Chiefs Urged to Avoid First-Round Talent Who Resembles KC Pro Bowler

Dontari Poe

Getty A potential Chiefs 2023 draft target has been compared to Dontari Poe (pictured above in 2014).

As we enter NFL Draft season around the league, there are usually several prospect names that you hear linked to your franchise more than others. That doesn’t mean the Kansas City Chiefs will end up selecting players connected by reporters and analysts, but you do sometimes get a sense of which direction the team is leaning.

One incoming rookie mocked to the Chiefs more than once in round one of the 2023 draft has been Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith — a prospect experts are comparing to former KC first-round selection Dontari Poe. Not everyone is onboard with general manager Brett Veach spending the No. 31 overall pick on Smith, however.

USA Today Chiefs Wire media member Charles Goldman named the Michigan product as a draft target KC should “avoid” during an article on April 5.

Chiefs Analyst Explains Why KC Should Avoid DT Mazi Smith in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft

Goldman did explain why he would prefer that Kansas City steer clear of Smith.

He wrote: “The Chiefs need to invest long-term in the defensive tackle position, but Smith scares me a bit. From an athletic standpoint, Smith compares favorably to Dontari Poe. He had 10 fewer repetitions on the bench press (34 to Poe’s 44), but had better vertical (29.5) and broad jumps (107 inches). If the Chiefs selected him in the first round would be highly reminiscent of their selection of Poe too.”

“They’re both incredibly talented athletes, but the on-field production didn’t match,” Goldman reasoned. “That’s even more the case with Smith than it was with Poe, as he only recorded a half-sack in his three-year Michigan career. There’s also the fact that Smith caught a felony weapons charge earlier this month, which is another reason teams could be dissuaded.”

The lackluster production plus the off-the-field concerns were both enough to frighten Goldman, but one could also argue that defensive tackle isn’t a first-round need with Chris Jones on the roster. Sure, you need to pair the All-Pro game wrecker with a new youngster after the Khalen Saunders departure, but that player doesn’t have to come in round one.

As more of a one-tech, 4-3 nose tackle type like Poe, Smith did accumulate six tackles for a loss at Michigan. He profiles as a solid space-clogger up the gut, with 85 tackles over his final two collegiate seasons.

The Chiefs could also target wide receiver, edge rusher or offensive tackle at the position — among others. Of course, the Poe selection didn’t work out poorly in 2012. The retired nose tackle logged two Pro Bowl seasons over a five-year span in KC, with 13 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss.

Chiefs Should Avoid Travis Kelce Successor

Another position that there’s absolutely no reason to reach on is tight end. Yes, the Chiefs have proven that a TE mismatch is hard to guard against, but Travis Kelce doesn’t seem any closer to retiring and Noah Gray, Jody Fortson and Blake Bell offer plus depth behind him.

Goldman agreed, warning Veach not to target Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave.

“The tight end position is one of the most loaded groups in the 2023 NFL draft,” he began. “Musgrave has sometimes been touted as a first-round draft pick, but there might be more projection with the Oregon State tight end than with any other player in this draft class. Musgrave doesn’t have a lot of production during his college with just 47 catches for 633 yards and two scores across four seasons. A knee injury shortened his 2022 season with Oregon State and I find it hard to believe that teams would value him in the first round with the injury situation and the lack of college production.”