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Thursday, May 8, 2014
It's a good draft for the Chiefs if ...

By Adam Teicher

The Kansas City Chiefs can without a doubt use an upgrade at a number of positions but their roster, as it relates to lining up and playing a game, is almost complete. The Chiefs can be competitive next season with the roster they have, though it's unlikely they would win a Super Bowl this way.

But their work in free agency, when the Chiefs added a defensive lineman (Vance Walker), an inside linebacker (Joe Mays), a nickel back (Chris Owens) and a backup offensive lineman (Jeff Linkenbach), filled in the glaring holes.

So the Chiefs don't have to steer their draft in any particular direction when it begins tonight with Round 1. As long as the Chiefs get a player who helps them eventually if not as a rookie, their draft is off to a good start regardless of what position he plays.

It's better if he's a wide receiver, defensive back or offensive lineman but not necessary. Still, the Chiefs need to draft a player in each of those spots at some point during the draft. They also could use a skilled punt and kickoff return specialist.

As a reminder, the Chiefs have single picks in the first, third, fourth and fifth rounds. They have two picks in the sixth and none in the second or seventh rounds.

The Chiefs wide receivers were among the most unproductive in the league last season and that was before they lost Dexter McCluster to free agency. The Chiefs also need to think about eventually replacing Dwayne Bowe as their No. 1 wide receiver.

The Chiefs added Weston Dressler, a slot receiver, from the CFL, but hopes for him should be minimal. They are hopeful that A.J. Jenkins will make significant improvement but that is also something that's unwise to count on.

The top four cornerbacks are starters Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith and backups Marcus Cooper and Owens. But Flowers didn't play well last season, raising questions about his ability to thrive in the Chiefs' defensive system. Cooper started his rookie season well but his play dropped significantly over the last several games, raising questions about his long-term viability.

At free safety, the Chiefs lost last year's starter, Kendrick Lewis. In-house candidates to replace him are Sanders Commings, a rookie last season, and veteran Husain Abdullah. Commings is unproven and Abdullah has mostly been a backup in his NFL career.

The Chiefs lost three offensive linemen who were regulars last season to free agency. The Chiefs had prepared for this event by loading up on linemen in the draft in recent years. The Chiefs will start four linemen who played a lot last season but right guard Rishaw Johnson is unproven. Even if Johnson handles his position well, their depth at these positions could use a boost. Center Rodney Hudson could be an unrestricted free agent next year as well.

McCluster was a Pro Bowl punt returner last season. Dressler and running backs Knile Davis and Joe McKnight have return ability but the Chiefs could use a player with dynamic ability here.

So the Chiefs have some ground to cover and only six picks with which to do it. It's a successful draft for them if they can chip away at their needs list.