The Kansas City Chiefs have been linked with the same names again and again in most mock drafts at the No. 11 position in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Luke Kuechly, David DeCastro and Dontari Poe are the most common names with Ryan Tannehill making some noise as well if the quarterback slips down. However, one name that should stand out more based on need, position and college production is Fletcher Cox.
There’s a likelihood that Cox could be taken in the top ten of the draft, which makes this a moot point. However, the Chiefs were third to last in the NFL in total sacks last season, and Tamba Hali is their only proven pass rusher. Justin Houston had a couple nice games at season’s end, but that doesn’t mean the team can bank on him to complement Hali all year long. The reality is that they need a third pass rusher.
He also fills a need at 3-4 end, something the Chiefs will have to think about in the future. Todd McShay described him recently and listed out the reasons why he’s likely to be a high pick:
As far as the defensive tackles, it’s a deep group, and there’s a lot of talent here. Fletcher Cox, the more tape I watch, the more he just grew on me, and I love his versatility. I think he plays the game hard. I think he can rush the passer both from the inside and the outside, different styles, more of a three technique.
On the outside he seals the edge and is stronger at the point of attack than when he plays on the inside, but I also see some ability to get off the quarterback with power moves and leverage moves as a left defensive end type or a 3-4 defensive end, as well, on occasion. I think he’s the best of the group, I really do, and I think he’ll continue to get better.
The Chiefs already have high-cost investments at defensive end, but only one on Scott Pioli’s watch as general manager — Tyson Jackson. While TJ has gotten better and Glenn Dorsey holds his own, neither player has been able to fully silence his critics since being drafted in the top five (or three for Jackson). In addition, Jackson is due a ridiculous $14 million next season. That figure is simply too much.
Cox would give the team some leverage and flexibility — something that Pioli seems to love. He drafted Jon Baldwin before he ever had to make a call one way or the other on Dwayne Bowe. He signed Stanford Routt before doing the same with Brandon Carr. Instead of waiting for his one option to work out. Pioli seems to like to add a position of need while also allowing that move to serve as a Plan B in case a player leaves in the future.
While there are definitely other great players available to take in the draft at that spot, perhaps none comes with the ceiling that Cox would bring at a position of need both right now and in the future.