The Kansas City Chiefs are currently set to have five picks in this year’s NFL draft, with one in each of the five five rounds. While there aren’t many picks in the Chiefs’ arsenal this year, this will be the first time since 2017 and just the second time in the last five drafts they will have a first-round pick.
Of course, that selection is a borderline second-round pick, literally. It’s the final pick of the first round. That’s a good thing because it means Kansas City won the Super Bowl, but it also likely won’t net it one of the top-tier talents in this year’s draft.
So, take into consideration a couple of factors here, both the general lack of picks and the quality of player available at selection No. 32. With that in mind, would it be worth it for the Chiefs to trade down in this year’s draft?
And, if so, how low should they go?
A lot of this is going to depend on free agency, which, despite a global health crisis currently plaguing the United States, is still scheduled to begin on Wednesday. Although, we will start to know where some pieces will fall as early as Monday morning when the so-called “legal tampering” window opens. Thus, in the next few days Kansas City’s needs could suddenly look a lot different. If the Chiefs bring back either Bashaud Breeland or Kendall Fuller they may not look to add a cornerback early in the draft. If Chris Jones is tagged and traded then the interior defensive line may become a top need.
What the Chiefs need to focus on, regardless of what happens during the free agency window, is acquiring cheap talent. Patrick Mahomes is likely going to sign the richest contract in NFL history either this offseason or next, which will eat up a giant portion of the salary cap. That’s fine, because he’s the best player in the NFL and your Super Bowl window is permanently open as long as he’s running the offense. But if he’s taking up 20%+ of the salary cap, the rest of the roster must be built with players on smaller contracts.
And if Jones gets a long-term extension from the Chiefs it will make the need for cheap talent even more dire.
In order to acquire as many inexpensive pieces as possible, Kansas City will need to consider adding draft picks. The best way to do that is trading back from the 32nd-overall selection.
The last time a team traded the final pick of the first round was in 2018, when the Philadelphia Eagles sent the No. 32 overall selection to the Baltimore Ravens for two second rounders (one in 2018, one in 2019) and a swap of fourth rounders.
Baltimore then selected 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
Would the Chiefs be content adding two second rounders over the course of two drafts? It’s certainly in the realm of possibility. It allows them to plan for the future while still selecting a player this year who would likely be at a similar talent level to whoever would be available with their original pick.
If they can swap mid-round picks and move up a few spots as part of the deal, even better.
That’s not the only option, though. Depending on how far the Chiefs are willing to drop in the draft order, they could wheel and deal with another team based on the draft pick trade value chart. As pointed out in that link, Jimmy Johnson devised that chart in the 90s as a rough estimate of what a pick worth in terms of what you could trade it for. Things change over time, though, including what the value of a draft pick is. Thus, for our purposes, we’ll uses a more modern version of the value chart from 2018, which was created by Rich Hill over at Pat’s Pulpit.
The fun thing about playing with the value chart is the endless number of possibilities you can come up with. As an example for the Chiefs, let’s say they’re willing to go down as far as 10 spots in the draft, trading trading No. 42 and getting back into the draft at No. 42. That would require a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags own 11 picks in this year’s draft, including double picks in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
Obviously, the first rounders don’t make sense as part of the equation here, but we can mix and match the other selections. The Jacksonville wanted to move up and get a third pick in the first round, Kansas City could ask for multiple picks back. In terms of Hill’s trade values, the Chiefs could ask for the 42nd-overall pick (second round), 116th overall (fourth) and 165th overall (fifth) for the approximate value of the 32nd pick, and may even be able to work out a late-round swap, too.
Or, if the goal was just to add as many picks as possible, make it the 42nd picks plus multiple picks in rounds 4-6. If you really want to mix it up, you could send away the 32nd pick for a third rounder, two in the fourth and another late-round selection, then trade some of that to get back into the early part of the second round.
The possibilities are truly almost endless.
Again, it comes down to the Chiefs needing to add as many young, controllable, inexpensive players as possible. Cheap players who can make a difference are how you build a roster with a monster quarterback contract on the books.
Along with the option to trade out of No. 32, Kansas City will also add several picks if it trades Jones. Clearly, the options are there if the Chiefs want to take one of them. It would make perfect sense if they choose to. It’s no fun to go without a first-round pick year after year, but Kansas City needs to think about how to build a roster in the mega-contract era, which it will face in the near future. The best way to address that is to follow the classic “draft and develop” strategy.