[Editor’s Note: Version 1.0 below originally published on March 3]
The Kansas City Chiefs had a storybook season in 2019 as they became Super Bowl Champions under the 2018 League MVP Patrick Mahomes. The young phenom followed up an impressive MVP sophomore campaign with a Lombardi Trophy in only his third year in the league. Coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City faithful have nothing but optimism for the future of this Chiefs franchise. The Kansas City Chiefs will look to improve the roster and get back to the Super Bowl again with this 7-round mock draft.
The Chiefs have limited ammunition as they head into the 2020 NFL Draft, so these five selections will have to be calculated and meaningful. The team lost Mitch Morse last offseason to free agency and look likely to lose another starter this offseason with the departure of Cam Irving. Therefore, the offensive line should be a big focus of the team as we get closer to the draft.
Tyrann Mathieu was a revelation for this defensive in 2019, as he helped improve an ever-struggling Chiefs secondary. The defensive back group as a whole dramatically improved with the “Honey Badger” in town. The Chiefs will still need to address the concerns at cornerback and add a lockdown player outside. The Chiefs will have many options available to them within the first few rounds of this 7-round mock draft.
Round 1, Pick 32: Lloyd Cushenberry, C, LSU
Kansas City continues to be one of the most exciting and explosive teams in the entire NFL and appears to be on the doorstep of a Lombardi Trophy. The only thing that slightly hindered their progress in 2019 was the health of star quarterback Mahomes. The young quarterback missed two games last season, and the offensive line was a big reason.
The team shuffled multiple personnel around and dealt with various injuries, which seemed to affect the play of Mahomes and the running game as well. Since losing stud center Morse to the Bills in free agency last year, the team has struggled to replace his consistent play. This unit fared much better overall once the playoffs began, but upgrades would be welcomed in Kansas City.
One player who could interest Kansas City in their quest to improve their offensive line is LSU pivot man Lloyd Cushenberry. The talented senior emerged in 2019 as a legitimate NFL prospect and looks poised to become a potential first-rounder. Cushenberry is athletic and can be absolute mauler from the center position. Take a look at this rep below against fellow first-round hopeful Javon Kinlaw at the Senior Bowl.
Lloyd Cushenberry with a very nice Rep against Javon Kinlaw…#SeniorBowl
— Josh Lemoine (@LSUTruth) January 21, 2020
He is intelligent and has had the experience playing for another athletic and smart quarterback in Joe Burrow. Cushenberry joins Burrow as two of the 13 total LSU Tigers expected to be drafted in April. The Chiefs can plug-and-play Cushenberry at the center position for the next ten years.
Round 2, Pick 63: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
The Chiefs have had concerns in the secondary for the last few seasons, and the unit continues to be a concern moving forward. The addition of Tyrann Mathieu offset the loss of Eric Berry in 2019. Mathieu performed at an All-Pro level last season, and he was able to come up with some timely plays all year for the Super Bowl Champs. Kendall Fuller’s addition back in 2018 has been a big help for this unit as well, and he’s turned into one of the better slot corners in the NFL.
A real number one, perimeter corner is needed on this defense, and Johnson could be just the answer this team needs. The former Utah Ute is one of the more underrated cover corners in this draft and would be a great addition here in the second round. The 2019 second-team AP All-American racked up 13 passes defended this past season, and he is a sticky defender with decent size and length. He has some of the best ball skills in this draft and would be an immediate starter for this upstart secondary in 2020.
Round 3, Pick 96: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
I cannot think of a better fit and opportunity for the Oklahoma star quarterback, Jalen Hurts. I previously mentioned the health concerns surrounding incumbent Chiefs’ quarterback Mahomes, and it would be wise for the team to invest and develop a viable replacement in case Mahomes were to get hurt again. On the surface, this may not seem like the most glaring need for the Super Bowl-contending Chiefs, but it would be a wise investment and insurance for Mahomes. The team could also use this opportunity to develop Hurts with the hope of trading him for considerable assets, as Andy Reid has done in the past (see A.J. Feeley).
As a prospect, Hurts has grown by leaps and bounds in 2019, especially as a passer. Before the season, the Alabama transfer looked like a late-rounder at best. However, he proved to be a legitimate threat as a thrower and runner on his way to a top-3 Heisman finish. Hurts looks likely to be chosen on the second day of the draft, and Kansas City makes sense at this stage. He can emulate some of the things that Mahomes can do well, and Hurts could earn some value as a trade target for the team down the line.
Round 4, Pick 128: Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama
The Chiefs lost two of their top pass rushers before the 2019 season in Justin Houston (Colts) and Dee Ford (49ers). The team added Frank Clark from Seattle via trade, but could still use a consistent force outside opposite Clark. Jennings has been a constant presence for the Tide for the last three years and would give the team depth inside and outside. Like many of their defensive pieces, Alabama moved Jennings all-around their defensive formations. He has loads of experience both as a pass rusher and a run stopper inside.
Jennings could go as early as the second round, but he would fit nicely with Kansas City with this third-round selection. Jennings would become an immediate rotational piece for the Chiefs and has the upside to grow into a solid starter in this league. With 33.5 sacks accumulated during his college career, Jennings is one of the more polished players at the position and would be a no-brainer for the Kansas City Chiefs at this point in the 7-round mock draft.
Round 5, Pick 160: Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
Kansas City goes back to the state of Utah for this selection of Terrell Burgess in the fifth round. Burgess is a former receiver who moved to the defensive side after his freshman season for the Utes. He’s a strong safety with decent range and a real nose for the football. He always seems to be around the action, collecting 75 tackles, one interception, two fumble recoveries, and five pass deflections during his senior season.
Juan Thornhill was an excellent pickup for the Chiefs in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, teaming with Tyrann Mathieu to form a superb safety tandem. However, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo prefers to move Mathieu around the defense to confuse offenses and maximize his versatility on the back end. Therefore, Burgess would provide Spagnuolo with the flexibility he needs to continue and get the most out of this secondary. The senior safety has excellent special teams ability as well and could be an immediate contributor there for the Super Bowl Champs.
Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the 2021 NFL Draft. You can follow him at @sgormanPFN on Twitter.