Chiefs headlines for Friday, April 23
OT Russell Okung to Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs surprised many across the NFL when they released both of their starting offensive tackles in an effort to clear cap space. Granted, Eric Fisher tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills, and Mitchell Schwartz is recovering from back surgery.
But it was still a shock, especially after watching Patrick Mahomes run for his life for most of the Super Bowl LV defeat against the Bucs.
The Chiefs signed Mike Remmers as a possible starter at right tackle, but as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote recently, Mahomes’ blind side remains a huge area of concern.
“Picking 31st overall in April’s draft doesn’t ensure landing a top tackle,” he wrote. “They’ve checked in on veteran free agent Russell Okung. It wouldn’t surprise if the Chiefs at least explore an Orlando Brown trade.”
A trade for Brown would be expensive, both in terms of draft capital and salary resources. That’s not going to be easy for a team with the next-to-last pick in Round 1 and just $12.4 million in cap space.
Signing veteran Russell Okung is far from a sure bet. The 32-year-old has played in just 13 games over the past two years because of injuries, including blood clots in his lungs.
But Okung is also a two-time Pro Bowler who (when healthy) is a plus blocker both in the running game and in pass protection. Over 1,792 snaps in 2017 and 2018, he gave up just five sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Signing him would be a gamble. But if the price is right, it’s one worth taking for the back-to-back AFC champs.
Jayson Oweh EDGE
Jayson Oweh was the leading vote getter among players that had not yet been taken.
Kimes was asking the question in response to an article about how popular Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle is among NFL coaches. Her point seemed to be that scheme fit and ensuring a smaller receiver with speed is used properly is almost as important as the player’s overall ability. Hill fits what Andy Reid and the Chiefs want to do perfectly and his connection with Patrick Mahomes makes both of them better.
Hill may have taken it as a bit of a slight because he quickly responded:
Round 1 – Pick 31
Christian Barmore DL
Barmore and Chris Jones would give the Chiefs two big, pass-rushing specialists at defensive tackle.
Following the announcement, our friends over at Touchdown Wire released a brand new ranking of the uniforms of all 32 NFL teams. The Bengals’ redesign landed at No. 23, which is fair, especially before you really get to see them in action. You might be surprised by where the Kansas City Chiefs’ uniforms landed on the list. Mark Lane has them listed at No. 6 and here’s why:
“It could be considered a ketchup and mustard color scheme, but the Chiefs have always left the yellow as an accent color and gone with red and white. The moderation of yellow is what makes the uniform work, unlike some other teams. The old AFL patch also makes the team look as timeless, as though Hank Stram should be on the sidelines.”
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs get: 1-12, 2022 fifth-round pick
Philadelphia Eagles get: 1-31, 2-63, 2022 second-round pick, WR Mecole Hardman
A lot of teams in the NFL will try to pretend at one point or another that they’re one player away from winning the Super Bowl. The Chiefs might actually have been one good left tackle away from back-to-back titles, given how quickly their offense fell apart without Eric Fisher against the Buccaneers. We know Andy Reid takes left tackle very seriously; he traded a first-round pick to the Bills for Jason Peters during his time with the Eagles and made Fisher his first draft pick after joining Kansas City.
This would be a lot to give up for one player, but the Chiefs might think left tackle is just that important. By getting ahead of the Chargers and Vikings, Kansas City could have its pick of the non-Penei Sewell left tackles in the class.
By making a deal with their old coach, the Eagles would get a first-round pick, two second-rounders and add a wide receiver with upside to their roster in Hardman, whose role with the Chiefs is capped by the presence of Tyreek Hill.
Around the NFL
The Case for a Pass Catcher
This is considered to be a deep class of offensive tackle prospects. Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin thinks so, too.
“There are guys that will be available in the second, third rounds that have starter grades on them,” Tobin told the team site earlier this month. “Maybe they’ll last longer than that, too. It’s a position group we’ve been focused on and we think having healthy guys there and the addition of Riley Reiff, we think we’re in a better spot than we were and there’ll be additions.”
Let’s imagine Cincinnati is content with waiting to address tackle at the top of the second round, with pick no. 38. At no. 5, the Bengals could choose from a handful of possible pass-catching targets, depending on who is taken fourth. There are rumors that the Falcons, should they maintain their position, could choose Pitts. If Pitts is available for Cincinnati, though, he’d serve as a huge upgrade. The Bengals tight end room consists of Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah, neither of whom has ever recorded more than 500 yards in a season. Many draft experts consider Pitts to be a generational tight end prospect, and his skill set could give Cincinnati a true difference-maker in the passing game.
Don’t count Tom Brady as one of those losing themselves in a freer football future.
Brady took to Instagram on Thursday to voice his very strong issue with the league’s numbering change, which allows any defensive back to wear 1-49, and any linebacker to wear 1-59 and 90-99, among other possibilities. Brady posted the graphic explaining the approved rule change to his Instagram story, adding the caption “good luck trying to block the right people now!!!! Going to make for a lot of bad football.”
Brady is doubling down hard.
…wonder how he really feels. pic.twitter.com/vcOIGzw2f8
— Chris Mason (@ByChrisMason) April 22, 2021
Under this new rule that has been approved by the owners, the receiving team will be able to have no more than nine players lined up in the “setup zone,” which is the area between 10 and 25 yards of the kickoff spot. In the past, teams routinely put 10 or 11 players in the setup zone in anticipation of the opponent opting for an onside kick. When the league changed the kickoff rules and eliminated a running start on kickoffs, however, the onside kick success rate fell. With fewer players now able to go after the ball, the theory is that onside kicks will have a better chance of being recovered by the kicking team.
Gettleman, who is still in the midst of a rebuild with notable steps taken in 2020 and 2021 free agency, only has six picks in the upcoming draft. A team not quite ready to contend for a Lombardi Trophy might want more picks than that, but there’s also an argument to be made that points toward Gettleman’s free-agent acquisitions as more than enough to bring in just a half dozen rookies via the draft.
The general manager took a moment to explain himself Thursday.
“I’m fine with the number of picks we have in this draft going in,” Gettleman said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m fine with the six. It’s OK with me.”
It’s true, we don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s a big part of the allure of the draft, a timed selection process in which circumstances can change wildly with just a few phone calls.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs may draft a player to play a different position than their college position
Veach’s aggressiveness doesn’t just extend to his willingness to trade up. There are multiple instances of a draft selection transitioning to a different position than the one they played in college. Some were more immediate than others — but nonetheless, Veach has trusted his evaluation enough at times to project a player at another position:
2018 second-round pick Breeland Speaks primarily played as a down lineman at Ole Miss, although he was placed in an off-ball spot situationally. During his rookie season — the only year he played with the team — he was mainly used as a 3-4 Outside Linebacker.
2018 sixth-round pick Tremon Smith was a cornerback and returner at Central Arkansas. While his return skills were utilized during his rookie season, he failed to impress as a cornerback — leading to a transition to running back in the 2019 training camp. He initially made the 53-man roster at that position but was cut leading up to Week 2.
2018 sixth-round pick Kahlil McKenzie was a defensive tackle at Tennessee. The Chiefs turned in their draft card with him labeled as an offensive lineman.
2020 fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed was a safety in his final season at Louisiana Tech, although he did play cornerback in prior seasons. While he was labeled a safety by most pre-draft rankings, the Chiefs considered him a cornerback immediately.
A tweet to make you think
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) April 22, 2021
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