To Draft Or Not To Draft: Justin Harrell

Every year there is player in the NFL Draft that rises from the second round into the first. This year that player could be Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell.

I realize names like Ryan Sims, Eddie Freeman and Junior Siavii are still fresh in the minds of every single Chiefs fan, but this kid might actually have an NFL future.

Harrell is a beast, a space-eater and was a man among boys in the SEC. At Tennessee he was a solid performer in the middle of the Vols' defensive line. He wasn't dominating at the line of scrimmage, but he knew how to close on ball carriers. He has a quick first step and a relentless motor.

Those are all positives, none of which Sims, Freeman or Siavii possessed.

When the season ended last January in a playoff loss to the Colts, one thing became clear about the Chiefs interior defense - they were better but still have a distance to travel if Kansas City is to become a Top 10 defense.

As the top pick a year ago, Tamba Hali showed great promise in 2006 and he'll only get better this season. But with Jared Allen facing a long term suspension to start the season the Chiefs must get strong play from the interior of the defensive line.

Kansas City added Chicago Bears defensive tackle Alphonso Boone and re-signed veterans Jimmy Wilkerson, Ron Edwards and James Reed in the spring, but this group of veterans isn't going to dominate anyone. Every single championship defense has a massive body up front that commands double teams, and the Chiefs still need one.

So Harrell might be a good choice at the 23rd pick. In addition to his physical talents, he's coachable.

Last year the Chiefs chose Hali because he possessed that same attribute. He had great college coaching at Penn State (in the form of Larry Johnson, Sr.), and so did Harrell at Tennessee. That is something the Chiefs organization factored in when they selected each of their seven picks a year ago.

Under Vermeil, the Chiefs relied on a feeling or what someone else said when they picked defensive tackles. That isn't likely to happen again under Bill Kuharich. Even though I still say he's probably an early second-round talent, don't be shocked if the Chiefs take Harrell with their first pick.

Monday - Brady Quinn
Tuesday: Justin Harrell
Wednesday: Ted Ginn, Jr.
Thursday: Chris Houston
Friday: Ben Grubbs

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories