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Evaluating KC Chiefs “rumors season” coming out of the NFL Combine

One of the most underrated parts of the NFL Scouting Combine is the speculation season that follows for the next week and a half until free agency officially begins.

During the combine, all coaching and executive personnel from every team are in one city, one hotel and one event center talking to each other and sharing information.

Deals are made, secrets are traded and teams begin to play the media game with little statements for the sake of leverage. Information is given to national news-breakers to push a narrative to the public.

This year, the Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the major players in the early stages of the speculation season, with information swirling around about the draft, free agency and even current players on their roster.

Rather than coming out of the NFL combine with a new mock draft reflecting how different players affected their draft stock in Indianapolis, I’m going to be take all of these unsubstantiated (for now) rumors and evaluate how much weight they hold.

I will then make a decision based upon on each rumor as to how I believe the Chiefs should approach the offseason. The free agency portion will be broad and generic rather than identifying specific players. Before the free agency section, there will be some current roster moves that will be based on rumors floating around.

Then we’ll do a three-round mock draft in which specific players will be included with brief overviews of their abilities.


Current roster


Whether it’s the right decision or not, this one appears to have a solid backing and makes plenty of sense based upon everything we’ve heard. For that reason — and because there is little buzz about interest in him — in this scenario, Houston is going to be cut.

This one is a little less substantial right now, but there is a lot of smoke — which usually means there is a fire nearby. Let’s say the Chiefs don’t like Dee Ford’s fit for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense and want to recoup something for him. Let’s also say they trade him for their rumored asking price, which seems to be a mid-second-round draft pick.

This one is much less of a rumor and more of a money-savvy proposal to cut some dead weight on players that may not be the best fit for the current Chiefs — players like Daniel Sorensen, Eric Murray and Reggie Ragland.

Andy Reid has stated that Berry has gotten a second opinion and won’t be getting surgery. The interview went on to hint that the Chiefs then expect him to be healthy and available for training camp. But since nothing has changed since last year when he couldn’t play, that seems far-fetched. With no assurance that he’ll be healthier this year, designating Berry as a post-June 1 cut is the only logical move.

With extra cap space cleared with the previous moves, the timing of this contract extension makes sense. The Chiefs get this deal done. This move can be essentially structured any way the Chiefs want, but for the sake of discussion, let’s move Hill’s cap hit this year — the first year of the extension — to $5 million.

After Hill’s contract is restructured, the Chiefs would have $47 million in salary cap space for 2019.


Free Agency


The Chiefs are being connected to the free agent market for safeties in several different ways. For this reason — and the super stacked free agent safety class — the Chiefs will sign a high-end starter at safety in free agency.

Whether or not we believe in the fit of Houston and Ford in Spagnuolo’s system, the narrative seems to be that the Chiefs’ top edge rushers aren’t ideal fits.

To fix that issue, the Chiefs attack an above-average starting defensive end in free agency that fits a more traditional body type for the position — a longer, bigger body type that is also an effective pass rusher off the edge.

Players that fit this general profile include Trey Flowers, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Ezekiel Ansah and Cameron Wake.

Ward played better down the stretch for the Chiefs and reportedly left a good impression on the new defensive staff. With the mention of aggression in the cornerback market, in this scenario, the Chiefs opt to sign a low-end starting CB that fulfills Veach’s requirements.

Players that fit the general profile: Pierre Desir, Trevor Williams, Ronald Darby, Kareem Jackson, Kevin Johnson and Rashaan Melvin. Trade or late-cut candidates: Xavier Rhodes and Patrick Peterson.

These sound like three very significant moves, but remember: in this scenario, the Chiefs are clearing a ton of cap space and revamping cornerstones of the defense. There is more than enough cash to sign upper-tier guys at every position, but that would be naive and hopeful to expect. The ultimate goal would be to sign one top-notch starter, one quality starter and one player that is on the lower end of the starting-caliber scale.


The draft


Round 1 Pick 29: Clelin Ferrell – DE – Clemson

As the draft is unfolding, I’m prepared to make calls into the top 25 picks to make sure I land a player that is going to make an early impact on the roster. Fortunately enough, Clelin Ferrell is falling down the draft board just enough that I can feel comfortable sticking it out at 29 — and still drafting one of the second-tier edge rushers.

Spagnuolo has a long history of investing in the DE position at every stop along his coaching career — specifically investing in bigger DEs (heavier than 260 lbs). Ferrell fits the Spagnuolo model for a defensive end almost perfectly. Ferrell is a good (but not great) athlete who is very technically refined and also plays with fantastic hands and good strength.

Round 2: Justin Layne – CB – Michigan State

With the second round-pick acquired from the Dee Ford trade, the plan is to add another cornerback outlined by Rumor 8 — a long, athletic player. And he fits the bill for Rumor 9, too.

Layne isn’t ready to jump in and play meaningful snaps right away but has a very similar athletic profile to Ward. Layne is still transitioning from wide receiver to cornerback but shows the natural instincts when playing off a receiver or in zone coverage and some top-notch ball skills when driving downhill.

Round 2 Pick 29: Connor McGovern – IOL – Penn State

This rumor popped up shortly after the combine concluded and may not make much sense, as the Chiefs chose to sign Austin Reiter to a long-term, quality contract after his strong season filling in at center. Nonetheless, the Chiefs have met with multiple interior offensive linemen at the combine and the rumors are flying, so the Chiefs could choose to address the position in the draft.

McGovern has the versatility to play any of the interior positions — a key trait for Andy Reid — and the athleticism to fit in zone-heavy schemes.

Round 2 Pick 31 (from Rams): Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina

The backing for this pick comes less off a specific rumor and more from a little research on the Chiefs meeting list — both formal and informal — at the combine.

Not only did the Chiefs meet with Samuel, but they also met with a good number of other receivers, too — a sign they are considering drafting at the position. This wide receiver draft class has a varied skillset and grabbing Samuel late in the second round would give the Chiefs instant competition at the third receiver position, along with the potential of a future starting WR2.

Samuel is electric after the catch — showcasing good speed and explosive ability — but really shines with his ability to generate quick separation on underneath routes.

  • Rumor 11: The Chiefs don’t have the athleticism along the defensive line that Spagnuolo usually likes to run all his twists, stunts and blitzes.

Round 3 Pick 29: Trysten Hill – IDL – UCF

While at first glance, the Chiefs defensive line rotation looks pretty strong, many of the rotational guys are more linear players and don’t have much lateral agility.

This pick goes to Trysten Hill to help alleviate the lack of overall athleticism along the line. Hill really impressed coming out of the combine with his on-field drills. On film, he looks extremely fluid and natural turning corners and controlling his body. While there are some definite issues to fix in his rush plan and play identification, with his penetration skills, he’s ready to make an immediate impact as a rotational rusher.


Conclusion


This is rumor season.

You can’t buy into every single thing you heard. or try to form a full plan for a team based on what is swirling around. Still, with all the information out there, we can come up with a sample offseason we might see if all the rumors have merit.

Some of the rumors are coming straight from the team and there is a chance they stick. Some are coming from media personalities who have previously proven accurate. Others amount to fan theories and carry the lowest chance of having any merit.

For myself, the big takeaway from this exercise is that even if every rumor is true, there is a path to rebuilding this defense quickly with high-caliber players.


KC Draft Guide

We are releasing the first ever edition of the KC Draft Guide on April 8.

We’ll have over 200 prospect write-ups, specifically about how prospects fit the Chiefs. There will be big boards, more than 300 grades on players, mock drafts, positional rankings and features all specific to the Chiefs. You can pre-order the guide for only $6.99 by clicking here.



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