Well then, Wednesday, March 23rd certainly is a wild one.
News broke this morning the Chiefs have traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for five draft picks, clearing nearly $20MM in cap space, and providing the type of roster flexibility everyone has been saying they needed, just not in the way they wanted.
This transaction shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone that’s been paying attention to what receivers have been getting paid this offseason. This transaction also shouldn’t come as a surprise if you paid attention the last few years, as it became obvious Hill and his representation were going to make up for lost time with their next contract, after taking a significant discount on his current deal originally signed in the midst of ongoing legal kerfuffles. (and irresponsible journalism)
Now that everything is finalized, we’re onto the draft. We can’t play with the guys that aren’t here, and we had a guy that didn’t want to be here. So be it. This is a business and we’re in the business of Patrick Mahomes’ legacy. Literally.
The Chiefs now have an opportunity to do some real damage April 28th. With 6 picks in the top 103 and the available cap space, this offseason is far from over.
Even better, that while others teams in the division are mortgaging their futures to take advantage of the rookie-contract-QB window that propelled the Chiefs to 4-straight AFC title games, the Chiefs are in phase 2 with a QB whose deal now looks to be a steal, and more draft capital than they’ve ever had with Mahomes on the roster.
Reminder: I’m building this mock draft as if I am in charge of the roster as it currently sits. I’m not predicting or saying what the Chiefs should do. I trust in Veach.
Let’s build our house.
In Mock Draft 1.0 I came in with wide receiver as my listed top target. Even though I just traded the league’s most dynamic weapon, the volume of picks available to me and signing Juju Smith-Schuster and the cap space available now, I do not feel like I have to draft a receiver. In fact quite the opposite, I feel like I have the ammunition to get creative.
Here’s the first spot I’m getting creative and why taking the draft offer from the Dolphins instead of the Jets makes sense. Sam Howell is still on the board and the 5th year option for QBs is a valuable thing. I don’t feel like I need to make a pick at 29 because I have 30 coming up next, and I can use this pick as bait to get more.
I’m interested in all these guys available here and I have numerous trade partners coming my way. Most notably, as luck would have it, the New York Jets at 35 which happened to be one of the picks they originally offered me for Hill.
The prospects of drafting Raimann here are intriguing. I want to both target making the offensive line a juggernaut while also giving me leverage in case something screwy goes on with Orlando Brown’s contract negotiations. But I don’t think the Jets are in on a tackle, so I’m taking the risk of trading with the Jets down to 35, knowing I still have Raimann there for me at pick 30.
The gamble worked to perfection. The Jets took Daxton Hill, who wasn’t my top pick pick for defensive back, and left me with Raimann. This is a homerun for me even though this isn’t a position of need. We’re going to have to play a little different this year without Hill, and turning to a more stout running game and the reasons above with future roster flexibility, I’m taking the draft’s #13 ranked player at 30 and running to the podium.
The Pick: Bernhard Raimann, OT
I’m on the clock at 35 and I’ve got plenty of players available and Sam Howell is still on the board, so I’m not done dealing. The Colts are looking to move up from pick 42 for what I have to assume is Howell, which takes a player off the board I don’t care about at all. I’m also looking to fill in the gap I have between picks 135 and 233, so with the Colts offering picks 42, 122, and 159 for 35, I’m taking it.
Another gamble paid off as my top defensive back in the second tier is still on the board, Jalen Pitre. No hesitation, I’m going with a corner that has experience playing all over the secondary.
The Pick: Jalen Pitre, DB
With the second compensation pick from trading Tyreek Hill it’s time to start targeting pass rush. I like my EDGE rushers with speed and that’s something my roster has been lacking for years. My defensive coordinator prefers his DEs big and long and able to play the run, but it’s time to get some athleticism at the position.
Receiver is in play here and with George Pickens and Skyy Moore on the board there are options. But I’ve traded down enough with the intentions of gaining ammunition to go get the guy I really want, so I don’t have to stretch for him here.
Nik Bonitto’s size isn’t ideal for this system but everything else about him screams pass rusher. I want speed off the edge, Bonitto provides it.
The Pick: Nik Bonitto, EDGE
Here’s wear I’m flexing my extra draft capital muscle. The Packers took George Pickens at 53 which takes another target off the board. The run on the second tier receivers is about to happen and I need to make sure I get my guy, and it just so happens I have the picks to do just that.
I traded pick #62 and #135 to the Cowboys for pick for #56. Of the receivers on the board, the pick here is obvious:
Alec Pierce is why I didn’t need to target a receiver in the first. He fits a long glaring need of a big body that can win at the catch-point, as well as still being the freak athlete that fits with an Andy Reid system QB’d by a generational thrower. I’m taking Pierce and giggling to myself the whole time.
The Pick: Alec Pierce, WR
I don’t enjoy having a 30-pick layoff in the middle of the third round because there’s a ton of value there, but I’m willing to let go of my negative feelings knowing I’ve already taken four players that will impact my team right away. (Thanks, Tyreek).
We’re getting into the second tier offensive lineman portion of the draft so I’m going to have to reach a bit here to get a depth position that doesn’t fall in line with the remaining ranked prospects on the board.
After I’ve targeted some need positions I’m all about finding the absolute freak athletes from here on out. I’m also worried about getting more secondary depth to compete in a loaded division with good quarterbacks, and trying to replicate the success of drafting L’Jarius Sneed two years ago. When I was at the combine, I got my guy:
Zyon McCollum made himself a lot of money with his combine performance and I’mma be glad to be the guy to give it to him. At pick 94 I’m getting the 3rd best tested corner of the last 25 years? Alrighty.
The Pick: Zyon McCollum, DB
With the top values still available being lineman and me having an abundance of picks to work with still, I don’t feel as bad drafting a position, like say, running back that my coaching staff has proven can make anyone work.
There’s still value in drafting running backs because draft picks carry 4-years of contract control. You find a good one in the middle to late rounds, you’re carrying production at a minimal price for a long term. Value there.
My focus is to add speed to the running back room. That’s it – speed.
James Cook provides pass catching ability and speed out of the backfield my roster doesn’t currently have. I’m taking a flyer on a running back.
The Pick: James Cook, RB
Here’s another example of why an abundance of picks can come in handy – I can worry about taking the best athlete available, or I can target specific needs and specific traits that fill roles. I have 4 of the next 11 picks thanks to my superior trading skills, so I’m looking for role fillers and redundancy. The first one of the four, I’m going interior defensive lineman to add depth and pass rush.
The Pick: Neil Farrell Jr, DT
Okay I lied about not having to take best athlete available. A DE/EDGE ran a 4.36 at the combine and he’s still on the board. I have a need and he has the speed.
The Pick: Amare Barno, EDGE
I’ve addressed every level of the roster by this point except linebacker, where I have two guys that should never leave the field, and tight end, where I have an aging hall-of-famer and some stuff. Tight end needs to be addressed.
Two years ago Craig Calcaterra would have been a highly rated guy for me while he was at Oklahoma, but his stock has dropped significantly sense then. Even though he’s rated some-30 spots higher than the guys I’m looking at, my guy’s stock is on the rise after a great combine and size that fits a more traditional tight end. Plus, he’s an #athlete
The Pick: Jelani Woods, TE
It’s pick 122 and I’m traits hunting. This is a massive overreach in terms of value, but there’s nothing high on my board left. Of the top 8 guys available, all are at positions I’ve already addressed or don’t care about.
With nothing high in terms of now-talent I’m interested in, I’m looking at the guy that ran the best 40-time at this year’s combine and stands 6’2
I’m putting together an all freak’s squad draft. Thornton’s speed grade is top percentile and that fits my system perfectly. Additionally, it provides yet another option in case Mecole Hardman isn’t back next season.
The Pick: Tyquan Thornton, WR
Special teams matters too and I lost three special teams standouts from last year. Find the most athletic linebacker or safety available and don’t look back. This one happens to be a linebacker that can really run.
The Pick: D’Marco Jackson, LB
Seventh round and we’ve reached the portion of the draft I don’t know a damn thing about. Sue me for taking a punter.
The Pick: Matt Araiza, P
The Pick: LeBryan Ray, DL
Because why not?
The Pick: EJ Perry, QB
Cheap backup offensive linemen are important. My coach went to BYU. So for my last pick I’m taking a cheap backup offensive lineman from BYU.
The Pick: James Empey, OL
Here’s the damage. 15 total picks. A lot for the Chiefs but this goes to show how easy it will be for the Chiefs to come out ahead after trading Tyreek Hill.
A trade like that hurts. Hill is the most dynamic offensive player in football that isn’t a quarterback. He can do things no other player in league history could do. But he’s 28 and now he’s making $30MM/year, and the roster was getting really top heavy in terms of talent and salary cap. At this point, you have to put things in the hands of your hall of fame head coach and your hall of fame quarterback, and expect them to lift the other players up on the roster.
Maneuvering for 15 picks — 10 in the top 122 — will go a long way in helping that process along.