Chiefs trying to match team’s shopping list with draft slots


The Kansas City Star

Because of the trade that brought quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel from New England, the Chiefs have no selection in between the first and third rounds of the upcoming draft.
They are proceeding as if they’ll pick later in the first round, sometime in the second or perhaps both. They entertained three highly regarded defensive prospects Thursday at their Truman Sports Complex headquarters — defensive end Brian Orakpo of Texas and linebackers Connor Barwin of Cincinnati and James Laurinaitis of Ohio State.
Orakpo, who had 11 sacks for the Longhorns last season, is one of the draft’s most coveted players, and the Chiefs could choose him with their top pick, third overall.
Barwin and Laurinaitis will probably be selected later in the first round or possibly the second. That is no-man’s land for the Chiefs currently but maybe not by the time the draft rolls around.
“We kind of touched on that a little bit,” Barwin said. “The Chiefs asked me how high I thought I would be drafted. I said I expected to be drafted in the first round, but I didn’t think I would go as high as the third pick overall.
“They said they had the third pick right now but that things could change. They never told me I’d be a Chief, but they did say they didn’t know what draft picks they might have April 25.”
When Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was personnel director for New England, the Patriots were aggressive traders when it came to the draft. They frequently tried to collect extra draft picks and were usually successful.
Of the nine drafts in which Pioli was involved, six times the Patriots made more than their originally allotted seven picks.
The Chiefs this year have seven picks. They are missing their second-rounder but picked up an extra selection at the end of the seventh round as a compensatory pick.
Barwin in particular looks like a Pioli kind of player. He had 10 sacks last season, his first in college as a defensive player.
“From what they told me, it looks like I’m a guy who would be a pressure player in their 3-4 defense,” Barwin said. “Primarily, I’d be a guy that could rush the passer from a standup position at outside linebacker and also drop into coverage at times.”
The Chiefs also value Barwin for his versatility. He was a tight end during his first three collegiate seasons, catching 31 passes as a junior. Barwin said some teams he’s talked to are interested in him primarily as a tight end.
The Chiefs are not among them, but he said they indicated plans to use him as an extra tight end in certain situations.
Barwin was moved to defense as a senior because his coaches thought he could have more impact there than on offense. The Bearcats moved to the spread, largely eliminating the need for a tight end.
“I think it was good for me,” he said. “I got to show teams my versatility. I can play defense, but I can always go back to tight end, too.”
Vrabel is, like Barwin, an outside linebacker. He was also an effective pass receiver as an extra tight end for the Patriots in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
“I know all about what Mike’s done as a linebacker and catching passes as an extra tight end,” Barwin said. “That would be an ideal mentor for me to learn from right away.”
Vrabel was also a defensive end in college at Ohio State. He had to make the transition to linebacker in the NFL, just as Barwin will.
“I have some foundation for that from high school,” Barwin said. “I played that position in high school. But there are teams, and the Chiefs I guess are one of them, that think I can play that position in the NFL, too. I’m good playing in open areas, but I can also rush the quarterback, too.”