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2017 NFL Draft, Kansas City Chiefs: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

2017 NFL Draft Reset: Reid loves Smith, but Chiefs may seek QB

By
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (C) and head coach Andy Reid wait on the officials for a review on a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (C) and head coach Andy Reid wait on the officials for a review on a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

The Kansas City Chiefs' success over the last four seasons has the club entering the annual draft with a different perspective -- they aren't seeking immediate help to plug holes in the starting lineup.

"Not every team could say they could go out and play right now and play halfway decent," said Reid. "I think we're in a position where we could do that if we had to do it today without the draft. It's a tribute to our personnel guys.

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"We're picking 27th ... you just want to make sure it's the right guy and best player."

A poor performance from Alex Smith in the Chiefs' loss in the playoffs to Pittsburgh has intensified the discussion of whether the starting quarterback is the man who can lead the team to ultimate success in the NFL postseason.

RELATED 2017 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

Head coach Andy Reid wants to see improvement from Smith in the coming season, but there's no doubt the head coach believes his quarterback has the ability to steer Kansas City to a championship.

"I love him; I love how he goes about his business," Reid said. "He's a self-driven guy. He's the first one in and the last one out. I think everybody knows that he's in charge. I think he's just a good football player. I'm very comfortable with him ... I wish I had him as a rookie.

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"That doesn't mean that I don't challenge him with things. Can he continue to get better? Absolutely. I think we just keep surrounding him with good players, and he keeps on going."

RELATED 2017 NFL Draft, Oakland Raiders: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

So quarterback is on the need list heading into the draft, along with a running back to ease the loss of oft-injured Jamaal Charles and a defensive back to further improve the pass defense of a team that faces quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Derek Carr twice each.

Here is a closer look at where the Chiefs are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, at No. 27 overall

RELATED 2017 NFL Draft, Atlanta Falcons: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: T-1st AFC West (12-4)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 343.0 (20th)

RUSHING: 109.3 (15th)

PASSING: 233.8 (19th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 368.5 (24th)

RUSHING: 121.1 (26th)

PASSING: 247.4 (18th)

TEAM NEEDS

1. Running back: The franchise all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles is gone after dealing with knee injuries and surgeries over the last two seasons. Spencer Ware came out of nowhere in the second half of the 2015 season, and became the offense's top rusher posting 1,324 yards on 286 carries in 25 games. Ware also contributes in the passing game, catching 39 passes for 452 yards. But his rugged running style diminishes the chances of him being productive over 16 games - he played 14 games in the 2016 season, but over the last 10 games, Ware's longest run was 17 yards. Charcandrick West (1,329 offensive yards in 30 games) and C.J. Spiller are the other options heading into the draft, raising the position to the top of the K.C. list of needs.

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2. Cornerback: The Chiefs added four cornerbacks last year, but only one made a significant contribution: free agent Terrance Mitchell, who didn't show up on the active roster until the last week of November. Mitchell became a key contributor in the last quarter of the season and started against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Among the three others added, rookie Eric Murray was moved to safety and Kenneth Acker and rookie D.J. White saw minimal snaps on defense. In his second NFL season, Steven Nelson did a solid job at slot cornerback, but third-year corner Phillip Gaines was up-and-down, coming off an ACL injury and surgery and appearing in 11 games. Going into his third season, Marcus Peters is one of the top young defensive backs in the league. But for the K.C. defense, it's a big drop in production after Peters.

3. Quarterback: Salary cap considerations led the Chiefs to pass on an option year in backup Nick Foles' contract, leaving the Kansas City offense dangerously thin and inexperienced at the position. For three seasons (2013-15) Chase Daniel was there to back up Alex Smith, and last year it was Foles. Going into the draft, they have Tyler Bray, who has been around the team for four years, but has yet to take a regular-season snap and remains an unknown commodity.

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KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

S Eric Berry: Potential UFA; $78M/6 yrs, $40M guaranteed.

DL Jarvis Jenkins: UFA; terms unknown.

G/T Mike Person: UFA; $785K/1 yr.

S Daniel Sorensen (RFA tendered at $2.746M with second-round pick as compensation); $16M/4 yrs.

LS James Winchester: Potential ERFA; $4.45M/5 yrs.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

TE Gavin Escobar: UFA Cowboys; 1 yr, terms unknown.

S Marqueston Huff: RFA tender of $1.797M rescinded by Ravens; terms unknown.

DT Bennie Logan: UFA Eagles; $8M/1 yr, $1M SB/$7.68M guaranteed.

RB C.J. Spiller: FA; $775K/1 yr.

PLAYERS LOST

RB Jamaal Charles (released).

RB Knile Davis: UFA Steelers; $775K/1 yr.

QB Nick Foles: UFA Eagles; $27.5M/5 yrs, $3M SB/$7M guaranteed; final three years can void.

DT Dontari Poe: UFA Falcons; $8M/1 yr, $7.5M guaranteed.

MOCK DRAFT

NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No.27 overall)

Rob Rang:

Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt. The Chiefs have some massive shoes to fill up the middle with nose tackle Dontari Poe walking in free agency and 34-year-old linebacker Derrick Johnson recuperating from his second season-ending Achilles tear over the past three years. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Cunningham - a two-time first team All-SEC defender who led the conference in tackles last season - has the length, awareness and speed to help immediately.

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Dane Brugler:

Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida. When healthy and on the field, Davis was one of the best linebackers in the country with his combination of explosive traits and power. It wouldn't take long for him to carve out a leadership role on the Kansas City defense.

Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team's current status, there are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate check out NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.

--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.

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