May 02, 2021 12:21 PM

Chiefs use modest number of draft picks to address big holes

Posted May 02, 2021 12:21 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs had precious few holes to fill after reaching their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Good thing. They didn’t have many draft picks to fill them.

The Chiefs traded their first-round choice in a package that landed two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown from Baltimore, leaving them with just two second-round picks, a fourth-rounder and three more in the fifth and sixth.

Yet the Chiefs took advantage of the way the board fell by landing players with their first three selections that they rated much higher than where they were taken, but also filled substantial needs: Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton and Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey went in the second round and Florida State pass rusher Joshua Kaindoh in the fourth.

“We felt there was a lot of depth there in (rounds) two and three, and believe it or not, we were open to fielding some trade-down calls,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “We felt like there were a number of players there that we liked and again, there was a lot of flexibility. Those trades never really materialized, and we sat on the board.”

Which worked out just fine for a team with designs on a third straight AFC title.

Bolton is a plug-and-play middle linebacker with whom the Chiefs were intimately familiar given his starring role just down Interstate 70 at Missouri. The Chiefs lost Damien Wilson to the Jaguars in free agency, creating a hole in the middle of their defense, but had already been hoping to get more athletic at that position.

Humphrey was widely considered the best center available yet fell into the late second round. That allowed the Chiefs to add him to their complete overhaul of an offensive line that was decimated by injuries and opt outs last season, and whose backups were unable to contain the Tampa Bay pass rush in a blowout loss in the Super Bowl.

“Big, wide, tough, gritty. I kind of labeled him a get-the-job-done type of guy,” said Ryan Poles, one of the Chiefs’ assistant directors of player personnel, who helps to oversee their draft. “He’s a highly intelligent leader.”

The Chiefs also were desperate to improve an inconsistent pass rush. They did that by landing Kaindoh, who slipped to the fourth round largely because of his injury history, but whose athletic traits give him plenty of upside.

“He’s got a great attitude. He’s smart. He works hard. All the intangibles you want in an individual, he has those,” Chiefs area scout David Hinson said. “When the team loves him, coaches love him, the staff, you know you’re getting a good individual, and then you watch the tape and you see flashes of a defensive end that you like to see.”

OTHER DAY 3 SELECTIONS

The Chiefs made a minor swap of draft picks with the Jets to jump from 175 to 162 overall and take Duke tight end Noah Gray. The Chiefs have struggled to find a reliable second tight end behind Travis Kelce the past few years, and Gray is an athletic pass-catching threat that should giving Patrick Mahomes another downfield target.

“This kid really stood out when you looked at the board,” Chiefs assistant director of pro personnel Mike Bradway said. “I thought he was one of the guys we really wanted to target. We didn’t want to wait on the chances of him falling.”

Later in the fifth round, the Chiefs took Clemson wide receiver Cornell Powell as depth behind Tyreek Hill and Co., then added one more offensive lineman to the meeting room with Tennessee guard Trey Smith.

HALL OF FAMER

The Chiefs announced that Tim Grunhard, who spent his 11-year career entirely in Kansas City, would join the club’s Hall of Fame. The affable center started 164 games and went to one Pro Bowl before retiring after the 2000 season.

“We wait around long enough good things happen,” Grunhard said with a smile.

PARTY TIME

Season-ticket holders were invited to a draft party at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday to watch Day 3 selections on the video boards above the end zones. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo were among those who spoke to a masked and socially distanced crowd.

AS FOR NEXT SEASON

The relatively modest crowd that showed up Saturday could be a whole lot bigger this fall. The Chiefs are optimistic that Arrowhead Stadium will be at full capacity after allowing about 20,000 fans for home games last season.

“The commissioner has been on the record,” Hunt said. “There are a lot of hurdles that need to be jumped over between now and then. The league will have discussions with the union in terms of the protocols, separating fans from players — there’s a lot of work to be done. But our mindset and mentality right now is that we will be at 100 percent.”