By Paul Thompson
April 21, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Kansas City Chiefs’ collection of 2016 draft picks officially took a hit on Monday, April 18, when NFL emperor commissioner Roger Goodell declined to reduce the tampering penalty incurred by the team following the recruitment of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last off-season.
If you recall, the NFL announced in March that the Chiefs would lose a 3rd-round pick in 2016 and a 6th-round pick in 2017 for contacting Maclin before the 2015 free agency period began, a violation of league rules. The team quickly filed an appeal of the ruling, at which time team chairman Clark Hunt called the penalty “inconsistent with discipline enforced in similar matters” in a strong statement released on the team’s website.
Until Monday, there was hope among Kansas City faithful that the penalty would be reduced on appeal. While the fines issued to the team, head coach Andy Reid, and general manager John Dorsey were indeed slightly reduced after the proceedings, the Chiefs were unable to recover either of their two forfeited picks.
This is already bad news on the surface, and it gets even more alarming when considering the success that the Chiefs have historically enjoyed in the third round of the draft. Under the Dorsey regime alone, Kansas City has managed to select Knile Davis (2013), Travis Kelce (2013), Phillip Gaines (2014), and Chris Conley (2015) in the third round of the draft. Going back further, Donald Stephenson (2012), Justin Houston (2011), and Allen Bailey (2011) were – you guessed it – also selected in the third round. A nicer individual might spare you the added detail that long-time starters Jamaal Charles (2008) and Dustin Colquitt (2005) were 3rd-round selections, but this isn’t that kind of column.
This is more of a ‘woe is me, life is unfair, the sky is falling’ type of column. The 2016 NFL Draft will begin on April 28, and barring a trade, the Chiefs will now have to watch 65 selections pass them by between the 59th overall pick and the 126th. For reference, the Chiefs have squeezed a total of 582 games played and a combined 10 Pro Bowl berths out of the nine players listed above. There’s good reason to be apoplectic about this lost pick.
It’s not just the Chiefs who have found good fortune in the third round, either. A cursory look at the 2015 NFL Draft reveals that a handful of key contributors were selected during that round. Seattle wide receiver and special teams ace Tyler Lockett made the Pro Bowl, while Arizona running back David Johnson, Minnesota defensive end Danielle Hunter, Cleveland running back Duke Johnson, Oakland tight end Clive Walford, Washington running back Matt Jones, Jacksonville guard A.J. Cann, and Buffalo guard John Miller all established themselves as substantial building blocks during their rookie campaigns.
This isn’t an especially new trend. From 2012 to 2014, five additional players (and the aforementioned Kelce) were named to the Pro Bowl after being selected in the third round. These are some of the most productive, cost-effective contributors in the league, and at least for 2016, the Chiefs are going to have to make due without one of them.
How many future stars will go in the third round of the 2016 draft, while the Chiefs watch on with their hands tied behind their backs? How many crucial games will now be played for a rival team? With the second and third rounds of the draft scheduled for Friday, April 29, we won’t have to wait much longer to begin wondering exactly that.