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Kansas City Chiefs' draft needs: Brandin Cooks would add burst

Roster weaknesses: Every team has them, and the draft is often the best way to address them. With the 2014 NFL Draft fast approaching, NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah will be taking an up-close look at the main areas of weakness -- and the prospects who could fix them -- for all 32 squads in the league. Be sure to catch "Path to the Draft" on NFL Network at 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more in-depth analysis.

The Kansas City Chiefs underwent an amazing turnaround under Andy Reid last season. Consider that one year ago, they had the first overall selection in the draft; this year, they'll be picking at No. 23 overall after finishing 2013 with an 11-5 record and earning a playoff berth. And they didn't get much help from No. 1 pick Eric Fisher, either -- meaning Reid and his staff deserve a ton of credit.



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For Kansas City's offense to take the next step, it needs to become more explosive, and some weak spots on the interior of the offensive line must be propped up. Finally, while the Chiefs' defense boasts one of the best front sevens around, the quality of the secondary must be improved.

Here are four positions of need for Kansas City -- and some prospects who could fill them.

1) Wide receiver

Dwayne Bowe had an outstanding game against the Indianapolis Colts in last year's playoffs, catching eight passes for 150 yards and one score. Still, I don't think the eighth-year pro is a truly reliable No. 1 wide receiver. In the draft, Reid will be looking for a field-stretching vertical threat, which is something the Chiefs don't currently have on their roster (Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins can't be counted upon at this point in their respective careers).

Several quality upgrades will likely be available when the Chiefs pick at No. 23 overall. Two players to keep an eye on are USC's Marqise Lee and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks. If both pass-catchers are on the board, I think the Chiefs will lean toward Cooks, because of his 4.3-second speed. That said, Lee would be more than just a consolation prize.

2) Offensive guard

With Jon Asamoah departing for the Atlanta Falcons via free agency, the Chiefs will look to boost the interior of their offensive line. I don't think they'll do this at No. 23, however, and they don't currently have a second-round pick, meaning they'll probably address the position in the third or fourth round. Nebraska's Spencer Long plays with a nasty temperament and has the size (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) and ability to start early on in his NFL career. Kadeem Edwards from Tennessee State is a bit smaller than Long (6-4, 313), but he has as much upside as any interior offensive lineman in the 2014 class.

3) Safety

The Chiefs' secondary broke down in the second half of last year's playoff loss to the Colts; Kansas City surrendered 314 yards through the air and three passing touchdowns in the final 30 minutes. I think the Chiefs will prioritize an upgrade at safety over corner, but they'll look to pump up both spots in the draft.

Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will probably be long gone by the time the Chiefs are on the clock, but there's an outside chance Louisville's Calvin Pryor will still be on the board. The former Cardinal would pair nicely with All-Pro Eric Berry, giving Kansas City two very athletic and physical safeties. In the third or fourth round, the Chiefs could opt for Dezmen Southward. The speedy defender from Wisconsin has the versatility to line up over a receiver or play back in coverage.

4) Cornerback

Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers threw a combined 12 touchdown passes (and just three interceptions) in four games versus the Chiefs last year. If Kansas City wants to improve upon last season's 0-4 record against the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers, the team will need to get better at cornerback.

Second-year pro Marcus Cooper had a couple of solid games early in his rookie season, but quarterbacks picked on him repeatedly in the second half. Ohio State's Bradley Roby would be an outstanding fit in the Chiefs' defense, though we should note that he was recently involved in an off-field incident. Roby has the ability to cover both slot and perimeter receivers, and he's one of the better tackling corners in the draft.

Projections

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So what will the Chiefs do with their first-round pick (No. 23 overall)? Here's what NFL Media's analysts see happening, according to their mock draft projections (click here for full mock drafts):

Daniel Jeremiah: Brandin Cooks
Bucky Brooks: Odell Beckham
Charles Davis: Brandin Cooks
Matt Smith: Ra'Shede Hageman
Chase Goodbread: Odell Beckham

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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