It has been more than a month, but the Kansas City Chiefs still have many reasons to celebrate. They finished on top as they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII, taking home the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the second time in four years.
Kansas City had a slow start to the season, going 4-2 which included a loss to the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts. They managed to win 10 of their last 11 games, with the only loss coming against the then-reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.
With home wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Bengals in the playoffs, the Chiefs returned to the Super Bowl for the third time since 2020. Thanks to a comeback led by MVP Patrick Mahomes, the team overcame a 10-point halftime deficit versus the Birds to become champions once again.
But the success came with a cost. Considered one of the top players on the market, offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Bengals. The Chiefs also lost other important players in free agency such as safety Juan Thornhill, who joined the Cleveland Browns.
Because of that, the team’s first-round pick gains even more importance. Kansas City will be selecting at No. 31 overall, which means most of the top players of the class will likely be gone by this point. Still, the front office could find some interesting names at the end of Day 1.
With that being said, here are three players that the Kansas City Chiefs should target with their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3. Dawand Jones, OT – Ohio State
In addition to Brown leaving, Kansas City’s offensive line had another key loss. Right tackle Andrew Wylie followed offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to the Washington Commanders.
Although the front office signed Jawaan Taylor, the Chiefs could always prioritize protecting Mahomes more. If that is the case, they should consider choosing Dawand Jones from Ohio State.
In 2022, the senior played in 11 games for the Buckeyes, totaling 693 snaps. He allowed four quarterback hurries, no quarterback hits and not a single sack. For his performance, he earned a First-Team All-American selection.
With his help, Ohio State finished in the top 10 in the nation with 490.7 yards of total offense per game.
Without Brown and Wylie, Kansas City could have Jones in the starting lineup right away. If he displays the same qualities he had in college, the Chiefs could avoid having Mahomes injured again.
2. Will McDonald IV, EDGE – Iowa State
Should Kansas City opt to go defense in the first round, they should consider selecting Will McDonald IV out of Iowa State.
This past season, he recorded 36 total tackles with 23 being solo. He also had four pass breakups and a forced fumble. Most importantly, the EDGE registered 5.0 sacks. For his career, McDonald has 34 total sacks.
He was a First-Team All-Big 12 for three consecutive years, including 2022.
With the losses of Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap and Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs could use their first-round pick to fortify the unit. Based on some projections, McDonald could be available at No. 31. If the team opts for a defensive player, he should be one of the priorities.
1. Jalin Hyatt, WR – Tennessee
One of the main losses the Chiefs suffered this offseason was the departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster. In 2022, he had 78 receptions for 933 yards, with only All-Pro Travis Kelce being more productive in those categories.
Smith-Schuster ended up joining the New England Patriots after spending just one year with the Chiefs. Although his time in Kansas City was short, he played an important role in the team’s Super Bowl-winning campaign.
Without him, the Chiefs should be after a new potential WR1. At No. 31, Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt could be an option.
In the 2022 season, the wide receiver caught 67 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. He finished in the top five in the nation for receiving yards, while also leading the SEC in both receiving yards and scores.
Hyatt was a crucial part of Tennessee’s surprising 2022 campaign. The team started the year unranked but managed to finish No. 6. For his performance, he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best wide receiver in the nation. He also earned First-Team All-SEC and All-American honors, with the latter being unanimous.
Notably, he averaged 18.9 yards per reception in 2022, the highest among players with at least 60 catches in FBS. With him, Mahomes could recreate what he did with Tyreek Hill in previous years.
All things considered, especially Smith-Schuster’s departure, Hyatt is a player the Chiefs should target with their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He not only addresses a team need but also brings talent and potential, which could help Kansas City remain competitive for years to come.