Friday, May 16, 2014
Don't expect much from Dee Ford as rookie
By Adam Teicher
The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Auburn outside linebacker Dee Ford in the first round with the plan that he would be a situational pass-rusher as a rookie along with the starters at his position, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
That's the plan, anyway, and maybe it will work. It's a better idea not to count on a lot from Ford, at least not next season.
Outside linebacking pass-rushers tend to struggle as rookies. Pro Football Focus last year ranked the pass-rush productivity of all 3-4 outside linebacking pass-rushers using a formula that includes sacks and quarterback pressures. Among the 41 outside linebackers who rushed on at least 25 percent of their opponent's passes, three rookie first-round draft picks were among the bottom eight.
This group includes Cleveland's Barkevious Mingo, Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones and Indianapolis' Bjoern Werner. Together, they totaled nine sacks.
Houston and Hali were the fifth and sixth most-productive pass-rushers among 3-4 outside linebackers, by the way.
All players and situations are different, and maybe Ford will be one of those rookies who thrive as a pass rusher. Maybe he will benefit from having strong pass-rushers like Hali, Houston and Dontari Poe on his side.
But Ford doesn't have history, at least that of the recent variety, on his side. For that reason, I've picked slot receiver/kick returner De'Anthony Thomas as the Chiefs' rookie most likely to have an immediate impact.