The biggest move made by the Kansas City Chiefs came before the 2022 NFL Draft when Pro Bowl receiver Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins.
The move, created by salary-cap issues, will certainly impact the high-powered Kansas City offense. The multiple draft picks did allow Kansas City to attempt to improve a leaky defense, with particular emphasis on improving the secondary and the pass rush.
The selection of former Western Michigan receiver Skyy Moore was one of the most popular picks among the NFL draft analysts and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact he has during his rookie season.
The most intriguing of the undrafted rookie free agents signed by Kansas City was former Clemson receiver Justyn Ross. When Ross had 12 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns in two games in the College Football Playoff following the 2018 season, he was viewed as a future NFL star. Injury concerns led to him being passed over in the draft. The NFL betting lines have Ross with better odds (+6000) to be the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year than many of the receivers who were selected in the draft.
Perhaps no other division added more star power in the offseason, with receiver Davante Adams joining the Las Vegas Raiders, quarterback Russell Wilson being traded to the Denver Broncos and pass-rushing linebacker Khalil Mack now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers. However, the NFL picks have the Chiefs (+150) with the best odds to win the AFC West Division title yet again.
Here’s a look at how the Chiefs fared in the draft.
Pick 21 Trent McDuffie | CB, Washington Huskies
When the Chiefs traded Hill, the feeling was that an early pick would be used on one of the top receivers in the draft. Kansas City went a different way by addressing the secondary.
The 5-foot-11 Trent McDuffie probably would have been in contention to be among the first cornerbacks selected if he were a few inches taller. The tape of him defending the top receivers in the Pac-12 was very impressive. He also locked up pretty much every player he went up against. It doesn’t hurt that Washington has been sending defensive backs to the NFL and McDuffie is one of the better prospects.
One concern is that he had just two interceptions in 28 career games. Some of that could be attributed to teams not willing to test him in pass coverage, but that number does bring up concerns about his ball skills.
The Chiefs gave up a third and fourth-round pick to move up eight spots to select McDuffie.
Those who bet online might want to keep an eye on McDuffie, who is tied for 11th in the current NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds.
Pick 30 George Karlaftis | DE, Purdue Boilermakers
George Karlaftis burst onto the scene with 17 tackles for loss and 7½ sacks for Purdue as a freshman in 2019. He had 5.5 tackles for loss and 2½ sacks in three games against ranked opponents. His splash plays went down a bit after that breakthrough season. Karlaftis had 13½ tackles for loss and seven sacks in 15 games over his last two seasons.
The 6-foot-4, 266-pound Karlaftis has the size to play on either side of the defensive line. He was a willing-run defender during his time at Purdue and there is a chance that he makes more of an impact as a high-energy, well-rounded defensive end than as a dynamic pass rusher.
Karlaftis did have a 38-inch vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine, so he does have the athleticism to make the jump to the NFL.
Pick 54 Skyy Moore | WR, Western Michigan Broncos
The Chiefs got a second-round pick as part of the trade for Hill and then traded down four spots before landing a talented receiver.
Skyy Moore had four games with more than 100 receiving yards in his first two seasons before an eye-opening 2021 season when he had seven 100-yard receiving efforts in a span of nine games. The final game in that run was an outing with 206 yards and four touchdowns against Northern Illinois.
Moore had 96 catches for 1293 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing one game.
While he isn’t as fast as Hill, Moore did run the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds to go with a 10-5 broad jump and 34½-inch vertical leap. Nobody is expecting Moore to come in and replace Hill. However, he should be part of the group of players looking to replace the production from the electrifying Hill.
The sportsbook has Moore (+1100) tied for sixth among the receivers in the odds to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Pick 62 Bryan Cook | S, Cincinnati Bearcats
After making 28 tackles during his first two seasons at Cincinnati, Bryan Cook broke through with 93 tackles and two interceptions to help Cincinnati earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Cook began his career at Howard and had five interceptions and 12 pass breakups before transferring to his hometown Bearcats.
Cook is a physical presence at safety who displayed the ability to cover tight ends. Along with McDuffie, he could play immediately in a new-look Kansas City secondary.
Pick 103 Leo Chenal | LB, Wisconsin Badgers
Leo Chenal was the leading tackler on one of the best defenses in the country in 2021. Chenal recorded 115 tackles and eight sacks despite missing the first two games of the season. He posted 12 tackles in a loss to eventual Big Ten champion Michigan. It was the first of five games with more than 10 tackles.
BEWARE: Danger ahead. pic.twitter.com/mE65Nnt37W
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) May 14, 2022
Chenal dropped 10 pounds by the time he showed up at the NFL Scouting Combine. That paid off as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, had a 40½-inch vertical leap and a 10-8 broad jump, making him one of the top performers in his position group at the combine.
Chenal figures to be asked to bring pressure from the linebacker position and provide another playmaker for a unit that finished near the bottom of the NFL in passing defense and total defense in 2021.
Pick 135 Joshua Williams | CB, Fayetteville State Broncos
The Chiefs added another defensive player who had a strong workout during the pre-draft process. His time of 4.53 seconds in the 40, 36-inch vertical jump and 10-4 broad jump at the combine sent the small-school prospect soaring up draft boards. Those numbers combined for his 6-foot-3, 195-pound make him an intriguing prospect.
After sitting out the 2020 season, Joshua Williams had 41 tackles, three interceptions and six pass breakups to put himself on the radar of NFL teams.
Pick 145 Darian Kinnard | OL, Kentucky Wildcats
The 322-pound Kinnard started 24 games at right tackle over his last two seasons and was named the top offensive lineman in the Southeastern Conference as a senior.
Kinnard projects to move inside to guard for the Chiefs. Kansas City struck gold by taking offensive lineman Trey Smith on the final day of the 2021 draft. Could Kinnard end up playing at the other guard spot for the Chiefs?
Kinnard didn’t test very well at the NFL Scouting Combine, which could be a reason why he was still available at this point in the draft.
Pick 243 Jaylen Watson | DB, Washington State Cougars
Jaylen Watson found himself around the ball quite a bit during his final season at Washington State with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He provides the Chiefs with another defensive back with a tantalizing combination of size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and speed (4.51 seconds in the 40).
Watson was a two-time junior college All-American who played in only 15 games during his two seasons at Washington State.
Pick 251 Isaih Pacheco | RB, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Isaih Pacheco averaged less than four yards per carry during his final season at Rutgers and a minuscule 1.9 yards per reception. He was a four-year contributor for the Scarlet Knights, who ran for nearly 2,500 yards. Two of his seven career games with more than 100 rushing yards came against ranked opponents.
Running back wasn’t the biggest need for the Chiefs but there was little risk in taking a chance on Pacheco late in the draft.
Pick 259 Nazeeh Johnson | S, Marshall Thundering Herd
Yes, the Chiefs drafted another defensive back. Nazeeh Johnson had seven interceptions during his five seasons at Marshall along with more than 300 tackles.
Johnson started off as a non-scholarship player at Marshall who worked his way into becoming a draftable player and that’s a great story.
Grading the Draft
Dealing away Hill, whose game-breaking ability was such a key part of the explosive Kansas City offense, is a big risk. The Chiefs were able to add some more players to the roster as a result of that huge trade in the offseason. However, it will take a few years to determine if that was the right move for the Chiefs.
It’s hard to find much fault for any of the picks made by Kansas City. The defense should be better with the additions of McDuffie, Karlaftis, Cook and Chenal. Moore might end up being one of the top rookie receivers. There are a lot of coulds and mights when it comes to this draft class.