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2014 NFL Draft primer: Kansas City Chiefs

Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks makes a

Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks makes a catch as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. Credit: AP / Michael Conroy

This is the latest primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit. The draft begins Thursday, May 8.


2013 record: 11-5

Key offseason acquisitions: DT Vance Walker, ILB Joe Mays.

Key offseason departures: G Geoff Schwartz, G Jon Asamoah, OT Branden Albert, WR Dexter McCluster, DE Tyson Jackson, FS Quintin Demps, DT Jerrell Powe, CB Dunta Robinson, FS Kendrick Lewis.

Biggest holes: Wide receiver, offensive line, free safety

Nobody was hurt by free agency more than Kansas City.

The Chiefs entered the offseason with glaring needs at wide receiver and safety, lots of pending free agents and only $4.5 million in cap space. Once free agency hit, they didn't act upon their needs and lost most of their free agents.

It could have been due to that lack of cap space, or it could have been a product of GM John Dorsey's Packers roots. As we mentioned in the Packers' primer, Packers GM Ted Thompson historically has built through the draft, eschewing big-name free agent signings in favor of stockpiling compensatory picks, and Dorsey may be following suit with the Chiefs.

Wide receiver would be the easiest need to fill in the first round. There are more wideouts worth a late first-round pick than offensive linemen or free safeties. The Chiefs could use an explosive, field-stretching complement to 6-2, 221-pound Dwayne Bowe.

Oregon State's Brandin Cooks would be the ideal pick here. Cooks won the Biletnikoff Award in 2013 as college football's top wide receiver with 128 catches for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's an explosive wideout who thrives in space, a skill set very similar to what Tavon Austin brings to the Rams, or what Percy Harvin brings to the Seahawks. He's also a threat in the return game. He thrives in the slot but has experience out wide as well.

They also could eye USC's Marqise Lee here. Lee won the Biletnikoff Award in 2012 but fell off a bit in 2013 due to nagging injuries. Still, the former track and field athlete has good speed and hands, runs clean routes and makes plays after the catch. If he can stay healthy, Lee could immediately contribute as a No. 2 and eventually become the Chiefs' top option.

A name that has risen up draft boards in the past month: Indiana's Cody Latimer. Latimer doesn't have too many flaws in his game -- he's a solid receiver with good hands, runs crisp routes and has a nice catch radius. He's not a speed demon like some of the other top receivers in this class, but he could thrive in the Chiefs' West Coast offense.

The Chiefs also lost the left side of their offensive line as well as a key versatile backup, so it's not out of the question for them to take a guard here. However, there aren't too many linemen worth taking at 23. One possibility is UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo, a balanced guard who uses his quickness and athleticism to get to the second level or to pull on run plays. He's also a solid pass blocker. He would be able to help open up some nice holes in front of running back Jamaal Charles and keep Alex Smith on his feet.

The Chiefs also need a safety to patrol the backfield and allow Eric Berry to play up in the box more often. If he's still available at this point, Nothern Illinois' Jimmie Ward would be a good pick. Ward is versatile - he can play centerfield, come up to the line of scrimmage to cover a slot receiver or cover a tight end in the box. He has great instincts, closes on the ball quickly and makes the interception with good hands and timing. He's a little small at 5-11 and 193 pounds, but he has all of the tools to succeed at the next level.

Although the Chiefs don't have a second-round pick, some possible mid-round and late-round options include LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Missouri WR L'Damian Washington, South Carolina WR Bruce Ellington, Oregon WR Josh Huff, Mississippi Stanford guard David Yankey, Florida guard Jon Halapio, North Carolina FS Tre Boston and USC FS Dion Bailey.

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