ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 26: A video board displays the text “THE PICK IS IN” for the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – NOVEMBER 13: Jameson Williams #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after he failed to make a touchdown off of a long reception in the second quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies in the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ESPN analyst Todd McShay, who has made NFL draft coverage the cornerstone of his career, released the second iteration of his annual mock draft on Tuesday. If his projections for the Kansas City Chiefs in his latest mock were released as cinema, Todd would be neck and neck with Tommy Wiseau in the competition for the worst filmmaker of all time.
Despite having two picks in each of the first two rounds, the outcome for Kansas City here in this two-round mock included the first-round trade to acquire an injured wide receiver, an adequate pass-rushing addition in the original 30th overall position, and a running back with the—in this instance—lone remaining second-round selection following the trade.
Sure, the Chiefs are in the mix for a first-round receiver selection in the wake of the Tyreek Hill trade, but as we’ve seen in the past via the Mecole Hardman selection in 2019, targeting a direct replacement of Hill is simply not feasible. The most dynamic skill player in football is one of one. Period. Building a draft strategy around acquiring a mirror image of Hill is, and always will be, grasping for straws.
There is no qualm to be had whatsoever with the pass rusher selected with pick number 30, but targeting a running back in the first two days of the draft not only negates the team’s most pressing needs but is a road recently traveled in which the Chiefs are entirely unlikely to pursue again.
From a Chiefs fan perspective, the mock was tone-deaf. Here is how it played out.
In an effort to replace Tyreek Hill’s ability to take the top off the defense and haul in Patrick Mahomes’ deep tosses, McShay has the Chiefs sending picks number 29, 62, and 94 to the Chargers for number 17 overall. It’s an intriguing thought, given the lack of depth in the receiver room today—Josh Gordon being the current fourth option—but that is nowhere near the Chiefs’ top concern right now.
At this point in the mock, for those who have yet to see it, there are three receivers already off the board: Garrett Wilson (4th overall to NYJ), Drake London (8th overall ATL), and Chris Olave (11th overall to WAS). That leaves Jameson Williams as the top-ranked receiver remaining, and at a number of times over the past year, that may have been shocking. At various points throughout the 2021 collegiate season, Williams was regarded as the best receiver in the country, and for good reason. There is great tape on him, and he was an excellent weapon for Alabama last year following his transfer from Ohio State. In this year’s CFP national championship game, Williams suffered a torn ACL which he is expected to rehab up until the fall.
Reports are that he is “ahead of schedule” on his recovery, but it isn’t just the injury that is concerning. Williams’ transfer from Ohio State is what shines through as the greatest concern of his draft cycle. As previously stated, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — in McShay’s mock 2.0 — are off the board before him. Those two were the reason for Williams’s transfer to Alabama, as they were getting far more targets and receiving the spotlight. In 22 career starts for the Buckeyes, Williams received a mere 15 passes for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns. Per the sample size, those numbers are rather impressive, but it highlighted him as one-dimensional.
Upon his transfer to Alabama, where he was catching passes from Bryce Young — widely regarded as QB1 for 2023 — he had a breakout season featuring 79 receptions, 1,572 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Those numbers are incredible, and given the aforementioned lack of depth at receiver in Kansas City, would be welcomed at Arrowhead.
Maybe Jameson Williams will emerge as an All-Pro receiver and construct a Hall of Fame resume similar to Tyreek Hill, but the biggest question to ask as a Chiefs fan is this: will make an attempt to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the offense from 2018-2021 with a pricy first-rounder be worth sacrificing a potentially massive improvement to this ailing defense?
At a time like this, with the best quarterback and head coach duo in the league, it is imperative to not maximize the winning window but to elongate it. Sustainability in Kansas City will come through the trenches, and burning away three of the six top-100 picks that the Chiefs have in this year’s draft does not lend a hand to sustainability.
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