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KC Chiefs and AFC West NFL Draft grades

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Outside of mock drafts, the most useless but popular things that NFL fans love are instantaneous draft grades. It’s a Twitter world and patience is dead. None of these players have set foot on the practice field yet, but that won’t stop your KC Chiefs Examiner from giving you his gut reaction draft grades for the Chiefs and their AFC West foes, the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and San Diego Chargers.

Kansas City Chiefs: B

1 (23) Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn.

2 (would have been #56) Pro Bowl QB Alex Smith

3 (87) Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice.

4 (124) De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon.

5 (163) Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia.

6 (193) Zach Fulton, G, Tennessee.

6 (200) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill University.

Like everything else in Kansas City, most experts hate this draft. (Paranoid and persecuted? Who, me?) You would think that by taking Dee Ford with their first pick instead of the wide receiver the mock draft guys thought they would take, the Chiefs were the NFL version of a lobotomized crack addict who can’t be trusted with the TV remote, much less valuable draft picks. Of course, then the talking heads on radio and TV spent the next three days telling everyone that “you can never have enough pass rushers in this league!!” Ok Slick, call me next year when Ford buries Philip Rivers and Matt Schaub for a couple of sacks in their first games against each other.

On the other hand, I’m not going to lie … it was difficult to see the Chiefs with only 6 picks for the draft when teams like the Rams and 49ers seemingly had four pics per round. I think fans (and myself included) got a little over-agitated by the fact that the team didn’t have a second-round pick from the Alex Smith trade last year. Smith is no Manning or Brady to be sure, but the second half of last year showed he is a legit top-10 quarterback and will be more integral to success in KC than any player available at #56 would ever be.

I have no problem with their first two draft picks this year as they got a talented pass rusher in Ford who will contribute beginning on Day 1, but won’t shoulder the pass rushing load by himself. Gaines at corner has the speed to stay with someone like … I don’t know … T.Y. Hilton in a playoff game where you have a huge halftime lead. The football gods gave Andy Reid a more talented version of Dexter McCluster when Thomas dropped to the fourth round, while Aaron Murray is the kind of quarterback that can look good in Reid’s system for a handful of games and then get the team some draft picks back in a trade or if he sign a big free agent contract (think: Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn, etc). Who knows? Maybe if he becomes really good, Murray becomes another Trent Green in KC?

Odds are that neither of the last two picks will make an impact for a year or two – if at all – but both possess the kind of intangibles that make them a great value for where they were taken. The more I have researched Duvernay-Tardif, the more the name “Dave Szott” pops into my head. I think he might eventually move to guard and then 10 years from now, he may be the one player from this draft that is still on the team.

As far as team needs going into this year, the Chiefs still could have used a wide receiver but Ford will help win more games in 2014 than USC wide receiver Marqise Lee would have in the first round. The coaching staff is putting all their eggs for safety, their other position of need, in 2014 in Eric Berry, Sanders Commings, and Hussain Abdullah.

Denver Broncos: B

1 (31) Bradley Roby, DB. Ohio State

2 (56) Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

3 (95) Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan

5 (156) Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU

6 (207) Matt Paradis, C, Boise State

7 (242) Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma

Let’s be honest … the Broncos did most of their damage in the free agency wars and getting #18 to come back for another year of chasing records. I can’t shake the feeling that Roby is going to be a hit-or-miss corner, but he provides critical athleticism and depth at a position of need. Latimer hurts Chiefs fans only in the fact that the Broncos picked him in the exact spot the Chiefs gave up in the Alex Smith trade and the Chiefs probably would have him on Day 1. But in Denver, by the time Latimer becomes a real factor, Peyton Manning will be retired.

Still, the Broncos did what most defending conference champs do, they used the draft to add quality depth to an already powerful squad and their formula for success remains the same: keep Peyton upright and throwing the ball.

Oakland Raiders: A-

1 (5) Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo

2 (36) Derek Carr, QB. Fresno State

3 (81) Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State

4 (107) Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech

4 (116) Keith McGill, DB, Utah

7 (219) T.J. Carrie, DB, Ohio

7 (235) Shelby Harris, DE, Illinois

7 (247) Jonathan Dowling, DB, Western Kentucky

Yes, my readers … it pains me to give the Raiders an “A” in anything, but let’s be honest. They’ve had a terrific off-season!!

The final success of this draft will be determined if Carr gives the Raiders something they haven’t possessed since Rich Gannon retired – stability at the QB position. For 2014, Oakland has Matt Schaub who can at least start for the year as Carr learns the game better. As a Chiefs fan, it really hurt to see the Silver and Black get Mack, who I think might end up being one of the best players in the draft. I will definitely say that if Mack had been in last year’s draft when the Chiefs had the first pick, he’d probably be wearing a red jersey this year. Jackson will start on Day 1 on the O-line, and McGill was a freaking STEAL in the fourth round! The rest of their draft has some intriguing developmental players. The Raiders have been in bad pick/salary cap hell for a few years, but GM Reggie McKenzie has their arrow pointing up for sure.

San Diego Chargers: B-

1 (25) Jason Verrett, DB, TCU

2 (50) Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech

3 (89) Chris Watt, G, Notre Dame

5 (165) Ryan Carrethers, DT, Arkansas State

6 (201) Marlon Grice, RB, Arizona State

7 (240) Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor

Much like the Chiefs, San Diego was a bit hamstrung by only having six picks in the draft, but they had a solid if not spectacular three days in New York. Well, the first two days, at least.

Verrett is small, but he reminds me of a Kevin Ross-type who is always in the right place at the right time. He’ll begin his career as a nickel back, where he won’t have to cover the Demaryius Thomases or Calvin Johnsons of the world. Attaochu won’t necessarily be forced into action early but he is a terrific pass rusher who could become very familiar with Alex Smith next year. Watt is a grinder who will challenge for playing time, but the last three picks are just kind of forgettable. Especially Grice who will be #4 or 5 on the depth chart at RB.

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