Watching the NFL Draft on Saturday I was nervously anticipating the Chiefs first round draft pick. I have to admit I wanted them to take USC wide receiver Mike Williams. But he did impact the Chiefs draft but not in the way I had envisioned. After the Washington Redskins drafted Auburn Cornerback Carlos Rogers with the ninth pick, the Detroit Lions shook up the draft just enough by taking Williams with the 10th pick; that meant that Derrick Johnson was a lock to fall to the Chiefs at #15.
But when the Carolina Panthers jumped one spot in front of the Chiefs, we all thought that would kill the dreams of the fans who coveted Johnson. But instead they drafted safety Thomas Davis, who the Chiefs coveted; and that insured Johnson would be the newest member of Gunther Cunningham's revamped defense.
Now the Chiefs before selecting Johnson; did talk to a few teams about trading the pick including the Rams and Eagles but Carl Peterson felt none of the deals on the table would be as valuable as selecting Johnson with the 15th pick of the first round.
What Johnson gives the Chiefs is a premier linebacker on the outside who makes plays. He's not the strongest linebacker in the draft but he's the most complete linebacker of this years draft class. He'll start for the Chiefs next season opposite Scott Fujita and he'll learn a lot from middle linebacker Kendrell Bell.
Johnson gives the Chiefs defense some much needed speed and with his uncanny ability to make plays and create turnovers; Kansas City has cured one of the weakest positions on their team. If this defense is going to be successful in 2005 and beyond; they must get more effort from their linebackers. The Chiefs now have a solid but unproven group but if Kawika Mitchell, Keyaron Fox or Rich Scanlon take the next step in their maturation; this group could become a solid unit. Even further if Shawn Barber can return from major knee surgery; this unit will be able to compete next year in the rugged AFC West and restore the glory of some of its rich history at the linebacker position.
Though he wasn't drafted, Patrick Surtain was our second round pick and there might not be a better NFL cornerback in the game today than the former Miami Dolphin. It took about five minutes of his press conference yesterday to convince me what he'll bring to this defense. He's a quiet assassin who dissects film, studies his opponents and makes plays on the field. He's the best cornerback the Chiefs have had on this roster since James Hasty played for Kansas City.
Surtain will make Eric Warfield an All-Pro. Now the former Nebraska star will have someone opposite him that will allow him to be even more aggressive than he's been allowed to play in recent years. He'll finally become the player the Chiefs envisioned he'd be when he signed that large contract three years ago.
Still I expect the Chiefs to find another cornerback in the second day of the draft though the pickings will be slim today. Numerous teams including the Denver Broncos, who selected three cornerbacks yesterday, will be looking to upgrade their defensive secondary. One name to keep an eye on is Oregon State corner Brandon Browner. He was a sure fire first round pick that had a terrible private workout and his stock has plummeted. With the right tutelage he could be an NFL starter in a couple of years. He's certainly capable of being a nickel back at this level right now and would be an improvement over what the Chiefs currently have on the roster right now.
In the third round, the Chiefs solved another defensive woe when they drafted Tennessee punter Dustin Colquitt. He's arguably the best punter in college over the past several years and he has the uncanny ability to adjust his punting style based on each situation. From lining up the ball on his foot, to adjusting the drop from his hand to his foot, this lefty puts a unique spin on the ball that mean trouble for anyone trying to catch one of his punts.
He's as close to a tactician that you can find at his position and Colquitt comes from a long line of punters including his father, who won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and this two brothers who both kicked at Tennessee. With Colquitt handling the punting duties and the holding duties for kicker Lawrence Tynes; the Chiefs revolving door at this position can be shut once and for all.
On Sunday the Chiefs hope to address needs at linebacker, wide receiver and find a quarterback of the future. They might also address the offensive line considering guard Will Shields has yet to decide to comeback for one more season. Plus Willie Roaf even though he says he wants to play another three of four years, is getting long in the tooth as well.
But regardless of what happens in today's draft, the Chiefs have to feel good about themselves for what they've accomplished this off-season and in the Draft. Still they are not satisfied nor am I. Today is important and if they can find another Samie Parker or Jared Allen or Kevin Sampson for that matter today, then they can give themselves a good pat on the back before they get these players out on the field.