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|Brett Veach thought he was in good shape offensively after adding wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency Doug Flutie Jersey , and that the Kansas City Chiefs‘ most pressing needs were entirely on defense.
So, he used the entire draft to address them.
After using their first three picks on that side of the ball, Veach used the final day of the draft to select three more on Saturday.
Texas A&M safety Armani Watts went in the fourth round, cornerback Tremon Smith went in the sixth round and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie went two picks later.
They joined Ole Miss pass rusher Breeland Speaks, Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel in filling out the Chiefs’ defense-heavy draft class.
”Listen, all drafts are unique in their own way in regards to those players and the positions you feel the depth is,” Veach said. ”Every year is different.”
Evidently, there was plenty of talent available on defense this year – so much so that the Chiefs think one of their picks can play the other side of the ball.
McKenzie worked out at guard for the Chiefs at the combine, and is talented enough that they want to give him a shot there.
The Chiefs figure to be one of the most explosive offenses in the league next season, even with new quarterback Patrick Mahomes II. Reigning rushing champ Kareem Hunt, speedy Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill and star tight end Travis Kelce join Watkins in giving coach Andy Reid plenty of options.
But there were numerous holes on an aging defense, one that was gutted by the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs last season.
The Chiefs moved on from erstwhile linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali, released safety Ron Parker and even traded their top cover corner Mitch Morse Jersey , Marcus Peters.
They made a couple of moves in free agency, signing linebacker Anthony Hitchens and defensive tackle Xavier Williams, but chose to primarily fill out a defense in need of a nasty streak through the draft.
”Your expectations are always for guys to come in and compete for starting job, or see a lot of playing time, and the higher you pick the more confident you are in those guys coming in,” Veach said. ”You hope those guys will come in and play right away, or be part of a steady rotation.”
The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round pick, but Veach was high on the three defensive players he added on the second day. The trio of selections Saturday provides depth, special teams talent and massive upside.
Here is a closer look at the Chiefs’ draft class:
SPEAKING OF STARTING: Speaks probably has the best chance to get on the field right away, especially if outside linebacker Dee Ford’s recovery from a back injury takes longer than expected. Even then, Speaks is a better-rounded prospect and could soon find himself starting opposite Justin Houston.
”You want safeties and you want corners,” Veach said, ”but you have to affect the quarterback. You can’t go out there and play 7-on-7. And we looked at it as the last chance to get a guy.”
RIVAL ROOKIE: McKenzie’s father is Reggie McKenzie Denzel Perryman Jersey , the longtime NFL linebacker and the current GM of the AFC West-rival Oakland Raiders. ”I didn’t talk to the dad,” said Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto,” but I’ve talked to the kid a bunch of times. It was kind of a chuckle when we took his son.”
DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH: Nnadi also could slide into the rotation right away, and his development will be important in the near future. Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Jarvis Jenkins are free agents after next season, and Williams and Chris Jones hit free agency the following offseason.
THE LATE PICKS: Watts was a four-year starter for Texas A&M and could slide into Parker’s spot alongside star safety Eric Berry. He was a third-team All-American after making 82 tackles and four picks as a senior, and a name the Chiefs didn’t expect to fall to them.
Smith was a tackling machine at Central Arkansas, and at 6-foot and 190 pounds, possesses the kind of size the Chiefs covet in a man-press cornerback. McKenzie is a mammoth, 320-pound defensive lineman who has the talent, makeup and lower-body strength to transition to offensive guard.
”We try to make it not complicated. Just watch the tape,” Veach said, ”and these guys play hard. Sometimes you get cute. Every little test Tyus Bowser Jersey , agility test, bend and this and that. Just an old rule of thumb: Does he make plays? Does he play hard? And these guys do.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Shin-Soo Choo will try to reach base for a 36th consecutive game Saturday when the Texas Rangers continue their three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The 35-year-old Rangers outfielder extended his streak to 35 games Friday night with a two-run homer against Fernando Romero.
His streak is the second longest in baseball this season, trailing only Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera, who reached in 40 straight games. It’s the longest by a Rangers player since Mark Teixeira made it on base in 36 straight games in 2006.
Julio Franco holds the franchise record for a season with 46 straight games and Will Clark reached in 58 straight games at the end of the 1995 and start of 1996 seasons.
“I signed here to get on base, that’s why they brought me here,” Choo said. “When I’ve been healthy, I’ve gotten on base.”
Choo has been on a tear the last month, slashing .306/.468/.556 in his last 30 games, leading to his name being mentioned more frequently in trade rumors as the Rangers remain stuck in the American League West cellar despite winning a season-high six straight games after opening their series in Minnesota with an 8-1 victory Friday night.
While he is open to joining a contender for a stretch run, he knows the $50 million-plus owed to him through the 2020 season could make that difficult.
“Probably (my) contract is still (an obstacle),” Choo admitted earlier this week. “It’s probably not easy. I’m not 28 or 30 anymore.”
The Rangers turn to Yovani Gallardo (0-0, 15.95 ERA) to keep their streak going Saturday. It will be the second start of the season for Gallardo, who was cut by Milwaukee at the end of spring training Dave Casper Jersey , then allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief before he was cut by Cincinnati and eventually signed a minor league deal with the Rangers.
Gallardo posted a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A Round Rock and was called up to face Colorado last Sunday. He allowed five runs and six hits while striking out four in a no-decision.
“I thought Yo threw the ball well,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “It was similar to what we’ve seen in the past from Yo. He gave up a couple of soft hits, the walks are something not typical of Yo, but he managed the game and was able to give us some length.”
Gallardo is 4-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 11 career starts against Minnesota.
Jake Odorizzi (3-4, 3.48 ERA) starts Saturday for the Twins, who are looking to get back on track after losing two straight and scoring just three runs in those games combined.
Odorizzi is looking for a bounce-back outing himself after the Indians tagged him for four runs in five innings his last time out on Sunday.
He is 4-0 with 2.02 ERA in six career starts against the Rangers.
The Twins should get a bit of a boost Saturday as third baseman Eduardo Escobar is expected to return to the lineup. He sat out the series opener Friday after taking a pitch to an elbow a day earlier against the Boston Red Sox.
“I think probably a tad better than I expected,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s sore and there’s some limitation because there’s still a lot of swelling there that impedes his ability probably to throw accurately, as well as take his normal swing. But I’m fairly optimistic that in another, roughly, a little less than 24 hours, that he might be able to start a game tomorrow.”
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