We are just days away from the NFL Draft, and rumors are flying around. The Chiefs have been linked to multiple players, including a first-round running back. It’s possible that the Chiefs can get a player they would be happy with if they sit at pick 31, but as the final countdown begins, it looks as though they will have to move up to get their guy. Today let’s go over why the Chiefs must trade up in the draft, and who they could be targeting with a trade-up.
The Board Is Set
At this point the Chiefs have their draft board set, of course, there may be minor tweaks and changes over the next 48 hours, but they know which players they want at this point. Winning the Super Bowl means that they will have the last pick of the first round. It’s almost impossible to get a blue-chip player at that spot, and the front office knows that. Last year they moved up for Trent McDuffie as he began to slide. Everyone including the Chief’s front office was amazed at how far he fell, and Chiefs’ GM Brett Veach wouldn’t allow the slide to continue. The move not only gave the Chiefs a potential star at corner, but it also stopped the Bills from taking him.
Do you remember when the Chiefs traded up in front of the Bills to get Trent McDuffie? pic.twitter.com/lUnKj7nlHu
— Brad Henson Productions (@BradHensonPro) April 13, 2023
The first step is determining trade value. For the Chiefs to trade up, a player they see as high-value must fall to a certain point that they believe they can trade up without giving away too many assets. Chiefs GM Brett Veach recently discussed how he has touched base with around 12 teams that are ahead of the Chiefs in the draft to get a feel for what would be needed to move up. This means the Chiefs are looking to move up to as high as pick 18 to get their guy. This may be necessary, as there is no clear direction for what may happen in this draft. There are 32 different draft boards, and in a weak draft class, it becomes even harder to determine the true value. So, it may actually be easier for the Chiefs to trade up in the draft, but they have to pick the perfect moment to strike.
Recently, the Chiefs have been linked to two prospects in particular. Boston College WR Zay Flowers, and Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs. Let’s start with Gibbs. Gibbs is a true first-round RB prospect and would fit perfectly into the Chief’s offense. He would step into the Jerrick McKinnon role, and be a perfect complement to Pacheco. That being said the value of the position is not exactly ideal for the Chiefs. While they won’t be able to get a player like Jahmyr Gibbs later in the draft, they can get someone similar for a fraction of the draft capital. I wouldn’t be upset if Gibbs is the pick, as he is an electric player, but it wouldn’t be in my top 5 choices for the first round. If he falls to 31 it is at least justifiable, but if you are trading up for a RB prospect in this draft it should be Bijan Robinson.
No, the more intriguing prospect here is Zay Flowers. As far as size profiles, Zay is almost identical to Skyy Moore.
The play styles are somewhat similar as well. Despite both players being undersized, they have the versatility to line up inside or out. Zay can also instantly take over the role Mecole Hardman had last year in being the motion man and taking sweeps. That would allow Toney to play on the outside and Skyy to work from the slot. As the draft gets closer, I am more open to the idea of the Chiefs drafting Zay Flowers. Many have made comparisons to Antonio Brown, and while that is a high-end projection, if Zay can even come close to that projection it’s an A+ pick.
Recently, Zay Flowers worked out with Mahomes in Texas, and this may be the reason he has been linked heavily to the Chiefs. Perhaps after the workout Mahomes picked up his phone and called Veach to tell him we have to do whatever it takes to get Zay Flowers.
Zay Flowers is so explosive & so twitchy. He’s so SUDDEN at the top of his routes. Quite impressive pic.twitter.com/BckTCzj8a3
— 2LiveCraig (@2LiveCraig) April 19, 2023
Personally, the player I want the Chiefs to make a move for is another player who has been working out with Mahomes in Texas, and that is TCU WR Quentin Johnston.
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Johnston offers something as a prospect that no other 1st round prospect can, and that’s size at the WR position. Johnston is 6’3 and has legit deep speed. The main knock on him is a low contested-catch rate and the idea that he’s a body catcher, resulting in many dropped passes. These are fair criticisms, Johnston has a lot to work on, but you can’t teach size or speed, and Johnston has both. He can learn to use his size to his advantage, and be coached up on using his hands instead of his body. Not to mention that Johnston is electric after the catch despite his size. An almost perfect player-comp would be Mike Williams, who the Chiefs were rumored to be highly interested in before he signed an extension in LA. Johnston may have a higher ceiling than any other receiver in this class, and that’s something the Chiefs won’t get the opportunity to have very often.
In the end, I would be happy with either player, Zay Flowers or Quentin Johnston, but I believe the Chiefs must make a move up to secure one of these players. WR may not be the biggest need on the roster, but giving Mahomes extra weapons on cheap rookie deals has infinite value. The team made defense a priority in free agency, so why not make a splash move for the offense on draft night? A trade-up for a WR would make the crowd in Kansas City erupt on Thursday night.