The Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2020 NFL Draft without very many significant needs. And in the words of general manager Brett Veach, they “hit a home run.”
They had the choice of going best player available in the first round. As a result, the Chiefs made their offense even more scary and more dangerous. In addition, Kansas City got a linebacker that has the traits they needed to add to their defense. For all of our thoughts on the Chiefs 2020 NFL Draft picks, let’s recap it all right here, right now.
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Round 1 (32nd Overall)- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU Running Back
The debate of when to select a running back is always a hot topic. However, this was a very exciting running back class. Kansas City made all the analytic junkies cry with their selection of LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The important thing is, CEH is more than just a running back. His receiving ability is one of Edwards-Helaire’s most prominent roles. The coaching staff and front office were extremely high on him, saying they view him as a “franchise type of back.” Oh, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes vouched for Edwards-Helaire to be the pick as well.
Here was my immediate reaction to the selection of Edwards-Helaire: The Chiefs can get so much out of Clyde Edwards-Helaire in a variety of ways. He fits perfectly in the zone rushing concept that this offense uses. Have you seen his change of direction skills, cutting ability and vision? Defenders had such a tough time bringing him down this past season at LSU. Fans may not remember how difficult and trying it was for Kansas City to close out some games in 2019. They are confident that the “Electric Clyde” can make life easier in those moments during the fourth quarter.
Round 2 (63rd Overall)- Willie Gay Jr, Mississippi State Linebacker
Willie Gay Jr is such an exciting linebacker. For a team like the Chiefs, they needed a guy at this position who has range and can cover. Gay Jr was one of the highest graded coverage linebackers in college football since 2017. Meanwhile, he brings heavy hits to opponents, while not shying away from contact. He’s also not afraid to stick his face into the fan and blow things up in the backfield, as well. Kansas City will have the luxury of being able to try Gay Jr at all three linebacker spots. It’s also encouraging to hear how excited this team was about the player. Andy Reid said they were “holding their breath” that Gay Jr was still there at 63.
Here was FPC Chiefs writer Kyle Jones’ reaction to the selection of Gay Jr: Gay Jr has the skillset that NFL team look for in a linebacker. He has the speed to get wherever he wants on the field. When he gets to where he wants to be, Gay Jr follows it up with the ability to wrap up and bring players to the ground. Whether it be inside or in the open field, he seeks contact as much as any player in the class. Gay Jr is always looking for someone to hit. He has the size to match up with tight ends, and a quick first step needed to set himself up well in zone coverage. Getting his downhill ability will be to the Chiefs benefit.
Round 3 (96th Overall)- Lucas Niang, TCU Offensive Lineman
Here is your offensive tackle of the future, Chiefs fans. Lucas Niang could have been selected higher. However, a torn hip labrum ended his 2019 season at TCU after seven games. The good teams stay good, by finding value like this at the end of round three. Niang moves nimbly for a 6’7”, 328 pound offensive lineman. Working back from the hip injury will be intriguing to watch. Nonetheless, he feels ready to go and the Chiefs believe he can slide in at guard right away.
Here was my immediate reaction to the selection of Niang: This was an exciting pick for a position that does not receive much love. Lucas Niang never allowed a sack during the course of his 27 starts at TCU. He fits the zone rushing scheme and deep passing set style of the Kansas City Chiefs. Furthermore, his power at the point of attack can be seen multiple times on tape, when Niang pancakes opponents into the turf. His length, extension and hand technique are more of his desirable traits. The injury was too devastating for a lot of teams apparently. But, the Kansas City Chiefs will gladly reap the reward of getting Lucas Niang here. His injury can also be shelved a bit with his age. He arrived at TCU at the age of 17, and is only 21 now.
Round 4 (138th Overall)- L’Jarius Sneed, Louisiana Tech Defensive Back
L’Jarius Sneed fits the Steve Spagnuolo mold perfectly. His length and size is important to have as a defensive back. Moreover, Sneed brings a good sense of physicality and ball skills to the table. And we cannot forget about his elite speed (4.37 40 yard dash). His man coverage ability sticks out on tape. Sneed can also thrive as a ballhawk in zone coverage, though.
Here was my immediate reaction to the selection of Sneed: L’Jarius Sneed played as a cornerback during his first three seasons at Louisiana Tech. He did pretty well there. But, the Bulldogs moved him to safety in 2019. Was he horrible there? Not really. It was not as beneficial, either. When the team called Sneed to tell him of their selection, Andy Reid already said he would play cornerback. That looks to be a wise decision. Sneed checks all of the boxes for Spagnuolo, and Kansas City did a good job to add a physical player who has a nose for the football.
Round 5 (177th Overall)- Mike Danna, Michigan Defensive End
Mike Danna actually started at Central Michigan, before transferring to the Michigan Wolverines for 2019. Defensive line coach Brendan Daly described Danna as a “smart, tough, hard working football player.” For a guy who’s a little more unknown compared to the other Chiefs selections, Danna has had Kansas City’s attention for a while. He can move around the line of scrimmage and hold the edge. They believe his competitiveness and fire will shine through.
Here was FPC Chiefs writer Kyle Jones’ reaction to the selection of Danna: Danna does a good job of keeping the right pad level throughout the play, never opening himself up to blockers. He has effective hands, using them well to keep blockers off of him. On the other hand, Danna is good at holding his ground, when he does get blocked. In other words, he may not make the tackle, but he helps make it easier for others to do so.
Round 7 (237th Overall)- BoPete Keyes, Tulane Cornerback
Just like the aforementioned Sneed, BoPete Keyes fits the style and has the traits that the Kansas City Chiefs want for cornerback. So much so, that they traded back into the seventh ground to grab him. According to reports, the Chiefs were unsure if they could sign Keyes as an undrafted free agent. They like him that much. His length and smooth movement skills are important for press man corners. Keyes also has the plus ball skills that Sneed possesses. With these two cornerback selections, they are very similar to Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward, so it is easy to see what Brett Veach is seeing there.
Here was FPC Chiefs writer Kyle Jones’ reaction to the selection of Keyes: Keyes has the footwork and hip fluidity that will help him stick with receivers at the line of scrimmage and through their release. He uses his length and aggressiveness well when the ball is in the air. Keyes provides much needed depth and the positives are something that the coaching staff can easily work with and improve.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.