Chiefs 2023 7-round mock draft v1.0: Wave 1 of free agency edition
There are just 40 days to go until the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.
This is our first full 7-round mock draft on Chiefs Wire for 2023, coming just a few days after compensatory picks were assigned and the draft order was solidified. We’ll be sharing different mock drafts with varying themes into late April, but this time around, we’re attacking things after the first wave of free agency.
The Chiefs have retained a few pieces and made four key additions in Jawaan Taylor, Charles Omenihu, Drue Tranquill and Mike Edwards. They still have quite a few vacancies on the 90-man off-season roster and they could use starters at a number of different positions.
In order to gauge player availability for the mock draft, I ran multiple simulations. If players weren’t available with regularity, they were eliminated from contention at a specific pick. Typically, I’d have 8-10 players on my big board to choose from at a given pick.
This time around, we’re making just eight selections after trading up twice during the course of the draft. Keep in mind, that we tried to keep even trade values using the Rich Hill Model.
Without further delay, here’s a look at our mock draft version 1.0:
Round 1, Pick 23: Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith (TRADE)
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Trade terms: Chiefs trade pick Round 1, No. 31 + 2024 Round 3 + Round 4, No. 134 (Approx. 257 value) to Minnesota for Round 1, pick No. 23 + 2024 Round 5 (Approx. 257 value).
In the 10 simulations that I ran for Round 1, Smith only made it past pick No. 23 twice and only went before pick No. 23 twice. That let me know, if I wanted this player, I had to move up with Minnesota. I figure they’re a team that would happily stockpile some picks as they seem to be retooling their roster with a new regime. Adding a third-rounder in 2024 might be appealing given that they might be hunting for a new quarterback next year.
Maybe I’m reading too much into the fact that the Chiefs sent their defensive line coach to the Georgia pro day and he ran their defensive line drills. Some people expect that it was to learn more about Jalen Carter after his fall from grace. Let’s remember that Kansas City also had a formal with Smith at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
The Chiefs are lacking an alpha type in the edge rushing department now that Frank Clark has gone. There’s no doubt in my mind that Smith can be just that for Kansas City. Would he actually be available at this spot for the Chiefs, though?
While Smith absolutely crushed the combine, he’s got an injury history that could scare away some NFL teams. In 2021, he missed one game with an elbow injury. This past season, Smith only appeared in nine games after tearing his pec. There’s also the issue of production. He has just 12.5 sacks over four seasons at Georgia with no more than 3.5 in a single year. There is a lot of projection here and that’s something that sometimes scares away NFL teams, no matter how exciting the athlete is. The Chiefs, fresh off a Super Bowl win, can afford to take a risk here.
Round 2, Pick 63: Baylor DT Siaki Ika
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I was a big fan of Vita Vea when he was coming out for the NFL draft. Watching Siaki Ika do his thing at Baylor reminds me a lot of Vea when he was at Washington. The Chiefs need a true nose tackle in the rotation to pair with Chris Jones and the legion of players the team has that can play 3-technique. At 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, Ika can be just that for Kansas City.
He’s stout in the running game, capable of commanding multiple gaps and taking on double teams. He’s also a handful in the passing game, often walking his man back into the lap of the quarterback, but he managed to go without a sack in 2022. The athleticism flashes early and often, but consistency has been lacking in a few areas. I expect that lack of consistency will likely keep him in striking distance for the Chiefs in Round 2 as it did in our simulations.
Round 3, Pick 95: Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson
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With JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving in free agency, the Chiefs need to find themselves a reliable pass-catcher who can work across the middle of the field opposite Travis Kelce. Hutchinson is a guy that I think Kansas City will want to take a closer look at because of that.
Hutchinson is listed at 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds and he’s quietly one of the best route runners in this draft class. He can play in the slot or on the outside, boasting great hands and a massive catch radius. This past season he started 12 games for Iowa State, recording 107 receptions for 1,171 yards and six touchdowns. He’s really sudden and slippery for his size, which helps him beat man coverage and pick some big yards after the catch.
Round 4, Pick 122 (via MIA for Tyreek Hill): Purdue WR Charlie Jones
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Back-to-back wide receiver selections? Yeah, we’re double-dipping. Jones put on a show at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The 5-foot-11 and 175-pound wideout tied for the seventh-best 40-yard dash (4.43) and crushed all of his on-field drills.
There will be questions about playing for three different schools (Buffalo, Iowa and Purdue) and then only producing as a senior with 110 receptions for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s versatile enough to play in the slot and on the outside, though he might find his home in the slot in the NFL. Jones also has punt and kick return experience, which is something the Chiefs will need if Isiah Pacheco and Skyy Moore are to take on bigger roles in Year 2.
Round 4, Pick 134: Traded to Minnesota.
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Round 5, Pick 150: Pittsburgh OT Carter Warren (TRADE)
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Trade terms: Chiefs trade Round 5, Pick 166 + 2024 Round 7 + Round 7, Pick 250 (Approx. 12 value) to Commanders for Round 5, Pick 150 (Approx 12 value).
Warren would be a top 100 draft pick if it weren’t for a season-ending injury knee injury suffered in October of 2022. Moving up to secure him in the top 150 could be a big win for Kansas City. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds with nearly 36-inch arms, Warren started 39 games at left tackle during his career at Pittsburgh. He might not be ready to play in Week 1, but this is a guy you can bring along as either a right or left tackle of the future.
Round 6, Pick 178 (From CHI via MIA for Tyreek Hill): Texas RB Roschon Johnson
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Johnson doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear after playing the backup role to Texas star RB Bijan Robinson. He didn’t exactly blow people away at the combine, but he has the tools to be a part of a strong running back by committee approach. His lateral agility, catching and ability in pass protection stand out the most. Getting him with the first pick in the sixth round would be a huge win for Kansas City.
Round 6, Pick 217 (Compensatory Pick): UAB OT Kadeem Telfort
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Listed at 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds, Telfort is the exact type of late-round tackle I’d like to see the Chiefs invest in. He’s a mauler in the run game and he locked guys up in pass protection playing right tackle at the East-West Shrine Bowl. He’s still pretty raw, but he has all the tools that an offensive line coach will want to develop.
Round 7, Pick 249: Rutgers DB Avery Young
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Another non-combine invite, Young began his career playing corner and nickel with the Scarlet Knights before making the switch to the safety position. He’s a versatile defender who can play nickel, single-high, two-deep or shift down into the box and play the run. I also think he’ll be a strong special teamer at the NFL level.
Round 7, Pick 250 (Compensatory Pick): Traded to Washington
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