Welcome to Mock Draft Monday, a weekly feature getting you prepared for the 2020 NFL draft from all angles, specifically as it pertains to the Kansas City Chiefs (and the rest of the league, too).
The NFL held its annual scouting combine this week, which is usually worth whatever you make of it. If you’re obsessed with measurables and competing against air, it’s significant. If all you care about is the tape, it likely doesn’t mean much.
Still, a good performance can be beneficial for a player’s stock. Particularly weak measurables and test scores, though, could ding a prospect and may even drop them down significantly if paired with other red flags.
As it pertains to a couple of the Chiefs’ biggest rivals, they’re sitting pretty after the combine in terms of being able to address one of their biggest needs.
This year’s class of wide receivers could be one of the greatest ever. It’s receiving unprecedented hype from all around the league not just for it’s top-end talent but for its depth. There are currently 29 wide receivers on the 580 Sports Talk composite big board, which was last updated on Feb. 10. In other words, 14.5% of the consensus top 200 players in this year’s draft class are wide receivers, and that’s before a big group of them showed out at the combine.
The Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos desperately need wide receivers. Tyrell Williams is the Raiders’ top receiver, followed by either Hunter Renfrow or Zay Jones. The Broncos have Courtland Sutton, a certified No. 1, but have effectively nothing after him. Both teams have other needs, too (think offensive line for Denver), but are in a prime position to fix their desperate receiver needs in the first round this year.
Several teams in front of those two in the draft order could also use pass catchers this year, but those other, worse teams have bigger needs that must be addressed. Thanks to the remarkable depth at receiver in this class, those teams can patch other holes in the first round and target receivers later. That will leave the Raiders and Broncos a shot at getting two of the top three receivers in this class between them.
Those three receivers are Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III. Jeudy and Lamb are the top two and alternate between the top spot depending on where you look. Jeudy will instantly be one of the best route runners in the NFL from the moment he enters the league, while Lamb is an incredible all-around prospect. Add in Ruggs, who is a speed demon who excels on contested catches and you’ve got three studs who could end up in the AFC West.
Unsurprisingly, you can look at a mock draft from any evaluator or website and see a receiver slotted to one or both of these teams. So, just how likely are those results?
Using the mock draft simulator from The Draft Network, we ran 10 simulations with a focus on Las Vegas and Denver to see how common a receiver is mocked to them in the first round (half of the simulations using TDN’s prospect rankings, half using their predictive board). Here are the results:
(Note: for the Raiders we are only focusing on their first first-round pick, 12th overall).
For what it’s worth, in drafts five and eight, the Raiders took Ruggs with their second first-round pick.
You can see the approximate dividing line between the TDN predictive board and player rankings. Hint: it’s the halfway point between where the Raiders are consistently picking Jeudy and Ruggs.
In total, our 10 simulations have the Raiders taking one of the top wide receiver prospects eight times with their first pick. It also has the Broncos, who pick 15th, taking one of those three just twice, but also taking Colorado’s Laviska Shenault twice for a total of four receiver picks.
It goes without saying that no mock draft can accurately predict how things will shake out in the draft itself. Either team could make a trade or could choose to address a different position first. However, should the Raiders and Broncos choose to stand pat and make their currently assigned picks, they should have a good chance at getting one of the top receivers on the board this year.
What does that mean for the Chiefs? They’re still the favorites in the AFC West, obviously, because one receiver per team doesn’t put much of a dent in their lead atop the division. However, it does make Kansas City’s need at cornerback even more important. It puts a great deal more pressure on the Chiefs’ secondary if their division rivals suddenly have competent pass catchers. Jeudy and Ruggs, for example, are far more fearsome than the likes of Zay Jones and DaeSean Hamilton.