By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
Since the beginning of the offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs wasted little time to start rebuilding the defense – by seeking out a new defensive coordinator and staff, in addition to signing six new players.
Some of the #Chiefs‘ defensive additions this offseason:
DC Steve Spagnuolo
LBs – Matt House
DL – Brendan Daly
DBs – Dave Merritt
CBs – Sam Madison
S Tyrann Mathieu
DE Frank Clark
CB Bashaud Breeland
DE Alex Okafor
DE Emmanuel Ogbah
LB Damien Wilson
— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) April 25, 2019
They continued during the 2019 NFL Draft. Here is the Chiefs draft class of 2019:
Round 2 (56) WR Mecole Hardman (Georgia)
This highly recruited wide receiver is now a Chief. And the Chiefs made sure to get Mecole by trading up to select him. Although some fans criticized the move – Hardman’s stats speak for itself.
According to Matt McMullen, the Chiefs’ digital media producer: Hardman hauled in 59 catches for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last 29 games for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.1 yards per catch. In addition to recording seven catches of 30+ yards – and four of at least 50+ yards – last season alone.
Hardman is fast! Like really fast! The Georgia native, ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, ranking him the fifth-fastest among all players at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year. He’ll more likely make an immediate impact on special teams as he develops.
Round 2 (63) S Juan Thornhill (Virginia)
Basketball player turned football player.
Thornhill is a versatile player. He played both safety and quarterback in high school – leading his squad to back-to-back state championships. And appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10 for his incredible skills on the court during a state championship game. Thornhill ultimately switched to defensive back upon joining the Cavaliers.
During the Combine, Thornhill came close to breaking the vertical jump record by one inch when he posted a 44-inch jump. Including, ranking second in bench press reps (22) among the defensive backs. Those basketball skills came in handy.
Along with a prolific athletic career, he’s at his best reading the quarterback and wide receiver in front of him to make aggressive breaks on the ball. Thornhill makes a great prospect for the roster and can thrive with his skills.
Round 3 (84) DL Khalen Saunders (W. Illinois)
This is easily my favorite pick of the draft. Not because he can thrive executing the stunts and twists in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. But he has the arguably best story in the entire draft.
The St. Louis native became a father while participating in this year’s Senior Bowl. During the middle of the event, he received news about the birth of his daughter. Saunders celebrated in the best way possible by performing multiple backflips. Hopefully, we’ll get to witness it on the field celebrating a touchdown.
— Sully Engels (@SullyKSNT) April 27, 2019
Saunders is a big, fluid athlete that adds more depth with defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi – who is under contract in 2020. The DL has a ton of potential and could be very valuable down the road.
Round 6 (201) CB Rashad Fenton (S. Carolina)
The Chiefs addressed the cornerback position with this pick.
Fenton had a strong finish to an impressive college career – appearing in 48 games (30 starts) over the course of his four-year career in Columbia, recording 122 tackles, 24 passes defended, five picks and a forced fumble.
He has quick feet that make him competitive and a willing tackler. Even though, he has a good punch in his press – Fenton struggles against bigger receivers.
There are some workable traits, but it’ll be an uphill battle for Fenton to stick on the 53-man roster. He’s most likely heading for the practice squad if he hangs around.
Round 6 (214) RB Darwin Thompson (Utah St.)
Here’s another selection I enjoy.
Thompson is a small and shifty running back. He makes sharp lateral cuts and is elusive in space. These traits make him the only running back on the roster with these abilities.
Darwin played one season at Utah State, where he forced 48 missed tackles and had 765 yards after contact. Prior to that, he racked up a few accolades at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. In addition to making school history the second-most rushing yards (2,240) – he was the Southwest Junior College Football Conference Offensive MVP and a Second-Team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American as a sophomore, rushing for 1,391 yards and eight scores.
And he comes with some family history, his uncle David Thompson, played running back for the St. Louis Rams from 1997-1999.
Round 7 (216) OG Nick Allegretti (Illinois)
Allegretti is an intelligent, versatile player who was a three-year starter and two-time captain for the Illini. He lined up at both offensive guard and center, demonstrating an ability to hold down either position.
As SB Nation’s Arrowhead Pride pointed out, the Chiefs have been good about finding value players who can execute in their outside zone-heavy scheme late in the draft. And I agree.
Allegretti is a philanthropist. He led the Illini’s “Lift For Life” campaign – raising more than $88,000 for charity over the course of two years; and was the President of the Illinois Uplifting Athletes Chapter, which raises funds for rare disease research and treatment. He also is a two-time Wuerffel Trophy nominee – which annually recognizes those that excel both on the field and in the area of community service.
I hope he’ll continue his charity work in Kansas City, following the departure of defensive back Eric Berry – who was best known to host charitable events.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) April 27, 2019
Overall, the Chiefs had a successful draft, by picking a remarkably healthy class and focusing on positions that needed the most help.
With the 2019 NFL draft behind us, now it’s time to sign undrafted free agents. Rumors have floating around all weekend. And in the coming weeks, we will find out if some of these rumors will come to fruition or stay that, just fantasies.
Talk Chiefs with Araceli on Twitter // @Araceliv1