Posted: 2:42 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2013
By Nick Chiamardas
With recent moves and decisions, the Kansas City Chiefs can go a number of ways with the first overall pick. Their selection could cause a domino effect leading to some pretty interesting talent sliding down the board.
Monday afternoon the Kansas City Chiefs surprised everyone by placing the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert. Most figured the tag, if used at all, would be used on pending free agent wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. However, Bowe and the Chiefs came to terms on a five year deal that allowed Albert to be tagged.
It was all but written in stone that Chiefs would let Albert walk and draft coveted left tackle Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M.; While it's still possible, it has become even less likely. Should the Chiefs decide to pass on Joeckel, who will they select? And what does it mean for the rest of the draft, including the 49ers?
Potential top picks:
I've narrowed the list down to six prospects that I believe the Chiefs could select number one. In no particular order, they are:
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida: I have him as the top prospect on the board. However, I feel he fits the 3-technique in the 4-3 better than the 5-technique in the 3-4.
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama: In the history of the NFL draft, never has a cornerback been taken number one overall. Milliner could change that and corner is a position of need for the Chiefs (as is just about everything else).
T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M;: Even with the return of Branden Albert, Andy Reid knows he needs to protect his new quarterback, Alex Smith. (That still sounds weird doesn't it?) Albert could me moved to right tackle or even guard allowing the Chiefs to draft Joeckel and field a formidable offensive line.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia: Not likely given the recent acquisition of A. Smith, but remember, Andy Reid is the guy who brought in Michael Vick when he already had Donovan McNabb. Since the top pick doesn't command the type of money it used to thanks to the new slotted contract amounts, Reid could view G. Smith as a guy that sits a couple of years before he takes over the reins.
T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: See Luke Joeckel above.
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah: Lotulelei's stock has taken a tumble recently after doctors discovered a heart issue at the Combine. It's not known yet the nature of the condition but if it's proven to be minor, Lotulelei very well could be the top pick.
Trade. It's always possible the Chiefs could find a dancing partner for that number one spot and trade down. With no clear cut number one this year, it might make it more likely that a team move up to ensure they lock down 'their guy'.
Many of the top 10 teams need help at offensive line. Should the Chiefs take anyone but Joeckel or Fisher, it could trigger a tumble for a number of prospects widely considered to be top 10 or 15. This could potentially put them within trading range should the 49ers decide to package some of their 15 draft picks to move up.
Lotulelei as mentioned above has a newly discovered heart condition. Teams are very leery of an issue like this and could shy away from drafting the talented tackle, even if it's not a serious as initially thought. Lotulelei is a versatile tackle that would fit nicely anywhere along the line for the 49ers.
Any three of the top wide receivers - Cordarrelle Paterson, Tennessee; Tavon Austin, West Virginia; Keenan Allen, California: Most consider Patterson to be the first off the board but Austin and Allen won't be far behind. If they slip past 15 the Niners might consider moving up if they really like one of them.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri: The 49ers have had some great luck with defensive players from Missouri (i.e. Justin Smith & Aldon Smith). Richardson is one of the toughest prospects to slot in this draft. He's as high as 2 on some boards and as low as 23 in others. There's no doubting his talent though. Should the 294lb tackle begin to slip the 49ers may pounce on the former Missouri Tiger.
FS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: As it grows more and more likely that Dashon Goldson will be with another team in 2013, safety has become a top priority. What better way to fill that need than by moving up and taking the top overall safety in the class. Vaccaro is projected to be a mid-first round pick already but should things domino down like they might, Vaccaro could fall within reach of an easy trade up.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State: In a recent bloggers mock draft I participated in Rhodes fell out of the first round. Granted it was a mock draft by bloggers...what do we know?!?!?! Still, while it's unlikely Rhodes would fall that far, a slight tumble to the mid-to-late first round wouldn't be surprising. He's considered to be the second best corner (he's third on my list behind Milliner and Trufant) with some thought he could play safety as well.
The next two months will be fun that's a certainty. I don't recall this many prospects vying for the top spot this ‘late' in the process. Undoubtedly things will clear up some once free agency opens up next Tuesday. Even then, there are legitimately 40-50 prospects that could be taken in the first round making this one of the deepest drafts in recent history despite its lack of ‘star power'.