While others reach, talent falls to Chiefs
By Rick Gosselin
Dallas Morning News
NEW YORK — The Kansas City Chiefs intended to trade out of the fifth pick of the 2008 NFL draft. But their thinking changed when the best player in the draft parachuted into their lap.
All trade talks were off when LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey slid to the Chiefs in the first round. The rebuilding of a once-proud franchise was suddenly in full tilt.
"Never in our lives did we think we could get an opportunity to get Glenn Dorsey," Chiefs personnel director Bill Kuharich said.
Heading into the draft, Kansas City’s most pressing need was at offensive tackle. But the fifth spot in the draft was a bit rich to select any of the four remaining elite tackles on the board: Ryan Clady, Chris Williams, Branden Albert or Jeff Otah.
The Chiefs expected Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston, the best pass rusher in the draft, to be there when they went on the clock, and they knew they’d get calls from teams seeking to move up for him.
The Chiefs didn’t need a defensive tackle, not after drafting Turk McBride and Tank Tyler in the first day of the 2007 draft. But Dorsey walks in as the new sheriff of that trio. He won the Lombardi, Lott, Nagurski and Outland trophies in 2007 for his disruptive dominance inside for the national champions.
Not that Kansas City’s defensive interior couldn’t be upgraded, though. The Chiefs ranked 28th in the NFL in run defense. The New York Giants showed everyone that rotating linemen upgrades performance. Suddenly, you can count the Chiefs among the advocates of that strategy.
Kansas City then addressed its most pressing need with a second first-round draft pick, claiming Albert, an offensive lineman from Virginia. He plugs in as the starting left tackle, protecting Brodie Croyle’s blind side.
Kansas City still had plenty of holes, as one would expect on a team that finished 4-12. The Chiefs needed help on offense, where they ranked 31st in the NFL. But most of all, they needed to get younger. They fielded the second-oldest starting lineup in the NFL.
With 12 picks, Kansas City saturated its roster with youth and talent. Cornerback Brandon Flowers of Virginia Tech carried late first-round value, and the Chiefs selected him in the second round.
Running back Jamaal Charles of Texas carried high second-round value, and the Chiefs selected him in the third.
Tight end Brad Cottam of Tennessee and safety DaJuan Morgan of North Carolina State each carried second-round value, and the Chiefs landed both in the third.
The Chiefs also had a superb sixth round, drafting a potential starter at right offensive tackle in Barry Richardson and one of the college game’s electric kick returners in Utah State’s Kevin Robinson. Richardson started 45 consecutive games at Clemson, and Robinson returned seven college kicks for scores.
In a draft where reaching for need prevailed, patience rewarded a team that allowed good players to slide to them.
Here are the draft picks viewed by NFL writer Rick Gosselin as the best values in each round:
FIRST: Rashard Mendenhall, HB, Illinois by Pittsburgh (23rd overall). The run of offensive tackles pushed the offensive skill positions down the board. That allowed the Steelers to steal the Big Ten MVP and 1,600-yard rusher with the 23rd pick.
SECOND: Chad Henne, QB, Michigan by Miami (57th). Baltimore’s surprising trade into the first-round for Joe Flacco allowed Henne and Brian Brohm to slide together into the second round. Henne was a four-year starter and Michigan’s all-time leading passer. He’ll be reunited with Jake Long at Miami.
THIRD: Oneil Cousins, G, UTEP by Baltimore (99th). Cousins carried second-round value on some NFL draft boards, and the Ravens claimed him with a compensatory third-rounder. Cousins played both tackle positions in college but projects as a guard in the NFL.
FOURTH: Bryan Kehl, OLB, BYU by NY Giants (123rd). A Giants-type of player — team captain, two-time academic All-Mountain West and the second-
leading tackler on a defense that allowed only one 100-yard rusher in 2007.
FIFTH: Orlando Scandrick, CB, Boise State by Dallas (143rd). The fifth round isn’t what Scandrick envisioned when he opted to skip his senior season at Boise State. He has size (5-10, 192), speed (4.35) and special-teams skill (four career blocked kicks) to have an impact as a rookie.
SIXTH: Paul Hubbard, WR, Wisconsin by Cleveland (191st). Hubbard entered the 2007 season as the top-rated wide receiver for the 2008 draft. But he missed half the season with a knee injury, and his stock plummeted. Hubbard has a career 17.5-yard average and was a sprinter on the Wisconsin track team.
SEVENTH: Ervin Baldwin, DE, Michigan State by Chicago (208th) . Baldwin finished third in the Big Ten with 18 1/2 tackles for loss in 2007, including 8 1/2 sacks. You generally don’t find big-school productivity like that in the seventh round.