After an impressive 10-6 AFC West-winning campaign in 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs once again slipped in NFL mediocrity by winning just seven games in 2011.
Much of the reasoning for this regression stemmed from a host of devastating injuries that left the team without their strong safety and defensive leader Eric Berry, as well as leading rusher from 2010, Jamaal Charles.
With a return to full operational health and a fruitful 2012 NFL Draft class, Romeo Crennel’s Chiefs look to recapture the divisional crown.
Let’s take a look at Kansas City’s draft selections, both individually and collectively. I’ll evaluate and grade the picks in Round 1-3 in a more thorough fashion, while summarizing the remaining draftees and providing a comprehensive grade.
Round 1 (No. 11 Overall): Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
No single player at his respective position dominated his NFL combine workouts more spectacularly than Dontari Poe.
The defensive tackle pumped out 44 reps on the bench press and ran an unreal 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. The man is 6’3” and 346 pounds.
Despite some inconsistencies on his game tape, Poe should translate his extreme athletic ability onto the football field as a run-stuffing nose tackle for the Chief’s 3-4 defense. He’ll function effectively as a two-gap NT with his massive size, lateral agility and quickness. He won’t necessarily impress as a pass-rusher, but will improve in this area if he develops his skill set beyond violent swim and power moves.
NT Kelly Gregg ranked in the bottom half of the NFL at his position and departed in free agency. Poe will form an impressive 3-4 front between Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. Many will speculate whether Fletcher Cox (picked at No. 12) will prove to have a more impactful NFL career. However, I believe Poe is a better fit schematically with his 346-pound frame.
Round 2 (No. 44 Overall): Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
Barry Richardson, the most certifiably awful right tackle in the NFL in 2011, put a smile on Chief fans’ faces by leaving the team for opportunities else where. Illinois tackle Jeff Allen arrives as a much needed depth-filler behind Eric Winston and the rest of the offensive line.
At 6’4”, 307 pounds, Allen lacks prototypical size for an NFL tackle. With that said, the four-year starter excelled in pass protection in college and looks to continue that effectiveness at the next level. He is balanced, utilizes sound technique with his hands and maintains great awareness.
Scouts project him as a guard until he fully develops. Some indicate that he will compete with Ryan Lilja for the starting left guard spot. Others might have preferred Mike Adams, Bobbie Massie or Mitchell Schwartz as a more promising tackle.
Either way, his proficiency in pass protection and as a pulling lineman in the run game, Allen should fit in rather well with the Chiefs system as either a guard or future right tackle.
Round 3 (No. 74 Overall): Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma
The Chiefs continued to fortify their offensive line with Donald Stephenson out of Oklahoma. He offers good value and upside as a left tackle down the road.
His initial quickness, ability to set the edge and technique against power rushers all rate well above average. He also effectively pulls and gets to the second level as a run blocker. That bodes well for Kansas City’s zone-based scheme.
This was a solid pick by GM Scott Pioli. I would have liked to see him land a legitimate No. 2 wideout behind Dwayne Bowe. Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu was an available option.
Round 4 (No. 107 Overall): Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State, Grade: B+
Arguable reach; tremendous explosiveness/speed; dynamic contributor in passing/return game; good route-runner; effective deep threat; somewhat of a Dexter McCluster clone, but a much more accomplished receiver; durability issues
Round 5 (No. 146 Overall): DeQuan Menzie, CB, Alabama, Grade: B+
Nice value; should fill role of slot corner in nickel/dime packages behind Brandon Flowers, Stanford Routt and fellow member of the Crimson Tide, Javier Arenas; instinctual in coverage; closes well; good ball skills; excellent/physical in run support; played in complex system at Alabama under Nick Saban
Round 6 (No. 182 Overall): Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M, Grade: A-
Can do just about everything with the football; RB, pass-catcher, returner, blocker, any role; disciplined stretch runner to the outside; should hold up in NFL with 5’10”, 206-pound frame; commendable work ethic; team player; Chiefs will love him
Round 7 (No. 218): Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State, Grade: N/A
Filler for the depth chart and practice squad; little information available on this prospect
Round 7 (No. 238 Overall): Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan, Grade: B
Solid value pick; great leaping ability; big body (6’1”, 225 pounds); will provide competition with Jon Baldwin as jump-ball and red-zone target
Overall Grade: B+ (depth at safety is still a concern)