football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

What Mike Hughes Trade Means For Chiefs

  • The Draft Network
  • May 15, 2021
  • Share

A May trade is a rather rare thing in the NFL, but for the first month of dead content on the NFL calendar, it’s a welcome sight. The Vikings and the Chiefs swapped late-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft (only 350-ish days away!) in the process of sending 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes from Minnesota to Kansas City. Hughes has played three seasons and seen all three end on injured reserve: in 2018, he tore his ACL; in 2019, he sustained a late-season neck injury; and the neck injury lingered into 2020, ending his season again. With the recent corner additions to Minnesota in the form of Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander, as well as the emergence of Cameron Dantzler down the stretch last season, Hughes was going to enter Minnesota as the CB4 on the roster, at best.

Hughes has a good angle on playing time in Kansas City, should he stay healthy. While 2020 fourth-rounder L’Jarius Sneed looks like a gem as a safety-to-corner convert, the Chiefs elected not to re-sign Bashaud Breeland, leaving middling starter Charvarius Ward as the opposite corner across from Sneed. Hughes can fight for that starting outside job, as the majority of his career snaps have come as an outside corner—but with more than 200 career snaps in the slot, he also works as a CB3. 

Of course, Hughes’ injury history is tough to rely on for 17 games, but in general, that’s a nice addition. Good business after the draft, especially when you weren’t able to add a potential starting corner with your early selections. You needed to improve the interior offensive line, and Creed Humphrey was there; your linebacking room was worse than the corner room, so Nick Bolton was a necessary addition as well. If you couldn’t solve the problem in the draft, snagging a look at Hughes gives you an improvement at the position on the cheap.

All this to say: the Chiefs are probably gonna sign a defensive end here soon.

How could they not? The Chiefs were 12th in pressure rate last season, which is a fine number—but they were also ninth in blitz rate. Beyond star defensive tackle Chris Jones, the Chiefs had few winners along the defensive line last season. Jones’ 8.3 Pass Rush Productivity, as measured by PFF, was third among all defensive tackles, and by far the best number on the Chiefs’ roster. The next closest was Alex Okafor, whose 6.8 number was 33rd among defensive ends—he’s still a free agent. Behind him was all $19.3M of Frank Clark, who has struggled during his Kansas City tenure, and delivered a 5.7 PRP, good for 55th among ends just last season.

Beyond Clark, the pass rush is just bad in Kansas City—and for as much as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo wants to send extra rushers to generate pressure, you still need at least one guy who can win on the outside arc. That guy was supposed to be Clark; it hasn’t been—and it probably isn’t anyone else on the roster, either. Early picks in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks are both no longer on the roster; depth is afforded by strong run defender Mike Danna and fourth-round rookie Joshua Kaindoh. Just as general manager Brett Veach did with Hughes yesterday, he took a swing on an ex-early draft pick: namely Taco Charlton, the 2017 first-rounder who flamed out in Dallas and offered some early-down reps last season before landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He’s back this season, but he hasn’t been that guy in his career.

The investments in guys like Speaks, Kpassagnon, and Clark make it clear that the Chiefs want that winner off the edge, and also gesture to their particular mold at the position. But they haven’t hit, and as they continue milking the current roster for Super Bowl berths, the urgency remains to add impact players across the roster.

So an EDGE is coming. Who might it be? They met with Melvin Ingram in the offseason, but didn’t get a deal done; they could return Justin Houston, left unsigned by the Colts. Both are stand-up outside rushers—not necessarily the mold. To that point, you could target an Olivier Vernon or a Ryan Kerrigan. All of these options are on the wrong side of 30, but they’re all dangerous players who could not only offer a plus starter opposite Clark, they may take his role as the primary pass-rusher outright.

More free agents are available in this later stage of the process than we usually see, as COVID-19 limitations on cap space left a middle tier of veteran free agents largely unsigned. Such availability is what allowed a team like the Colts to leave their starting left tackle job untouched until after the draft, when Eric Fisher was still available for the signing. Such will likely be the approach of the Chiefs, who had more needs than they had draft picks to handle on the defensive side of the ball, and are clearly in the process of filling out those final holes with the best stop-gap options left on the market.

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network