Chiefs Connected to EDGE With Rare ‘Explosiveness & Power’

Boye Mafe

Getty Minnesota edge rusher Boye Mafe runs drills at the 2022 NFL combine.

The NFL draft is now 11 days away and the Kansas City Chiefs are tied for the most total picks with the Jacksonville Jaguars — an unusual occurrence for KC in recent years.

They also have two first-round picks to work with at Nos. 29 and 30, and it’ll be interesting to see how general manager Brett Veach decides to allocate these newfound resources. One good bet is that KC will target an edge rusher.

This could be the deepest draft class of pass rushers in the last decade and the Chiefs could use some help opposite Frank Clark — especially if Chris Jones moves back inside. One intriguing option is an ascending talent out of Minnesota.

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Mafe Mocked to Chiefs

During a recent mock draft from the NFL website and expert Lance Zierlein, the analyst sent edge rusher Boye Mafe to the Chiefs at No. 30 overall. This came after he traded up for a wide receiver from pick No. 29 to 23.

Zierlein reasoned:

With receiver out of the way, the Chiefs turn to bolstering the edge. Mafe’s explosiveness and power are exciting traits for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to mold.

That’s the perfect description of Mafe, a raw talent with a very high ceiling. The Minnesota alum increased his production every season he was there, with seven sacks and 10 tackles for a loss his senior campaign.

During his official scouting report, Zierlein noted that “Mafe’s evaluation requires the evaluator to focus more closely on the flashes than just the play-to-play action.”

He continued: “His combination of rare explosive measurables with average fundamentals could make for a perfect storm of rapid development once he gets focused skill work at the pro level. His footwork is average and he lacks desired instincts as a rusher, but pairing efficient handwork with twitchy upper-body power could turn him into a productive rush bully. He has the traits and toughness to develop into an above-average starter as a 4-3 base end.”

The Chiefs would still need to improve in the secondary but if they came away with Olave and Mafe, that would make for an impressive day one haul.

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Downsides of Mafe

Kansas City had a work-in-progress on the EDGE in 2021 — albeit a lower graded one by a good margin — in Joshua Kaindoh. So far, it has not worked out at the NFL level.

Fans shouldn’t be dissuaded from Mafe because of this, but are there some flaws in his game worth considering?

Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network called him “more of a developmental player than a plug-and-play starter.” That raises the question of whether or not the Chiefs will target a prospect who can best help in 2022, or draft based on maximum potential.

“Mafe has bright flashes of nuance at times but the consistency is where his NFL team is going to require patience from him as he continues to grow a better feel for the game,” Crabbs explained, “particularly in deconstructing blocks and being a persistent threat as an outside pass rusher.”

There was a similar outlook from the draft scout in the run game. “Mafe can get glued onto blocks far too easily and leverage issues, hand placement, separation skills, and feel of blocks are all subject to improvement,” Crabbs wrote.

Having said all that, this is an athletic high-motor prospect who has the potential to be a star. Mafe has gotten better and better throughout his career and he’s only 23 years old. He seems to have versatility, flexibility and football intelligence in his repertoire.

In another draft class, Crabbs admitted that Mafe would probably be a coveted commodity but he projects to be a late-first or early-second in 2022. Zierlein compared him to Green Bay Packers EDGE Rashan Gary, who totaled 9.5 sacks in year three after seeing gradual improvement over his first two NFL campaigns — 2.0 and 5.0 sacks, respectively.

It would not be shocking if Mafe followed a similar trajectory at the pro level.


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