The annual NFL collegiate draft is upon us once again. Depending on who you speak to, Carl Peterson will either blow it completely, semi-blow it, or manage to find some decent, but unspectacular, players. The truth is that Peterson rarely blows a draft completely, but he has had some that have left a lot to be desired. He has also turned in some darned good drafts.
Since Peterson took over, the Chiefs have drafted a total of 121 players in the first 7 rounds (an additional 20 were taken in rounds 8-12 before the NFL shortened the draft). The common perception is that the players taken in rounds 1-3 are the ones that will make or break a draft and to a certain extent, that perception is accurate. Those players are the ones counted on to come in and make an impact and they are the ones that get the fat contacts & signing bonuses. Any gems that come out of the latter rounds are gravy. So, just exactly what has Peterson done with the 44 previous draft choices he had in rounds 1-3? More importantly, what is he likely to do with this year's picks?
The record in the first round has been pretty good. Peterson scored big in 1989 with Derrick Thomas, 1992 with Dale Carter (yes, he was a flake but he could play), 1997 with Tony Gonzalez, 2003 (Larry Johnson), and last year with Derrick Johnson. John Tait left in free agency after five seasons, but had really solidified the right offensive tackle position while he was still in KC. Harvey Williams and Greg Hill were decent running backs, but it's debatable whether they were worth a first round pick or not. The same could be said for Jerome Woods and Ryan Sims. The only pick Peterson truly blew was in 1995 with the selection of tackle Trezelle Jenkins, a classic case of "look like Tarzan, play like Jane." Injuries ended the careers of 1990 pick Percy Snow and 2000 pick Sylvester Morris.
The only true star Peterson has selected in the second round was center Tim Grunhard although Kawika Mitchell has finally started to perform like a second-rounder should. Donnell Bennett, Kevin Lockett, and Joe Valerio were decent players. The real stinkers in the second round were QBs Mike Elkins and Matt Blundin, DE Eddie Freeman, and CB William Bartee. The jury is still out on TE Kris Wilson and DT Junior Siavii.
The third round has produced Will Shields, John Browning, Gary Stills, Tamarick Vanover, Keyaron Fox, and Greg Wesley. It has also produced Eric Downing, Troy Dumas, Naz Worthen, Snoop Minnis, and Rashan Shehee. The rest are a mixed bag, although there is hope for punter Dustin Colquitt and cornerback Julian Battle.
In the later rounds of the draft, Peterson has found some real gems in Dave Szott (7th), Donnie Edwards (4th), Joe Horn (5th), Dante Hall (5th), and Jared Allen (4th).
Generally, the Chiefs have adopted the "draft the best athlete available" philosophy during the first two rounds. However, Peterson has never shied away from trading high draft picks (He's traded away the first pick three times, the second five, and the third 4 times) and he will draft for need if it's necessary. Of his previous 14 1st round selections, Peterson has drafted 3 offensive tackles, 3 running backs, and 3 linebackers. He has never drafted a guard, center, kicker, or defensive end in the first and there is no reason to think that will change this year. The second round is harder to pinpoint as the Chiefs have drafted every position except kicker and guard. In the third round, however, KC has shown a pattern of selecting a wide receiver (6 out of the previous 17 picks). Fourth round has seen 13 of the previous 18 picks go for receivers, running backs, defensive ends, and cornerbacks. In the fifth, 13 of the 19 previous have been used for corners, tackles, running backs, and linebackers. Wide receivers were taken with 5 of the previous 17 picks in the sixth. There is no clear-cut preference in the seventh round.
My predictions for the draft:
1st: KC will draft for need and take a cornerback unless one of the top two available defensive tackles slips through.
2nd: Either a safety or a defensive end.
3rd: Wide receiver
4th: Pick went to the Jets for Herman Edwards.
6th: KC has two picks and will go after a receiver and a defensive tackle