Given their free agent losses this offseason, the Chiefs could garner multiple compensatory picks in 2015, which could set them up to be a major player in next spring’s draft.
However, the Chiefs enter the 2014 draft as a prime trade-down candidate. They have just six selections: one first-rounder (No. 23), one third-rounder (No. 87), one fourth-rounder (No. 124), one fifth-rounder (No. 163) and two sixth-rounders (Nos. 193, 200).
Here are the Chiefs’ top draft needs:
Wide receiver: The Chiefs have a viable go-to receiver in Dwayne Bowe, whose eight-catch, 150-yard performance in the January wild card loss at Indianapolis was a reminder of what he can do on his best. However, Bowe will be 30 in September, and the Chiefs need a second outside target capable of consistently stepping up when their No. 1 wideout is well-covered. They also could look to add a replacement for the quick, versatile Dexter McCluster, too. Given their depth chart at the position, and given the sheer number of good receiver prospects available, the Chiefs seem likely to add to their pass catching corps.
Interior offensive line: Like wide receiver, it’s hard to see the Chiefs not bolstering their options between the tackles after losing guards Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz in free agency. What’s more, starting left guard Jeff Allen and starting center Rodney Hudson can test unrestricted free agency after the season.
Offensive tackle: 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher will move to left tackle to replace the departed Branden Albert. With a season of experience, Fisher could show improvement in 2014, but he will be coming off of shoulder and hernia surgery. At right tackle, third-year pro Donald Stephenson appears to the top option. At a minimum, the depth behind Fisher and Stephenson is in need of reinforcement.
Safety: Starting free safety Kendrick Lewis signed with Houston, leaving the Chiefs with at least one depth chart spot to fill at the position. Also, star strong safety Eric Berry can reach unrestricted free agency at season’s end; given his skill and the increasing premium on safeties that can cover, he will be expensive to retain long-term. No matter how the Chiefs proceed with Berry, bringing in another safety that can hold up in pass coverage would be a good idea.
Outside linebacker: Pro Bowler Justin Houston enters the final year of his deal. He is poised to receive a second contract that should place him among the higher-paid 3-4 outside linebackers in the game. The Chiefs’ other outside linebacker, Tamba Hali, has two years left on his deal, but he will be 32 years old when his contract expires. The depth behind Hali and Houston is serviceable, but the Chiefs could use an edge-rushing prospect to serve as an apprentice behind the starters.