Chiefs Roundtable: Who Will be #1 for KC?

In our Pre-Draft Warpaint Illustrated roundtable, our experts take a stab at which player the Chiefs might take in round one. Plus the impact of Judge Nelson's ruling and the lack of free agency to this point.

The draft is just 24 hours away! Who are your top options at #21?

Nick Athan: I'll post my final pick on this topic this evening. But I do think that Chiefs fans might be in for a surprise. And that surprise either could be a trade out of the first round (not once but twice see New England #21 for #28 in round one then #28 to Buffalo for Pick #2 of the second round) that deal could land the Chiefs at least a trio of second round picks including the first two Friday night) or General Manager Scott Pioli could pick a player nobody expected them to take.

Though that's not been the case in his initial drafts in Kansas City. Something tells me a shocker is coming. And that could mean either the Chiefs take a quarterback or add another pass rushing defensive end. Pioli has marginally whiffed on Defensive End Tyson Jackson. And he could find another solid defensive end with more upside on Thursday night.

Or he could take a young quarterback like Colin Kaepernick of Nevada.

Josh Scotten: In my eyes, the Chiefs have two major needs that have to be addressed in the 2011 NFL Draft: center and nose tackle.

Casey Wiegmann has had an outstanding return to Kansas City, but let's face it -- Wiegmann was never going to be more than a stop gap for the Chiefs. Approaching 38, Wiegmann would be lucky to make it through another season and the Chiefs have no answer as a backup. The Niswanger experiment is officially over and Jon Asamoah appears to be the heir apparent to Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters, which leaves a serious chink in the Chiefs armor.

Mike Pouncey (Florida) and Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State) would be worthy of filling the hole and it appears either could be available at 21. Both players would instantly make an impact on the Chiefs offensive line while legitimizing the Chiefs rushing attack up the middle.

The idea of drafting a highly rated NT is nothing new around KC, but to this point the Chiefs have been swayed against it. This year, however, the Chiefs could not only aid their ailing pass rush but can also kill two birds with one stone by taking a dominant NT.

In adding a presence up the middle, the Chiefs would not only be able to collapse the pocket (QB pressure), but force opposing rushing attacks to the outside to Eric Berry and company. Tamba Hali is a proven sack collector and something tells me if Cameron Sheffield is free from any lingering problems from a neck injury sustained last preseason, he could be the perfect speedy complement to Hali.

Former Baylor Bear Phil Taylor definitely looks the part of a space eating NT, but is now unanimously viewed as the best 3-4 NT in this year's draft class and could be off the board when the Chiefs pick. If Taylor is available to the Chiefs at 21, he holds too much value for the Chiefs to pass on him. If not, I would love to see either Pouncey or Wisniewski.

Missouri Tweener Aldon Smith would be a good choice for the Chiefs at #21.
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Michael Ash: My personal preference is for a player who will help improve the pass rush, but the Chiefs should be in a good position to take the best available player. Ideally, that player will also fill a need, which they still have many of. But with the exception of wide receiver, where there probably won't be much value in the first round, many of the top players still on the board should correspond with team needs.

There should definitely be options for them along the offensive line – an interior player like Mike Pouncey or one of the available tackles – if that's the route they choose to take. Then there are some outside linebacker candidates that will likely be there at #21. After being projected as a higher picks in many earlier mock drafts, a few recent mocks have Missouri's Aldon Smith lasting until the late teens. That could be a situation worth trading up for.

Phil Taylor has been a topic of much discussion, but there's now a lot of talk about a foot issue that may cause him to slip. The Chiefs have met with Taylor a couple times and have surely looked into the off-field issues he had at Penn State, so you'd think they would have checked out the foot problem too. What they discovered in both cases will obviously go a long way towards their decision on him.

Ultimately, unless they pull another Tyson Jackson reach or make another out-of-the-blue Dexter McCluster type pick, there shouldn't be a lot to complain about. I think they would actually have to try to mess it up.

A few weeks ago, Todd Haley said he was excited about "a little plan" the Chiefs have for Thomas Jones next season. What do you think the plan could be? What do you envision Jones' role being in the running game going forward?

Nick Athan: For me I'd rather not see Jones on the Chiefs roster altogether. I think he had more to do with the collapse of the running game late in the season because he was force fed the ball too much.

As a locker room guy he deserves accolades for having the right attitude and really was a positive influence for Jamaal Charles. But he could not hit the holes and lost all of his speed in the second half of the season.

It's imperative that the Chiefs obtain a solid back-up for Charles and to continue to flirt with Jones is only going to reduce the options for Charles. So whatever Haley has in mind, I hope someone changes his mind in short order.

The Chiefs need a younger back-up in 2011 for Jamaal Charles.
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Josh Scotten: Short of a few more wildcat formations featuring Jones as a "quarterback", I don't think you will see much of a difference in the way the Chiefs used Jones from this past season. As much as we all gripped and complained about Jamaal Charles not getting the touches he deserved last year (averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2010), the Chiefs schemed up a plan that worked to perfection.

If they are as keen on their plan for Jones in 2011 as they were in 2010, then there is no reason to doubt Haley and his staff at this point. I just don't see Haley's "plan" as playing that big of role. Haley may have "a little plan" for Jones, but it will be exactly that: little.

Michael Ash: I don't really have any idea of what Haley might have in mind for Jones. The Chiefs have scouted quite a few running backs leading up to the draft, so it seems that's a position they have an eye on. If you believe what Haley said about Dexter McCluster at the combine, McCluster will be used as a running back this year.

If they draft a rookie and move McCluster into the backfield, where would that leave Jones? Given Haley's comment, the only thing I can think of is a possible switch to fullback. I have no idea if that's the plan, but I bet Jones would do well in that role if given the chance.

If Judge Nelson doesn't stay the NFL lockout this week, then free agency won't occur until after the draft. Do you think that will impact the Chiefs' draft strategy? Will they be forced to use the draft to fill some short-term needs?

Nick Athan: I think it'll be impossible for Scott Pioli to hit as many homeruns as he did a year ago without free agency. I've been told that Chairman Clark Hunt gave Pioli the greenlight to spend dollars in free agency. Now that appears to be a moot point.

Don't get me wrong based on Wednesday's court rulings we could still see Free Agency begin before the NFL Draft. That's what teams want to see. And if that were to happen, the NFL frenzy would hit an all time within the fan base.

But that aside, Pioli has to likely trade out of the first round to gain more bodies for his roster and that wasn't the plan when the offseason began. This draft is a bit odd in the sense that outside of the first ten players, everyone else is basically the same player at a particular position. In other words on the rating scale, there are a lot of 6's and 7's that can be had in rounds one, two, three and four.

So that means adding multiple picks in rounds two and three should net the Chiefs some solid young players who can fill enough needs at positions where they are roster light at offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, wide receiver and quarterback.

GM Scott Pioli has to walk a fine line in this weekends NFL Draft.
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Josh Scotten: Filling needs is filling needs regardless of how it accomplished, but I don't foresee the Chiefs' plan changing much on draft day if no deal is struck before April 28th.

From what I understand, the owners/GMs are not allowed to have any contact with players as long as the lockout is in place, but that rule does not attain to agents. Shortly after the 2010 season ended, Scott Pioli mentioned that he would carry on with business as usual, regardless of what happens with the lockout, and I suspect he is continuing to do so.

Most teams, free agents, and most importantly their respective representatives have a pretty good idea of who will sign where at this point, and once the litigation has been sorted out we are sure to see a frenzy of signings within a short period of time.

As has been said here at Warpaint Illustrated many times over the past few months, expect the Chiefs to be one of those active teams when free agency does start. At this point, it's merely a formality of when Pioli can seal the deals in ink.

Michael Ash: Back before all of this became official, I wrote a column on some of the things that would arise in the event of a lockout and sort of previewed this potential problem. Having to draft prior to free agency will be a major adjustment, as there's no way that a team can guarantee they'll be able to sign certain players at a later date.

But with that said, no, I don't think it'll change the Chiefs' strategy. I think Pioli is smart enough not to get pulled into that kind of trap. You have to draft with the long-term goals of the team in mind, and that should be the Chiefs' plan regardless of when free agency occurs.

Had Free Agency began on time would the Chiefs draft be easier to fill gaps or needs?

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