2021 NFL Draft: Chiefs’ team needs, draft picks, top prospects to keep an eye on

The Kansas City Chiefs were stunningly overmatched in every phase of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV en route to the 31-9 defeat. Without two starting offensive tackles, Patrick Mahomes was under pressure on more than half of his drop backs and never really got into a rhythm. 

On defense, Tom Brady and Co. really did whatever they wanted for most of the evening, with a consistent and effective blend of run and pass throughout.  

So it’s back to the drawing board for Andy Reid’s team, and here’s a peek ahead at the 2021 NFL Draft to get an idea as to what the Super Bowl runner-ups need to do to get back to the big game next season.

Here’s what you need to know about the Kansas City Chiefs and the 2021 NFL Draft.

2021 draft picks

  • Round 1: Pick 31
  • Round 2: Pick 63
  • Round 3: Pick 95
  • Round 4: Pick 127
  • Round 5: Pick 159
  • Round 6: None
  • Round 7: Pick 223

Biggest offseason needs

  • Interior offensive line
  • Offensive tackle
  • Cornerback
  • Edge rusher
  • Wide receiver
  • Interior defensive line

Three Super Bowl starters — Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie, and Mike Remmers are all free agents. LT Eric Fisher, coming off a torn Achilles, is set to hit the market in 2022 when he’ll be 31. While his injury occurred much earlier in the season, star right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is in a similar situation as Fisher, and he’ll be 33 when he hits free agency in 2022. Not to mention, backups Daniel Kilgore and Stefan Wisniewski are unrestricted free agents now too. 

The Chiefs will get guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and 2020 draft pick Lucas Niang back from their opt-outs, but other than that, Kansas City’s blocking unit is in a state of flux. The Chiefs need to revamp most if not all of their offensive line, although the latter is a rare occurrence and far from recommended.

Man-coverage specialist Bashaud Breeland is a free agent, as are secondary receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson. Also, the Chiefs simply have to get more efficient rushing the passer from the outside, and Frank Clark has a mammoth $25.8 million cap number in 2021.

Prospects to watch

Wyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State

Once considered a top half of the first round prospect, Davis wasn’t as dominant in 2020 as he was the year before, but he remains a stocky, athletic, and remarkably balanced guard prospect. Davis isn’t truly special in any one phase of the game, he just does everything well. He’ll need to dial back his aggression as a pass protector in the NFL, and his run-blocking is pro-ready. There’s a good chance he’s on the board at No. 31 overall.

Alex Leatherwood, OT/OG, Alabama

Leatherwood spent the past two seasons at left tackle for the Crimson Tide, and held it down. Before that, he played right guard, despite having a mammoth, tackle-sized frame. Like Davis, he’s a good athlete, plenty powerful, and more of a jack-of-all-trades than a master in any area. His positional versatility would be a welcomed addition to Kansas City’s blocking unit. 

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse 

Likely available on the second day of the draft, Melifonwu has freaky size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) for an outside cornerback with smooth hips and outstanding flexibility to stay with separators at all levels of the field. In Steve Spanuolo’s defense, one that prides itself on quality man-coverage play from its corners, Melifonwu would be a perfect fit. 

Janarius Robinson, EDGE, Florida State

Likely on the board a little later in the draft, Robinson fits the size and athletic profile the Brett Veach-led Chiefs typically like. He’s a towering presence on the edge and has explosive, effortless athleticism. Are there some nuances he needs to learn to routinely beat NFL pass protectors? Absolutely. But in the middle of the draft, Robinson is the type of prospect smart teams take a chance on because of his natural gifts.