Analysis NFL Draft

Re-Visiting The Chiefs’ 2019 Draft Class: Was It A Bust?

It's been four years since the 2019 draft, so how did the Chiefs do in hindsight? Did the Chiefs knock it out of the park, have an awful draft, or somewhere in between?

It’s been four years since the 2019 draft, so how did the Chiefs do in hindsight? Did the Chiefs knock it out of the park, have an awful draft, or somewhere in between?

Five years ago, in 2018, the Chiefs managed to pull off one of the worst draft classes in history. It was GM Brett Veach’s first swing at the draft as the man in charge, and it was certainly a learning experience. Recently he has shown vast improvement in his drafting skills, but how did he fair in his second attempt at the draft?

The 2019 draft was an interesting one as the Chiefs didn’t have a first-round pick as they traded it for Frank Clark. They also entered the draft unsure if their best WR, Tyreek Hill, would be suspended for domestic abuse allegations. Both of these factors influenced how the Chiefs were drafted. So, how did they do?

The Chiefs Trade Up For Mecole Hardman

As mentioned, the Chiefs were unsure about circumstances surrounding Tyreek Hill, so they felt it was necessary to trade up for receiver Mecole Hardman. Of course, the situation with Tyreek panned out, and he was good to go for the start of the season, but there was no way to know that at the time. Mecole was considered the best fit and thus was the selection.

Mecole Hardman hasn’t been a bust by any means. The issue is that there we better options on the board at the position. DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and Diontae Johnson were all taken shortly after Hardman, and all three are better players. However, the draft isn’t a perfect science, and Hardman was the best fit for the Chiefs at the time.

Mecole Hardman has been a very solid role player for the Chiefs and is in a prime position to see more targets this season with the departure of Tyreek Hill. It’s a contract year for the entire 2019 draft class, but Mecole has more on the line than anyone else with the inflated WR market. So, maybe we’ll finally see a true breakout year from Mecole.

While Mecole may not have been the best possible pick, he wasn’t a bad pick either. Just a very average one. It could always be worse. The Patriots took N’Keal Harry in the first round, and the Eagles to JJ Arcega-Whiteside directly after Hardman. Both of which have been absolute busts. Mecole has one more season to prove to Kansas City he is worth keeping around.

The Chiefs Land A Stud In The Secondary

With the 63rd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected Juan Thornhill. In his rookie season, Juan Thornhill was by far the best pick the Chiefs made in the draft. At the time, he may have even been the defensive steal of the draft.

Unfortunately for Thornhill, his rookie season didn’t end quite as planned. Thornhill tore his ACL in the final week of the regular season. He missed out on the playoffs despite having an exceptional rookie season. Thornhill would have to watch from the sidelines as the Chiefs would go on to win the Super Bowl.

The next season was what would be considered a “recovery” year for Thornhill. He took a step backward from his rookie season, but recovering from ACL tears is rarely easy. This season we saw more of what we saw from his rookie year, but there is still progress to be made. The Chiefs love to run three safety sets. They signed Justin Reid and drafted Bryan Cook in the second round. Like Hardman, this is Thornhill’s chance to prove he is worth a major extension. If not, the team already has the pieces to move on.

The Chiefs Take A Chance On A Small-School Prospect

It’s fine to take a chance on a prospect at the end of day two of the draft, and the Chiefs did just that when they took Khalen Saunders out of Western Illinois. However, it would not pay off as this is the first pick in the 2019 draft that you could label a downright bust. Saunders has shown flashes at times but has been injured much of his career. He has one sack over three years in the league and not a single tackle-for-loss.

It is well known the biggest weakness the Chiefs have had in the past several years is their pass rush. It’s rather unfortunate a division rival in the Raiders managed to land Maxx Crosby about twenty picks after Saunders. Perhaps Saunders will be able to turn the page this season and prove he was worthy of a day two pick, but up to this point, he has shown next to nothing on the field. He does have an A+ Twitter account, though.

The Chiefs Land A Steal In The Draft

In hindsight, the best pick the Chiefs made in their entire 2019 draft class was their sixth-round pick, cornerback Rashad Fenton. Fenton has improved every season and has proven to be a dependable role player for the defense. There are even moments we’ve seen Fenton lock down some of the best receivers in the league. To get a high-end starting cornerback at the end of the draft is phenomenal value.

Fenton will be one of two starting cornerbacks returning to the Chiefs’ defense this season. Of all the players on this list, Fenton deserves to be the first one paid. Fenton has missed some play time to injury, but nothing major. He is best as a slot corner but can play the boundary if called upon. Overall, the Chiefs nailed this pick.

The Chiefs Take A Late Round Flier

Up to this point, Brett Veach has shown he doesn’t quite get the formula for drafting running backs. Darwin Thompson is the more forgivable pick as a sixth-rounder, though. He was a player with some good traits and some bad.

The thing that stood out the most was his explosiveness; we also got to see this in the pre-season. However, it never leads to any regular-season production. Thompson played on special teams for two seasons before missing out on final roster cuts in year three. As an undersized player, he relied on his speed/burst to succeed, but it wasn’t enough to make it to the next level. Even though Thompson didn’t work out, you can’t label a sixth-round player as a bust.

Chiefs Understand You Can Never Have Too Many O-Lineman

With their final pick, the Chiefs selected Nick Allegretti. For a seventh-round lineman, Allegretti has proven to be more than capable of filling in when needed. Allegretti is a solid player, and while he may not be a full-time starter, he’s the kind of guy you are glad to have as a backup.

Not much else to say about Allegretti; he is a player who understands his role and is great at what he does. If there is one position Veach has drafted better than any other GM in the league, it has to be the offensive line. Allegretti is everything you could hope for in a seventh-round pick.

Conclusion: Chiefs 2019 Class Was Average

There you have it, that wraps up the Chiefs 2019 draft class. Overall, the class was solid. Nothing special, but no big misses either. The first two picks were both decent selections, and their third pick was their only real miss. They landed two great role players in the later rounds; to top it off; they won the Super Bowl after this draft class.

Could they have done better? Yes, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight. Brett Veach has shown consistent improvement when it comes to the draft. Personally, there is no GM I would trust more going forward. Now we have to wait and see if anyone from the 2019 draft class can exceed expectations in 2022 and earn an extension.

Click here to read about how the Chiefs could miss the playoffs in 2022.