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Press Box: Chiefs overcome departures with high-quality draft class

by Trevor Hahn | May 1, 2022 at 2:10 a.m.
Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hold a team jersey after Karlaftis was chosen by the Chiefs with the 30th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday in Las Vegas. (Associated Press)

At a much-needed time, the Kansas City Chiefs put together an impressive 2022 NFL Draft class.

The past couple of months have raised a lot of question marks for the Chiefs and their future. Tyreek Hill was shipped away to Miami, Tyrann Mathieu and Anthony Hitchens became free agents and are not expected to come back to Kansas City, Charvarius Ward is now a 49er and the Chiefs lost depth at wide receiver with Byron Pringle going to the Bears and Demarcus Robinson becoming a Raider.

This left some glaring holes in the Chiefs’ roster for the first time in a few years. General manager Brett Veach was very aggressive in filling these holes during the draft.

Kansas City started Thursday night with the Nos. 29 and 30 picks in the draft, but Veach was not going to wait for his guy to fall to him.

The Chiefs completed a trade with the New England Patriots for the 21st pick, where the Chiefs selected cornerback Trent McDuffie out of Washington.

There were some questions about the size of McDuffie, as he stands only 5-foot-11, but there were no questions about his athleticism and speed on the football field. Despite being undersized, McDuffie showed a lot of physicality while in college.

McDuffie thrived in Washington’s zone defense-heavy scheme and used his elite closing speed to limit yards after the catch. Veach has already talked about McDuffie as a guy that will immediately be able to fill the void Ward left on the outside of the defense.

Next up with pick No. 30, the Chiefs selected defensive end George Karlaftis out of Purdue. Karlaftis is an intriguing prospect because he had a very productive career with the Boilermakers, despite not starting to play football until the eighth grade when he moved from Greece to West Lafayette, Ind. He does not have a wide variety of pass rushing moves yet, but he’s extremely powerful off the edge.

Karlaftis projects to be a plus-run defender out of the jump and his high motor should put him around the football a lot. Karlaftis is another guy that should see a lot of playing time right out of the gate.

After addressing the two most glaring needs on the defense on Day 1, Veach started out Day 2 by completing another trade with the Patriots -- this time to move back four spots and select wide receiver Skyy Moore out of Western Michigan with the 54th pick.

Moore also had questions about his size, but this is my personal favorite pick out of the class. He is only 5-foot-10 but had the biggest hands out of any receiver in the class. He showed great route running ability and impressive ability to high point the football over taller defenders.

This has led many experts to calling Moore the best pure slot receiver in the class.

The Chiefs then shifted their focus back to adding depth to their defense to end Day 2 by selecting Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook at pick No. 62 and Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chanel at pick No. 103.

Cook is a hard-hitting safety that should replace the role Daniel Sorensen left -- hopefully with less mental mistakes. Cook was a big part of a secondary that helped lead the Bearcats to their first College Football Playoff appearance. He should see playing time early in the season in three safety sets and could challenge Juan Thornhill for a starting spot if Thornhill happens to struggle or get injured.

Chanel is what a lot of people would call a “football guy.” He loves to hit and put together almost a perfect relative athletic score. If you are unfamiliar on what a relative athletic score is, it puts together your size and athletic measurables (bench press, sprint and acceleration speeds, vertical and broad jumps and shuttle times) to give a player an athletic score out of 10 possible points. Chanel’s score was a 9.99, which ranks third out of 2,419 linebackers scored dating back to 1987.

Veach plans to have Chanel play as the strong-side linebacker and move Willie Gay Jr. to the weak side with Nick Bolton in the middle.

On Day 3, Veach added depth at cornerback with his three of his five picks on the day by selecting Joshua Williams out of Fayetteville (N.C.) State in the fourth round, Jaylen Watson from Washington State in the seventh and Nazeeh Johnson out of Marshall. Although these three will not start right away, they look like intriguing prospects to watch grow and develop into their big frames with Johnson having the ability to play both safety and corner.

The Chiefs traded up for the second pick of the fifth round to select offensive lineman Darian Kinnard out of Kentucky. Kinnard has the ability to play either right guard or right tackle and has the possibility to challenge Lucas Niang for the right tackle position in camp.

Kansas City also added depth at running back in the seventh round with Isaih Pacheco out of Rutgers, who will have the chance to battle for the third spot on the depth chart with Derrick Gore and Brenden Knox.

Overall, the Chiefs addressed many areas of concern and added at least five players that should get a chance to play right away. This should mark two straight drafts where Kansas City comes away with value up and down the board.


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