It has been nearly a week since the 2020 NFL Draft opened and 31 picks were made before the Kansas City Chiefs got their first shot at a first-round selection since taking Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 in 2017.
The Chiefs did what many – including myself – considered unlikely and selected a running back in LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd pick. It was a choice that did not necessarily reflect the handful of positions of need the team had which included cornerback and linebacker, but Edwards-Helaire was a calculated choice by general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid.
Adding a running back in the first round is considered to be a dying trend among many fans but the Chiefs saw an opportunity to put another weapon in Mahomes’ arsenal and took it.
Furthermore, their next two picks did well in upgrading those previously mentioned positions of need. Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. was taken in the second and looks like he will start immediately with Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson.
Third-round choice Lucas Niang, an offensive lineman out of TCU, represented a small gamble by the Chiefs as Niang dealt with a nagging injury throughout his final season. To me, the pick still represents good value because Niang was projected as an early second-round pick without his injury. He also provides a great option at either tackle spot if the team chooses to move on from Mitch Schwartz’s or Eric Fisher’s contracts after next season.
Defensive back L’Jarius Sneed has top-end speed and experience playing both cornerback and safety, giving defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo more flexibility with Tyrann Mathieu.
Michael Danna, a defensive lineman selected in the fifth round, was the least exciting choice of the bunch. Danna doesn’t project to be an impactful pass rusher on the edge immediately and might need a year or two before he is able to get on the field regularly.
Had Danna been the Chiefs’ last pick of the draft as planned, I would not be nearly as positive about the haul of picks but Veach caught us all by surprise when he moved back into the seventh round to take cornerback Thakarius “BoPete” Keyes from Tulane for the price of a 2021 sixth-round pick. Keyes is a good-sized cornerback that will need time to develop and will likely contribute on special teams this year.
With six new drafted rookies and a sizable group of undrafted free agents on their way to Kansas City, it is clear that Veach and Reid targeted players that will not only help them win in the next couple years but also four or five years from now when Mahomes’ and Chris Jones’ contract extensions are – hopefully – using a lot of cap space.
This was one of the best drafts the Chiefs have completed in a long time. There wasn’t a first-round choice similar to Tyson Jackson in 2009 or Jon Baldwin in 2011. While the Danna pick isn’t the most exciting ever, adding pieces like Edwards-Helaire and Gay Jr. should make every Chiefs fan even more excited for the future.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org