After weeks and weeks of claiming this would be a defensive draft, the Kansas
City Chiefs raised a few eyebrows by picking Penn State running back Larry
Johnson with the 27th pick in the first round. Here is a look at the Chiefs'
First round: Larry Johnson, RB, Penn State - Kansas City put fear in the hearts of all fans by picking Johnson, who rushed for 2,087 yards and 20 touchdowns in his only starting season for the Nittany Lions, after trading down from the 16th pick with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Chiefs claimed Johnson is "insurance" for Priest Holmes, one has to wonder if Kansas City truly believes Holmes will be ready for training camp. The truth is Holmes was overused for the last two seasons and the wear and tear on him was inevitable. Even if Holmes is 100 percent, he needs a competent backup that can carry the ball 10-15 times a game. Mike Cloud wasn't the answer and there are doubts whether Johnson will be either. At 6-1, 228 pounds, Johnson is solid with good size and speed. He can cut upfield and has good vision. He also has good hands, catching 41 passes last season. The knock on Johnson is that he runs too upright.
Against tough competition (Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State), Johnson rushed for
only 212 yards. But he was the best running back available at the time. Johnson
will have more carries this season than most people think.
Second round: Kawika Mitchell, MLB, South Florida -
With some salivating at the chance of picking up Kansas State linebacker Terry
Pierce, the Chiefs opted for a lesser-known but equally talented prospect.
Mitchell, at 6-0 and 253 pounds, has good speed (4.66 in the 40-yard dash) for
his size. He shot up draft boards after his workouts, impressing many with his
strength (410-pound bench press) and leaping abilty (37-inch vertical). Mitchell
can run from sideline-to-sideline and cover tight ends and running backs in pass
coverage. Don't be surprised if he pushes Mike Maslowski for playing time. The
Chiefs might have reached a little to get him, but this wasn't a bad pick. He
will have an impact on special teams immediately.
Third round: Julian Battle, S/CB, Tennessee - Drafted
strictly for potential, Battle has first-round athletic ability, but didn't
translate it to the field in college. Battle started every game in two
seasons with the Vols. The Chiefs will work him at cornerback where he has great
size (6-2, 205 pounds) for the position. He started at safety for the Vols, but
did work a little on an island. He's also known as a hitter. Battle did have
some discipline problems at Tennessee. He will have to work on his technique to
get any playing time. The Chiefs made Eric Warfield, who has less raw ability,
into a serviceable corner, so there is hope for Battle. This pick came in the
trade with Pittsburgh.
Fourth round: Brett Williams, OT, Florida State - If
he fulfills his potential, Williams could be a replacement for starter John Tait
on the right side in 2004. Williams slid down most draft boards because he lacks
lower body strength, but Williams does have good hands and size (6-5, 321
pounds). A two-time Jacobs Trophy winner, Williams is known as a above-average
pass blocker. A solid value pick in this round.
Fifth round: Jordan Black, OT, Notre Dame - Black is more of a reach than Williams and will have to fight to make the team. Labled an underachiever by Dick Vermeil, Black is not blessed with enough quickness to play left tackle. At 6-5, 314, Black lacks the power to be a punishing run defender. Smith started 11-of-12 games for Notre Dame last season, missing the final game for violating team rules. A long shot at best.
Sixth round - Jimmy Wilkerson, DE, Oklahoma - Wilkerson could be a steal with this late pick. A true junior who still has room to grow, Wilkerson came out too early and suffered for it. He has second or third-round ability if he would have stayed in Norman. Wilkerson, 6-2 and 271 pounds, was a quarterback and linebacker in high school. He started all 14 games last season and picked up six sacks. Wilkerson is small for his position, but has a good first move off the line. He's still learning to play the game. A perfect candidate for the practice squad if he doesn't make the active roster.
Seventh round: Montique Sharpe, DT, Wake Forest - Sharpe will have to impress to make the team. The Chiefs have several players who do what he does. An above-average run stopper at 6-1 and 295 pounds, Sharpe doesn't create enough push to get in the backfield.
Seventh round: Willie Pyle, FS, Georgia Tech - Pyle started
every game for the Yellowjackets the last three years, but he lacks the speed to
cover in the open field at the NFL level. The Chiefs have good depth at this
position and he will have to beat out Lyle West or Shaunard Harts to make the
Grade for the draft: There wasn't much sizzle to the draft, but the Chiefs did add depth to some very important positions. A little better than average - C+