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6 winners and 4 losers from the Chiefs’ draft weekend

The Kansas City Chiefs used 10 picks in 2022’s NFL Draft Thursday Friday, and Saturday (full list here).

Let’s take a look at the weekend’s winners and losers.


Winners

Utah vs. Washington

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  • Steve Spagnuolo: The Chiefs entered the weekend with glaring holes on defense after moving on from eight players who played significant defensive snaps in 2021 — including safety Tyrann Mathieu. The Chiefs defensive coordinator has to feel good after the team devoted seven selections to defense. Trent McDuffie and George Karloftis can all but be penciled in as day-one starters, while Bryan Cook and Leo Chenal should contribute in rotational roles early in the season. He may have to wait longer on Joshua Williams, though the corner is a high fit for what his system has required and similar to Spagnuolo players has had success in developing.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling: The hyphenated pair remain the Chiefs’ starting receivers despite early buzz linking them to an aggressive first-round trade-up at the position. While the Chiefs did add Skyy Moore in the second round, the Western Michigan product profiles as a complement to them rather than a replacement for one of them. Valdes-Scantling will likely see at least two seasons of his three-year contract. Smith-Schuster — who will be a 26-year-old free agent next March — retains a path to a monster season with no comparable rookie looking over his shoulder from him.
  • Joshua Kaindoh: When considering draft needs for a team, the great unknown is always the team’s opinion of the existing roster. Kaindoh — the Chiefs 2021 fourth-round pick — spent most of his rookie year on injured reserve and was always expected to require extended development. While Karlaftis is expected to be starting EDGE rusher opposite of Frank Clark, not doubling up on the position implies that the Chiefs see a role for the 23-year-old.
  • In-house receiver and tight end depth: Most multiple-round mock drafts had the Chiefs taking at least two wide receivers — and often adding a tight end. After adding Moore in the second round, however, no pass catchers were taken with the remaining seven picks. Players such as Josh Gordon, Noah Gray, Daurice Fountain and maybe even 2016 Browns first-round pick Corey Coleman still likely have legitimate chances to compete for the final roster after the weekend.
  • Brett Veach: After a reserved free agency period — and trading a franchise legend — the Chiefs’ general manager was under pressure to get this draft right. Veach’s performance has been almost universally praised, both for the players selected and positional value — a likely unfair lingering criticism from an outstanding draft a year ago that delivered three high-level starters. After trading up for McDuffie and then selecting Williams and Watson, the narrative that he does not value corners is ended.
  • 2023 capital draft: All eyes were on the Chiefs, who made a total of 10 selections after two trade-ups and one trade back. They did not dip into their 10 currently scheduled 2023 draft picks. A year from now, the Chiefs will have another extra third-rounder as compensation for Ryan Poles leaving the front office, fourth and sixth-round selections from the Miami Dolphins from the Hill trade, and their own seven selections. They will be in a good position to maneuver next year’s draft board or to acquire players made available by other teams.

losers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Cincinnati at Notre Dame

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  • Mecole Hardman and Juan Thornhill: The Chiefs’ two second-round selections from the 2019 draft are entering their last season under contract. Both played key roles as rookies for the eventual Super Bowl LIV Champions, though Thornhill missed the playoffs after a late-season ACL tear. In the two seasons since, however, their usage has varied and their play has had stretches of inconsistency. After spending this year’s pair of second-round picks on Moore and Cook, the Chiefs appear likely to simply let Hardman and Thornhill leave in free agency after the season. The departures of Hill and Mathieu, however, should allow them to make their case — either for the Chiefs or for other teams.
  • Lucas Niang: While Watching gave an optimistic update on the injured tackle in his pre-draft remarks, we have learned to take such comments with a grain of salt. At the start of round five on Saturday, the Chiefs used their last tangible draft capital to move near the top of the fifth round to select Kinnard, who was widely expected to go on the draft’s second day. An aggressive move at the position may imply that the team is not as optimistic as they are acting about Niang’s health — or that they may not believe the 2020 third-round selection is their long term starter at right tackle regardless of health.
  • In-house secondary depth: The Chiefs added three defensive backs in the first four rounds — one by an aggressive trade-up. They added two more in the seventh round — creating more competition for even back of the roster special teams positions. The Chiefs had 11 defensive backs on the roster going into the draft before adding five more. At least a couple of players who entered the weekend as Chiefs will probably find themselves on waivers in the next few days.
  • Undrafted free agent buzz: The biggest shock of draft weekend may be that Veach made 10 selections — after only six in each of his first four drafts. Recent years have seen the Chiefs create post-draft buzz by spending heavily on some of the best undrafted players. That will likely not be the case this year. With 10 rookie contracts to negotiate, the front office will likely be sparing with guaranteed money they offer. More rookies will be added, but expect the trendiest names to pass on Kansas City in favor of teams with smaller draft classes.

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