Before providing the Chiefs 2014 draft grades, we have to look back. After starting off the 2013 season 9-0, the team finished 11-5 and lost a shootout in Indianapolis in the Wild Card round. A lot of things went right for the Chiefs during those nine wins (including playing six backup QBs), and injuries marred the team in its five losses.
Not exactly flush with cash this off-season, GM John Dorsey and HC Andy Reid had to plan for beyond the 2014 season. While some fans point out the absence of a drafted receiver, we need to keep in mind that one-year gap fillers are available in free agency. But we're not here to talk about free agency, so let's get to the Chiefs 2014 draft grades.
Round 1, Pick 23: Dee Ford, DE Auburn
With Tamba Hali and Justin Houston both playing in the last years of their contracts, both can't get paid at the end of the season. Nor do I think Hali will be worth another big contract at 32 years old. Ford was a somewhat surprising pick at first, but makes tons of sense when looking beyond the 2014 season. He is a bit undersized at 250 lbs (Hali weighs in around 275 and Houston around 260), but he has a year to grow.
While at first this seemed like a bit of a reach, I now see it as strategic thinking, and any production Ford can provide this year is just an added bonus. The only reason I don't give this pick the highest grade is because there were positions of greater need that could have been addressed (WR and o-line). Grade: A-Philip Gaines was the Chiefs 3rd round pick
Round 3, Pick 87: Philip Gaines, CB, Rice
With the Chiefs willing to trade Brandon Flowers, it made sense to pick up a CB at this point. Facing the Broncos at least twice a year, the Chiefs need a lot of depth at pass rush and cornerback, their top two picks here. The team now has four starting-caliber CBs. Or three if they trade Flowers.
With Flowers and Smith, the Chiefs have a solid 1-2 combo. Marcus Cooper is unproven, so the team needed to do something to limit the new Broncos WRs. Grade: B+
Round 4, Pick 124: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
After losing Dexter McCluster to free agency, the team had a void in the return game. Similar in stature, McCluster is a small guy (5'9", 174 lbs) who can fly on the field. He didn't show it at the combine, but this guy has serious game speed. He won't make much noise in the backfield in the NFL, but he has every chance to succeed returning kicks. I'm amazed at his ability to pull away on long runs, especially - scroll to the 0:41 mark in the following video to see what I mean. Grade: B+
Round 5, Pick 163: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Three inches shorter than current QB Alex Smith, the 6'1" Aaron Murray saw his stock plummet due to his size and the fact that he's coming off an ACL injury. A fierce competitor, Murray set all sorts of records at Georgia after starting for four years. Being able to last that long and have that kind of productivity in the nation's top collegiate football conference is a testament to the potential Reid and Dorsey saw in Murray.
With Smith under contract this year, Murray is a developmental project and has a year to learn Reid's system. A low-risk pick, the team once again drafted towards the future. Good value, but, again, not addressing anything this year. Grade: B-
Round 6, Pick 193: Zach Fulton, OG, Tennessee
Finally! A pick that can help this year! After losing two starting-caliber guards to free agency (and LT Branden Albert), the Chiefs addressed their o-line with Fulton. Fulton certainly looks the part of lineman (6'5", 316 lbs), but needs to get more physical at the line and use his strength to dominate the interior.
A pick that can help immediately, but addressed later than most thought, and seen as a developmental player by some scounts. Grade: B-
Round 6, Pick 200: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill
Who? A Canadian med student, LDT measured up as well as Taylor Lewan at his pro day. Clearly a smart person, I imagine he has the brains to pick up on coaching and improve the nuances of his game quickly. This mostly seems like a depth pick, however, as the Chiefs look to protect themselves against current injury with future potential. Grade: C-
Chiefs 2014 Draft Grades: B
Overall, the Chiefs picked talented players, and didn't reach too high to get anyone. However, after the incredible turn-around last season (I still think they should have beaten the Colts in the playoffs), it seems like management wants to take a step back and build toward the future. It's not a bad idea considering their holes, but the team planned for future holes instead of filling current ones. This has the makings of a solid draft class, but for 2014, nobody really excites the fan base.