He is still developing his counter moves but the explosiveness from his hips allows him to change direction quickly.
The Georgia native understands how to play with proper leverage, but will need to have more patience in letting the play develop because he plays out of control at times. The three-year starter is arguably one of the Top 10 ten athletic talents in this draft but seemed to run hot and cold in his effort at times.
In December 2015, Nkemdiche fell 15 feet out of an Atlanta hotel room and was charged with marijuana possession. The incident and his effort on the field at times could lead to him dropping to the Chiefs.