2023 Chiefs NFL draft prospects: Group 18
With the 2022 college football season now behind us, we’ll soon turn our attention to all-star games, the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine and the pro day circuit. The 2023 Senior Bowl recently revealed its roster of players and we’re looking at four that could be of interest to the Chiefs.
Our annual draft prospects series returns for the sixth consecutive year. We’ve identified over 200 college prospects to keep an eye on ahead of the 2023 NFL draft, all of whom might be potential fits with the Kansas City Chiefs. Last season’s prospect list included several of the Chiefs’ 2022 NFL draft picks including George Karlaftis, Skyy Moore and Bryan Cook. Who will be next?
Our eighteenth group of prospects includes a freakish defensive lineman from a small school, a left tackle from a high-volume passing offense, a gadget receiver from Andy Reid’s alma mater and one of the best athletes at the linebacker position in the entire draft class.
Bowling Green DL Karl Brooks
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Listed at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, you won’t find another big man that moves the way that Karl Brooks does. He’s incredibly nimble, fluid, quick and explosive for his size, boasting the versatility to play bother edge rusher and interior defensive line.
Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade (93.2) of any edge rusher in the FBS this past season. He produced 50 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four passes batted in 13 games played in 2022, setting or matching career-high marks in every category.
With Frank Clark potentially heading for a salary-cap-related release and Carlos Dunlap an unrestricted free agent, the Chiefs will need to reinforce their edge rusher depth this offseason. Brooks is a player that might rise up draft boards with a strong Senior Bowl and pre-draft testing, but his versatility should put him squarely on Kansas City’s radar.
UNC LT Asim Richards
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UNC quarterback Drake Maye took college football by storm this season and Richards was tasked with protecting his blindside. In 666 pass-blocking snaps this season, Richards allowed just three sacks and 18 other pressures according to Pro Football Focus. Richards earned Third-Team All-ACC honors this season after making 14 starts.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Richards has good size for the NFL game. He’ll need to continue working on his body, adding good weight and strength in an NFL weight program. His technique is quite good with a sturdy base, quick feet, along with good punch and hand usage.
Kansas City obviously needs upgrades at offensive tackle, either on the left or right side. Pursuing a prospect who could rise up draft boards in the pre-draft process could be a solution to the team’s projected draft position.
BYU WR Puka Nacua
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A favorite target of QB Jaren Hall during the past two seasons, Nacua has been an exciting weapon for the BYU offense. In nine games played this season, Nacua recorded 834 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns (five receiving TDs and five rushing TDs) on 73 total touches. Listed at 6-1 and 210 pounds, Nacua is hard to bring down after the catch, boasting a whopping 356 yards after the catch in 2022.
Age is always a concern with players coming out of BYU, but Nacua breaks the mold. He’s on the younger side and will be just 22 years old as a rookie in the NFL in 2023.
If the Chiefs happen to lose a player like Mecole Hardman — who thrives in the red zone on manufactured touches and gadget-type plays — Nacua is a player who should be atop their list of targets. I was a big fan of his older brother Kai Nacua when he was coming out of college, but Puka has a chance to be a big-time NFL contributor.
Washington State LB Daiyan Henley
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A transfer to Washington State out of Nevada, Henley was a defensive star for the Cougars in his only season with the team. He finished 2022 with 106 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and one pass defended. The season prior at Nevada was equally productive with 94 total tackles, two tackles for loss, four interceptions, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
If the Chiefs want to keep up their trend of adding speed and athleticism at the linebacker position, Henley is the perfect target. He’s a bit undersized at 6-1 and 220 pounds and he’s only played linebacker since the 2020 season, but he’s built for the modern game. He’s an impressive athlete and his ability to close is up there with the best in this class. He’s incredibly instinctive in the passing game and can match up with receivers, running backs and tight ends in man coverage, which will give any team that drafts him a lot of flexibility in their personnel groupings.