It seems more and more draft analysts these days are predicting the Chiefs will take a receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft, and really, that makes a lot of sense to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah.
Jeremiah — who spent several years as an NFL scout (including a stint under Chiefs coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia) before he got into the draft prediction game — said the combination of need (for the Chiefs) and the wealth of talent at the position makes the Chiefs-take-a-receiver prediction a fairly easy one for draftniks.
“I’ve been around Andy Reid for a couple years in Philadelphia,” Jeremiah said on a conference call Thursday. “He likes to have guys that can stretch the field on the outside on offense, and with the depth we have at receiver in this draft, man, I would be shocked if there’s not somebody there he thinks he can plug in that can really take the top of a defense, which I think is gonna benefit their running game tremendously and open things up in that offense.”
But while there’s no shortage of talent in this draft — many have called this one of the most talent-laden groups in years — Jeremiah said there’s a couple traits to look for in any potential draft pick by Reid, but the first one is “explosiveness.”
“He wholeheartedly believes in explosive plays and explosive players, and that’s why I talk about getting a receiver that can really stretch the field and get you some of those chunk plays,” Jeremiah said. “And on the defensive side of the ball, (he wants) guys that can take the football away, guys that can get it to the quarterback.”
The second trait Reid looks for, according to Jeremiah, is “energy.”
“It’s a long season, especially as you’re getting into the playoffs, and that’s a lot of time spent together as a team,” Jeremiah said. “He wanted guys that brought energy to their meeting room, to the practice field. He thought that was contagious.”
So considering all that, Jeremiah — whose most recent mock draft came out on April 9 — predicted the Chiefs will take a player who has both of those traits in spades, and also happens to be a receiver.
“We’ve had a lot of prospects come through the network here for ‘Path to the Draft,’ and Brandin Cooks from Oregon State, he brings so much energy and he is an explosive player,” Jeremiah said. “So I think of an Andy Reid type of player, to me, that’s the image I have in my mind — Brandin Cooks.”
Cooks is not the biggest guy in the world — he’s 5 feet 10 and 189 pounds — but was among the combine’s best testers at his position. He was incredibly productive in 2013, when he racked up 128 catches for 1,730 yards and won the Biletnikoff Award as the college football’s best receiver.
Cooks is one of several receivers who have been projected to the Chiefs, along with Southern California’s Marqise Lee, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin.
Fellow NFL.com draft analyst Charles Davis, who was also on the conference call, has the Chiefs selecting Benjamin in his latest mock draft. He says, however, the depth at the position means the Chiefs could go with another position in the first round and address their need at receiver with their next pick, in the third round.
“I don’t think it necessarily has to be a first-round guy,” Davis said. “Because I think there are a few receivers, as you go down the line, that can do exactly what Daniel said, (that) can run and can stretch the defense and give Andy Reid what he’s looking for.”
If the Chiefs do go in another direction, Jeremiah said he wouldn’t be surprised if it’s on the defensive line. During Reid’s 14-year tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles took six defensive linemen in the first round, the most of any position.
“Defensive line is a way you could go,” Jeremiah said. “A big-bodied player you could plug in there (like) Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota. ... You could watch games where he does nothing, just completely disappears. Flip on other games and you see some real dominant stretches. Just has a rare combination of size and athleticism, just one of these guys that hasn’t put it together. The way I’m describing it, it almost sounds a little bit like a similar version of Dontari Poe.”
With Poe coming off his first Pro Bowl in only his second season, Chiefs fans already know how that turned out.
“I know it was a previous regime,” Jeremiah said. “But they gambled on upside, and I thought they won big on that one. So, yeah, a defensive end like a Ra’Shede Hageman or even Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame, someone who gives a little more pass rush but can also be a five-technique and hold the point of attack, I think those two guys are the (other) options.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.
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