Most in the media will not pinpoint Kansas City as the “winner” of the first round, but I believe that they should be in that conversation.
When I worked with Andy Reid in Philadelphia, we had a philosophy that all of our decisions were based on — dominate the passing game on both sides of the ball.
DEFENSE: Get pressure and do not allow separation
From a defensive standpoint, this means you want to make it as difficult as possible for an opponent to pass effectively against your defense. Bolstering your defensive line is the first step when building a team that can put as much pressure on the opposing quarterback as possible.
The Chiefs’ selection of George Karlaftis at 29th overall adds to a defensive line that is currently composed of Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Derrick Nnadi that was just 29th in the league in sacks last season. The Chiefs were only able to sack Joe Burrow once in the AFC Championship game, one of the many reasons they blew a 28-10 halftime lead and lost in overtime.
Next, you want to build a secondary that is composed of cornerbacks who are smart and driven with outstanding mirroring skills. In other words, someone who can mitigate a Wide receiver’s ability to create separation.
Trading up to take Washington CB Trent McDuffie does just that. He allowed just 16 receptions for 111 yards and 0 touchdowns on 37 targets all last season. He also allowed the 3rd lowest yards/reception and 4th least yard after catch among all draft eligible cornerbacks in the FBS last season.
In order to bolster a defense that gave up more than 4,200 yards through the air last season, it was important for the Chiefs to take a defensive back early in this draft, especially with the departure of Charvarius Ward and Tyrann Mathieu in free agency.
Kansas City used the 29th and 121st overall picks, which they acquired as part of the trade package from moving Tyreek Hill to Miami, as well as the 94th overall pick to move up to 21 and take the Washington cornerback.
All in all, the Chiefs acquired McDuffie, the 50th overall pick, a 2023 4th round pick, and a 2023 6th round pick for Hill.
OFFENSE: Protect the quarterback and have a variety of weapons
On the offensive side of the ball, an offense run by Reid and Patrick Mahomes will always be in good hands and ranked towards the top of the league no matter what. Because of this, General Manager Brett Veach felt comfortable trading away one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers in Tyreek Hill. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith Schuster are both viable receiving options. Rather than pay $30 million per year for a 28-year-old Hill, the Chiefs decided to pay $13.25 million in combined APY for these two UFAs.
The Chiefs receiving group now consists of Travis Kelce, MVS, Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and the often-forgotten Josh Gordon — not to mention Clyde Edwards-Helaire who was at his best in college as a pass catching back out of the backfield. This is a much more balanced receiving core than what they had in 2021 with new additions who can operate on multiple levels of the field.
At times last year, teams were just playing two-deep shell coverages, doubling Tyreek once he got to the second level, and bracketing Kelce with a linebacker. This left Mahomes with limited options and led to a career high number of interceptions thrown. Having a third option will force defenses to play more traditional coverages and allow Mahomes to go through his progressions more easily.
While receivers make the passing game easier, the offensive line is the place where teams invest in order to give their quarterback more time to throw and analyze the defense. The Chiefs have certainly invested in this position group over the past two offseasons after a glaring weakness was exposed in the 31-9 Super Bowl LV loss to the Buccaneers.
Last offseason, the Chiefs signed OG Joe Thuney, traded a first rounder along with three other picks in exchange for LT Orlando Brown and two picks, and drafted C Creed Humphrey in the 2nd round. This offseason, they kept Orlando Brown in the building by franchise tagging him.
This investment of both draft capital and cap dollars in the offensive line is exactly what teams should be doing when looking to keep a franchise quarterback happy and healthy while at the same time dominating the line of scrimmage.
Heading into Days 2 and 3 of the 2022 Draft, look for the Chiefs to continue to bolster their defensive line and secondary. These picks may not make headlines, but they are paramount to dominating the passing game on the defensive side of the ball. Kansas City is in a unique situation where they really can take the best available player on the board due to the lack of glaring needs on the roster.