1. Linebacker Derrick Johnson – Texas
The Good: First and foremost the fact that Derrick Johnson slipped to the 15th pick of the first round was a continuation of the Chiefs recent good fortunes. After signing the premier cornerback in the NFL a day earlier, Kansas City anxiously waited to strike gold by drafting the one player that they thought could become an instant star on the Chiefs defense. He was the most complete and purest linebacker in the draft and Kansas City was fortunate to have him fall into their laps.
The superlatives on Johnson are endless. He's fast, he makes plays, he has a nose for the football and he creates turnovers. What more can you ask from one of the key cogs in your revamped defense? Well the temptation is to say that Johnson can do it. I think he can and so do the Chiefs. Last year's co-defensive coordinator Greg Robinson coached Johnson in Texas and he told Vermeil that he was the finest linebacker prospect he'd ever seen. That's good enough for me.
The Not-So Good: Kansas City is so desperate to upgrade the defense that the pressure on Johnson will be immense. That does not bother me that much because Johnson played under a great amount of pressure at Texas. But the jump to the NFL from college is hard at any position but I believe Johnson can handle that as well. What does bother me though is if the Chiefs try and change his playing style too much.
Yes he does not take on blockers like NFL teams demand from their linebackers but that's not his strength. He runs around people and not through them. That style fuels his playmaking abilities. The Chiefs can't cut off the lifeblood that runs the Johnson machine. They need to allow him to use that speed to be a disrupter penetrated and a difference maker on defense. If they do that, then he'll create havoc and cause turnovers. If the Chiefs force him to be more physical than he's capable of especially his first season, it will take away from his natural ability and stunt his growth.
2. Cornerback Patrick Surtain – Obtained Trade with Miami
The Good: I say this with no hesitation whatsoever. Patrick Surtain is the best cornerback in the NFL. He has everything you want in a starting cornerback. He can play up on the line of scrimmage or he play ten yards off a receiver and recover in plenty of time to knock the ball away or intercept an errant pass.
Surtain has an instinct that you can't teach; you can't even begin to understand it because he's so gifted and fluid on the football field. And the best part is that his best football is ahead of him. That's down right scary. But the icing on the cake for me is the fact he wanted to come and play for the Kansas City Chiefs. He wanted to take on the responsibility of being the finishing piece to the puzzle that rebuilds the Kansas City defense. Unlike Samari Rolle who did not want to be viewed as the savior or take on the responsibility, Surtain is ready to lead and teach his teammates what can be accomplished when everybody works together. He also won't let his large contract get in the way of the job he has to do on the field and in the locker room.
The Not-So Good: Honestly, I can't think of any. Outside of an injury there is nothing that will prevent Surtain from being everything that the Chiefs need him to be.
3. Punter Dustin Colquitt – Tennessee
The Good: At first I shook my head with the selection but it took me about five seconds to realize what an intelligent and wise choice this was for the Chiefs. With the parade of punters that have gone through the halls of Arrowhead, Colquitt quite likely will be the punter for the next decade or more for the Chiefs. His lineage can be traced to his father, who punted on a pair of Super Bowl teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70's.
But the think that makes him so unique is the fact he's left footed. That gives him such a huge advantage because the spin on the ball is very difficult for return men to catch. Remarkably in his four year career as the Vols Punter; opponents dropped 24 punts that created turnovers. Divide that by four and that's six games per year that just the natural spin of the punt caused a fumble and created a turnover. Now with field position and turnovers so important in the NFL; imagine if the Chiefs had six turnovers deep in their opponents territory; that might have equated to four, five or six more wins. He's also a master at pinning the ball inside the 10-yard line. He can directional punt which is unique because most NFL teams shy away from punters who have that ability.
Not-So Good: I'm hard pressed to find anything bad about Colquitt but he does have a tendency to alter his mechanics too much. Like a golfer he tinkers a lot with his stroke. He is so well schooled in the art of punting that he tends to over analyze the situation and sometimes knocks off a bad punt. Still based on what we've had in Kansas City the last three years; he should be able to allow Chiefs Head Coach to relax when he's in the game.
4. Wide Receiver Craphonso Thorpe – Florida State
The Good: As the second day of the draft began, Scout.com ranked the best available players still on the board on Sunday. Guess who was the #1 choice? None other than Craphonso Thorpe. A serious and potentially career ending broken leg at the end of the 2003 season almost cut short his career. But in a remarkable show of courage, he was able to return to the team in 2004 and play in 11 games for the Seminoles. Though his numbers fell off from his junior season; he still managed to catch 40 passes. That drop off and the injury caused his stock to fall. But the intangible and the heart he displayed to get back on the field in such a short time; can't be questioned. That should put to rest some of the talk that he's not tough enough to play in the NFL.
What Thorpe brings to the game is speed. Not many 6'0" guys who weigh in at 190 have 4.45 speed; its' even more impressive that he regained all of his speed after shattering his leg. With the Chiefs likely cutting Johnnie Morton in June, Kansas City hopes Thorpe can develop into an offensive threat this season. If Kansas City can pair him with last years 4th rounder Samie Parker; they'll have the fastest pair of receivers in the division. Now they won't be compared to the skill level of the Raiders Randy Moss and Jerry Porter but where they lack their size Parker and Thorpe have much more speed.
Not-So Good: If reports about his lack of focus in practice are accurate, that won't be good for his chances of making a contribution to the Chiefs in 2005 and beyond. The other knock on Thorpe is his unwillingness to go over the middle to catch passes in traffic. But that was the same knock Samie Parker had a year ago coming out of college and he showed an ability to do that once he got his feet grounded in the NFL. His hands are extraordinary but he needs to develop better downfield skills in pass patterns. He needs to learn to run better routes because the Chiefs need him to do more than just be successful on go-routes.
5A. Linebacker James Boomer Grigsby – Illinois State
It took about one minute after talking to Grigsby on the post selection conference call to make me realize that he'll be playing in the NFL for the next 10 years. He has such an infectious personality and quite honestly he is a breath of fresh air. He'll fit right in next to his friend Jared Allen and I've already nicknamed the duo; (The Country Boys).
Boomer will do for the Chiefs what Monty Beisel did for them the last three seasons. He'll be a special teams demon and occasionally fill in at linebacker. I would not count him out in the near future to eventually becoming a starter for this defense in a couple of years. He reminds me a great deal of Miami's Zach Thomas. In fact, he could get extensive playing time this year because he's so confident in his abilities. What separates him from many drafted on the second day is his never ending motor on the field. You can't coach that and if the Chiefs can channel that enthusiasm into being more disciplined on the field; they'll have a steal with their fifth round pick and more depth at linebacker this season.
Not-So Good: All the positives I mentioned could also be negatives as well. He makes plays but he's not the fastest guy on the team and finding the right position for him could be a challenge for the Chiefs. He has the mentality to be a middle linebacker and working behind Kendrell Bell could be daunting for the young Chief. I don't think he can play on the outside and that's where the Chiefs need the most help. His value will be even further increased if Mike Maslowski is not able to return this season. If he doesn't, then the Chiefs should retain Maz to work with Boomer because they are virtually the same player.
5B. Cornerback Alphonso Hodge – Miami (Ohio)
The Good: The Chiefs needed to bring in another cornerback besides Patrick Surtain. Though there is no comparison between the two; the Chiefs simply took the best cornerback left on the board in the fifth round. Hodge has decent cover skills and most teams shied away from his side of the field. That allowed him to develop good run support skills. He had 51 tackles last season and is not afraid to help out the defensive front seven. He has excellent speed running a 4.36 forty time at the NFL combines. He's main job will be to push incumbent nickel backs, Dexter McCleon, Benny Sapp, William Bartee and Julian Battle to make them all better. If he does that, this pick is a good one for the Chiefs.
Not-So Good: Hodge did not intercept one pass in college. Not once in four years did he take the ball away from an opposing quarterback. That is a startling statistic. That means his technique needs work and he does not have a nose for the football. He often gets turned around in coverage but uses his speed to bail him out when he gets beat down the field. If the Chiefs can teach him a few things that can improve his footwork and his on the field awareness; he could be a decent pick in the 5th spot. If not, he'll fit right in with some of the rosters current underachievers at the cornerback position.
5C. Defensive End Carlos Hall –Obtained Trade with Tennessee
The Good: Even though this trade was made several weeks ago it's importance and value should not be overlooked. Hall has one of the best motors in the game and has the ability despite his weight to be an effective pass rusher. He can also stop the run and be the type of impact defensive end that could really push incumbents Jared Allen and Eric Hicks for starting positions. Hall's statistics have gone down the last two years but that can be attributed to the fact Jevon Kearse was not playing opposite of him. When Hall has a productive pass rusher working on the other side, he's much more effective.
Not-So Good: One of the reasons the Titans let him go was because of the fact Hall sometimes turns off his motor. He would play without passion and often over pursued the quarterback or didn't give enough effort in stopping the run. None of those are good attributes but at least those weaknesses can be coached. Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was a coach on the Titans staff when Hall broke into the league as a 7th round draft choice. He knows him better than anyone. Hall also knows a big year could land him a long term multi-million dollar contract and that should be plenty of motivation to play beyond his potential.
6A. Tackle Will Svitek – Stanford
The Good:The last four years Svitek has been playing defensive end for the Cardinal. He's a big man at 6' 6" and still has decent footwork for a man tipping the scales just over 300 pounds. But the Chiefs are planning on converting him to an offensive lineman. They think he'll be able to make the switch. He's a two time Academic All-American so they know he has the smarts to make the conversion from defense to offense. The Chiefs did spend some time with Svitek earlier in the month as he was one of the 20 college players they brought in before the draft.
Not-So Good: Converting any player from defense to offense can be a challenge to say the least. But the Chiefs think they can do that with Svitek. He was not real adept at being a pass rusher in college and he needs a lot of work in using his weight to create leverage advantages. He does not have a quick first step but going forward as a pass rusher is one thing compared to reversing that footwork to drop back and plant his feet in pass coverage. This is a project but in the 6th round why not give it a try.
6B. Defensive End Khari Long – Baylor
The Good: This could end up being the best pick of the second day outside of Thorpe for the Chiefs. At Baylor, Long was a play maker and has developed good skills rushing the passer. He also can assist in run defense but like first rounder Derrick Johnson he has great speed and can close quickly on a quarterback or a running back. He also has an advantage making the transition to the NFL because he played five seasons of college ball. Last season he recorded 58 tackles (36 solo) and was a bright light on the Bears defensive unit. He could develop into another Gary Stills for the Chiefs but he'll need to add some weight to his frame if they keep him at defensive end. I could see the Chiefs moving Long back to linebacker and that might be something to watch in training camp.
Not-So Good: Honestly outside of his size and the fact that he's a tweener. There is little to knock him about. He's improved every year and he's growing more comfortable in his game. But can make the leap to the NFL and even further leap ahead of Boomer Grigsby, Keyaron Fox, Quentin Caver or Rich Scanlon. He'll need to play well on special teams but this project has some productive upsides for the Chiefs.
7A. Quarterback James Kilian – Tulsa
The Good: The Chiefs had set out to draft a young quarterback this weekend and they found one in Kilian. Known more for his scrambling ability and coolness in the pocket, he is a long term project. For the 7th round this was a solid choice and with a lot of tutelage could develop into a back-up down the road. Chiefs quarterbacks coach Terry Shea personally worked him out and he liked him a lot. Tulsa ran a vanilla version of the Chiefs offense the last several years so learning the playbook won't be an issue for Kilian.
Not-So Good: He throws a lot of interceptions and does not have a very good down the field ball. Well neither did Joe Montana but Kilian is not of that lineage. He does have tremendous pocket awareness but often too many times the last two seasons; he left the pocket and was not willing to wait for his receivers to get open. Honestly this is a guy who adds an arm in training camp and with three quarterbacks ahead of him; won't get much playing time in the exhibition games. Looks like a practice squad guy.
7B.<.B> Tackle Jeremy Parquet – Southern Mississippi
The Good: At 6' 6" tall weighing in at 321 pounds, Parquet has the physical size to be a dominating left tackle in the NFL. He has a good first drop step and when he uses his weight to leverage oncoming pass rushers he can easily push them away from the pocket. He has the skills to be a starter in the NFL but needs to become more polished.
Not-So Good: Has had troubles staying focused and when his mechanics go south, he generally gets beat by ordinary pass rushers. Meaning those that way 40-50 pounds less get the best of him from time to time. In the NFL it only takes one time to kill the momentum of a game. That's not good and it cost him from being a first day draft choice. If the Chiefs can improve his work ethic and in turn him around this could be the guy who eventually replaces Willie Roaf in a couple of years. If not, well then its just a 7th round pick.