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10 Observations on the Kansas City Chiefs' 2018 Draft

The Chiefs added six new players to their roster

The Kansas City Chiefs' first draft with general manager Brett Veach at the helm is now over.

Over the course of the entire three-day event, there were 256 players whose names were called and dreams that were realized.

The Chiefs, who began this year's draft with a total of eight picks, wound up with six new players to join a nucleus of young talent already on the roster that has high expectations for not only the 2018 season, but beyond as well.

2nd Round (No. 46 overall) - Breeland Speaks – DE/Edge – Ole Miss

3rd Round (No. 75 overall) – Derrick Nnadi – DT – Florida State

3rd Round (No. 100 overall) – Dorian O'Daniel – LB - Clemson

4th Round (No. 124 overall) Armani Watts – S – Texas A&M

6th Round (No. 196 overall) – Tremon Smith – CB – Central Arkansas

6th Round (No. 198 overall) – Kahlil McKenzie – OG – Tennessee

Five Things to Know About:

Here are 10 observations on what transpired for the Chiefs over the past few days:

1.     The trades came, but not quite as early as some thought

Heading into the draft, there was a lot of talk about how aggressive Veach planned on being to move up and get some of the top players he coveted. 

And while the Chiefs did end up trading up three times over the course of the three days, it wasn't quite as high as some had predicted.

"If you were to ask me what the odds were of me getting into round one, I would've said very low," Veach explained after Thursday’s first round. "It didn't mean I wasn't going to try. We certainly had dialogue, but again, it has to make sense for us both now, and in the future. 

"So, when you're talking about multiple picks or when you're talking getting into 2019 picks, it's something we weren't interested in doing."

Here are the three trades the Chiefs ultimately made over the weekend:

No. 46 (Breeland Speaks) – Gave up pick No.'s 54 and 78 to move up with Bengals 

No. 75 (Derrick Nnadi) – Gave up pick No.'s 86 and 122 to move up with the Ravens

No. 198  (Kahlil McKenzie) – Gave up pick No.'s 233 and 243 to move up with the Patriots

2.     From the beginning, the focus was on the defense

The first five picks of the draft for the Chiefs came on the defensive side of the ball—showing a desire to get more young talent on that side of the ball.

And not just younger, Veach has also consistently talked about adding players who bring a certain edge and mindset to the defense.  Based on the evaluations of all the players the Chiefs selected—that seems to be the case.

"If you sit there at 54, you're not going to get this guy," Veach explained of the decision to move up and take Speaks. "You have to affect the quarterback. You can't go out there and play 7‐on‐7, and we looked at it as the last opportunity to get a guy that can affect the quarterback. 

"That's why we did what we did and went up and got him."

Speaks became the first player from Ole Miss to be drafted by the Chiefs since they selected defensive tackle Jerrell Powe in 2011.

Both Veach and head coach Andy Reid praised Speaks' strength, toughness, and ability to disrupt things all over the defensive line. Speaks will work as a standup edge rusher who can slide down and put his hand in the dirt in passing situations. 

Speaks was Pro Football Focus’No. 5-ranked interior pass rusher in this draft, and to get that player all the way at No. 45, was huge for the Chiefs' defense.

3.     The Chiefs' second two selections were all about stopping the run

The Chiefs' pick of Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi was about getting a guy to mix into the defensive line rotation who has a skillset of being difficult to move in the running game.

Nnadi was one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the draft, and Veach even said as much after the pick about that being the focus.

"The need was just to get better," Veach explained. "We weren't happy where we were. You play a home playoff game and the (other) team drives the ball and chews up nine minutes on the clock—that's not good enough. Sometimes it just comes down to having guys who are wired right—guys who want to line up and play four quarters of football. 

"Our need is to just get tougher. That's what these guys did. We feel like these guys did that."

The Chiefs' pick of linebacker Dorian O'Daniel out of Clemson in the third round was about versatility in sub-packages. 

O'Daniel, who checks in around 215 pounds, was one of the best linebackers in the country last year—finishing as a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation's top linebacker. 

O'Daniel is fast, physical, and can cover out in space. He's a great fit for a Chiefs' defense that struggled to stop the run in their non-base defenses, and while traditional depth charts might not reflect his value, the number of snaps O'Daniel could find himself on the field in nickel and/or dime situations, plus the fact that he's a likely four-core special teams player, raises his stock.

The Chiefs now have three Clemson players on the current roster with O'Daniel joining defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins, and receiver Sammy Watkins.

4.     ESPN's draft expert Todd McShay praises Chiefs' pick of Nnadi

Here's what McShay wrote:

"Kansas City is obviously trying to get younger and rebuild its defense, as all six of its 2018 draft picks were on that side of the ball. Help was needed in the middle of the D-line after Bennie Logan's departure and Nnadi is a good football player who was hurt by a bad combine. He's a much better football player than tester. While not a three-down player, he should be able to help at the nose tackle spot in the Chiefs' 3-4 scheme and is NFL ready right now."

5.     Defensive versatility continued with selection of safety Armani Watts

Speaks and O'Daniel are players who could move all around the Chiefs' defense—their versatility, strength, and athletic ability for their size are what make them so valuable.

Watts is of the same mold. He started 42 games in his career at Texas A&M—taking the field in the SEC as a true freshman as the starting free safety, and then moved to strong safety his final two years. He gives defensive coordinator Bob Sutton another versatile talent to find ways to utilize. 

Watts was responsible for 16 turnovers (10 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles) in his career at Texas A&M.

He's also the first defensive back from Texas A&M to be drafted by the Chiefs in the franchise's history.

6.     Chiefs conclude draft with speedy cornerback and a converted defensive lineman

The Chiefs used their final two picks on blazing-fast Central Arkansas cornerback Tremon Smith, who clocked in with a 4.32 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, and former Tennessee defensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie, who will be moving to offensive guard for the Chiefs. 

McKenzie is the son of current Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie, which could make this fun.

"My dad's happy for me," McKenzie told the local media via a conference call after the pick was made. "The rest of the family, they're happy as well. It's just going to make for a lot more family rivalries. We're a competitive family at nature, so we compete at everything we do. This just adds one more ripple into that. 

"I'm excited to get to Kansas City and just help these Chiefs, one, whoop up on the Raiders, and whoop up on the rest of the NFL."

McKenzie should fit in well.

7.     It's the first time ever

Even though McKenzie is *technically *moving to the offensive line, it's still the first time in franchise history that the Chiefs have selected only players who played on the defensive side of the ball in college in a particular draft.

8.     The Chiefs' post-draft grade from the Kansas City Star's Terez Paylor was a good one

Paylor gave the Chiefs an "A" for the 2018 draft class.

Here's part of what Paylor had to say:

"At the end of the day, this class will be judged by many on whether Veach is right on Speaks. And yes, they could still use a tight end that can block — the only area they didn't address in the draft. However, the overall football character of this class appears to be strong, and the whole of it should add a much-needed infusion of energy and youth to the defense…click here for Paylor’s full breakdown."* *



9.     Chiefs didn't pick in the seventh round, again

This marks the third‐consecutive year that the Chiefs haven't selected a player in the 7th round of the NFL Draft.

10.  Several of the players talked about opportunity to play with Eric Berry

We all know that Eric Berry is one of the unquestioned leaders of this Chiefs' team, and the new faces coming to the Chiefs are very aware of that as well. 

Several of the players were asked about the opportunity to come and be in the same defensive room as Berry, and they understand what that means.

"That was my guy growing up," Chiefs' sixth-round pick, cornerback Tremon Smith, explained. "That's who I looked up to. Me learning from that guy, it's going to help me be the best player I can possibly be for sure." 

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