Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs Mock Draft 2.0: The reporter vs. the machine

On Saturday, I walked down the aisle, and today — just a week from the NFL Draft — I’m walking back into the world of Chiefs coverage.

And there’s no better way to get into the flow of things than with my second mock of the season.

Full disclosure: I was technically off Tuesday, but the road from North Carolina to Kansas City is long — approximately 1,050 miles over two days. So to pass the time from the passenger’s seat, I got out my phone and did a couple mock drafts using the simulator on The Draft Network. I used FanSpeak for my previous mock draft, but The Draft Network is mobile-friendly, making it a lot easier to get my draft on somewhere between Louisville and St. Louis. I ran through two manual seven-round simulations in which I drafted as the Chiefs; then, for fun, I did an automatic simulation where the website made the Chiefs’ picks.

In the two manual drafts, cornerback Byron Murphy was gone by the time the Chiefs’ No. 29 pick came around. That was frustrating because he was my top priority for the first round. But when I did the auto draft, he was available at No. 29, and the Chiefs took him. What gives? I have no idea, other than a shuffling in the algorithms used by The Draft Network and its predictive big board.

I scrapped the first simulation, chalking it up to a practice round to knock the rust off. With that one trashed, I compared my second simulation (on the left for each round, below) to the autodraft pick (listed on the right). I’ll explain my reasoning for who I took, as well as what I like or don’t like, about the autodraft’s pick.

Team needs: Edge, CB, LB, interior OL, RB, CB, interior DL, S, WR

Round 1, 29: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, vs. Byron Murphy, CB

By the time the Chiefs’ pick rolled around at No. 29 in my manual draft, Murphy was already off the board. So I went with the best available safety, which at this point was Gardner-Johnson.

The Florida Gators product is incredibly versatile and should be a good complement to Tyrann Mathieu and his own skill-set. At UF, Gardner-Johnson, listed at 5-11, 210 pounds, had nine interceptions, three INT returns for touchdowns, 12 PBUs, 161 total tackles and 15.5 for loss in 37 games played. Sign me up for that.

But if I had my pick between Gardner-Johnson and Murphy, who was selected by the automatic draft simulator, I’d go with Murphy. The Chiefs went a long way in addressing their need at safety, and I think they should further bolster the cornerback group with this first-round pick.

Murphy, out of Washington, recently visited the Chiefs. Murphy, who is forgoing two years of collegiate eligibility, had injury issues in Seattle. He redshirted his freshman year and missed seven games the following year. But he came back fully healthy for the 2018 season and was named the Pac-12 title game MVP with two interceptions, returning one 66 yards for a touchdown.

Though Murphy is shorter at 5-11, 190 pounds, he’s shown an elite football IQ and a versatility that could fill a lot of roles in the Chiefs’ new-look defense.

Round 2, 61: Travyon Mullen, CB, vs. Vosean Joseph, LB

After going with a safety in the first round, I picked up a cornerback in the second.

Mullen, a Clemson product, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which didn’t put him in the top-10 among his position group. But he’s solid in man coverage and is super physical. At 6-2, 190-pounds, Mullen’s length also makes him an attractive prospect.

The autodraft picked up Joseph in the second round, which I support considering I managed to grab him in the third round of my mock. I think I got lucky that he was around so late in my draft, so if the Chiefs want him, they may need to use a second-round pick to get him.

The Chiefs have made progress in adding to their linebacker group by picking up Damien Wilson and Jeremiah Attaochu, but it still needs a little work to reach its potential in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’ 4-3. Florida linebacker Joseph fits the weakside linebacker role really well. Currently, Anthony Hitchens is projected to start there with Reggie Ragland at mike.

But I think Hitchens slides over to mike and Dorian O’Daniel becomes the will starter. Joseph, who checks in at 6-0, 227 pounds, would give the group some much-needed depth.

Round 2, 63: Deebo Samuel, WR, vs. Jaylon Ferguson, edge

I had a chance to get Ferguson here but opted to go with Samuel instead. I think the Chiefs could use another threat in the middle of the field, especially with the future of Tyreek Hill still up in the air.

When healthy, Samuel was a fun player to watch at South Carolina. At 5-11, 214-pounds, Samuel is undersized for a receiver, but he’s a physically tough player with an innate ability to create space in his route running. He also has a knack for acrobatic receptions. I could see him fitting well in the slot.

The autodraft took Ferguson here, which is also a solid selection. Though the Chiefs added Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor for some much-needed depth on the edge, Ferguson further bolsters that group. The Louisiana Tech product, who is the NCAA’s all-time sacks leader, met with the Chiefs at the Senior Bowl, and he also reportedly met with the Chiefs before his pro day.

The Chiefs have done extensive research on Ferguson, who was convicted of simple battery after a fight at a McDonald’s during his freshman year. Because of that conviction, he wasn’t at the combine. But the Chiefs’ interest in this edge rusher could very well mean Kansas City calls his name in a week.

Round 3, 92: Vosean Joseph, LB, vs. Miles Sanders, RB

See info at No. 61 on Joseph. He’d be a major steal if the Chiefs managed to get him with the No. 92 pick. I agree with the autodraft here that the Chiefs will pick up a running back in this year’s draft. But I don’t know that they’d take one this high.

The Penn State running back is good, but I think the Chiefs could find a valuable asset in a lower round. Like perhaps by taking Elijah Holyfield with the 201st pick. More on that in a bit. Instead, I’d take a defensive player or a tight end. Those feel like bigger needs that should be addressed higher up.

Round 5, 167: Trevon Wesco, TE, vs. Phil Haynes, IOL

With the departure of Demetrius Harris, the Chiefs need to find another tight end. As a tight end with top-notch blocking ability, I think Wesco would complement Travis Kelce really well. At

West Virginia, Wesco showed a basic ability to run routes. He made 26 of his 28 career catches last season. But he was a force in both pass protection and run blocking. He’s a physical player who has the potential to develop his route running in the NFL. With Kelce on the roster, he can start out by serving as a steady blocker.

As for the autodraft’s pick of Haynes, the selection does feel very Brett Veach-like. Veach isn’t afraid to pick guys who need some work, and with only one year of football before joining the Demon Deacons as a freshman, Haynes fits the bill. The Chiefs need help on the interior of the O-line, with the departure of Jordan Devey and Mitch Morse. The Chiefs could use some help at the guard spots, particularly at left guard.

Behind Cam Erving, Kahlil McKenzie is the likely No. 2 guy at the position. He didn’t play a single game last season and is still very much a work in progress. Haynes is green, but he has a little more experience than the converted defensive tackle.

Round 6, 201: Elijah Holyfield, RB, vs. Gary Jennings Jr., WR

Remember how I said I’d pick up a running back in a later round? This is that pick. Elijah Holyfield isn’t as promising a prospect as some of the other recent Georgia running backs like Sony Michel. But I think the son of Evander Holyfield has a lot of upside. At 5-10, 215 pounds, Holyfield rushed for more than 1,000 yards as he split time with D’Andre Swift last year. He’s a powerful back and would be useful in short-yardage situations. He’s not super fast, but he could be a good addition for the Chiefs’ red zone offense. As for the autodraft, in this simulation, the Chiefs go with Jennings, a West Virginia receiver who started eight games at inside receiver for the Mountaineers last year. He led the team with 913 receiving yards and finished seventh in the Big 12 in receiving yards per game with 83.4. Jennings isn’t going to be a Day 1 starter by any means, but he’s good for depth and special teams.

Round 6, 214: Wyatt Ray, edge, vs. Greg Gaines, DL

Yes, I waited way too long to get an edge rusher in my mock. There just wasn’t anyone available who I really liked in the earlier rounds other than Ferguson, and by the time I got to the sixth, I picked up an edge rusher for the sake of picking up an edge rusher. Not my finest moment, but mistakes happen. Ray is better in a 3-4, so he really isn’t likely to go to the Chiefs. Let’s move on to the interior defensive line pick by the autodraft. At 6-1, 322 pounds, Gaines is a compact lineman. He lacks length, but he could be a good developmental pick for his potential against the run.

Round 7, 216: Hamp Cheevers, CB, vs. Dravon Askew-Henry, S

So we both concluded our drafts by getting more help in the secondary.

Given all of the Chiefs’ woes in that area last season, this is hardly surprising. Big fan of Hamp Cheevers’ name. And given that I drafted back-to-back Boston College guys with the final two picks, I guess I just had the Eagles on my mind. As a junior, Cheevers was an All-ACC first team selection and seven interceptions. I think he’s worth taking a chance on. As for Askew-Henry, the safety out of West Virginia, started 51 games in his collegiate career. He has connections to the pros, too: his cousin is Darrelle Revis. Askew-Henry didn’t get an invite to the NFL Combine, but he had a decent Pro Day with a 4.53 40-yard dash and 18 reps on the bench press.

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Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.