AFC West: Bradley McDougald

Chiefs rookie update: Defense

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
6:05
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Nico Johnson Peter Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Chiefs' Nico Johnson was making a hefty impact before suffering an ankle injury.
Earlier I posted some thoughts on the progress of the Chiefs offensive rookies and where I thought they fit in as the regular season begins. Here, I talk about the five defensive rookies:

  • Nico Johnson, fourth round, inside linebacker. Johnson was playing well and appeared on track to become a starter at some point this season. He showed some nice instinct and the ability to shed blocks and make tackles in the running game. Then he suffered a high ankle sprain. He hasn’t played or practiced since. His shouldn’t be an extended absence but any practice time missed by a rookie is a lot of time. At this point, it’s reasonable to count on Johnson for little more than special-teams help for the first half of the season. Longer term, he should have a spot as the starter at the inside position next to Derrick Johnson.
  • Mike Catapano, defensive end, seventh round. Catapano was moved recently back to his more natural position as a defensive end. The Chiefs had played him at linebacker since drafting him.Catapano is undersized at 270 pounds so his main contributions as a rookie should come on special teams. But the Chiefs aren’t deep on the defensive line, so an injury could force him into the playing rotation. Catapano has showed some pass-rush skills. He was with the first team early this week as a pass-rusher in the nickel defense in place of Allen Bailey, who missed practice because of the death of his father.
  • Bradley McDougald, safety, undrafted. McDougald won his roster spot, beating out veteran Tysyn Hartman, with solid all-around play. Hartman may have been better against the run but McDougald was better in pass coverage. As the fifth safety, he won’t play on defense except in case of injuries ahead of him.McDougald’s roster spot will be in jeopardy when the Chiefs activate Sanders Commings off injured reserve. A fifth-round draft pick, Commings was playing a lot in the nickel defense during offseason practice. He broke his collarbone in the first practice at training camp and hasn’t played or practiced since. He was placed on IR Tuesday.
  • Josh Martin, undrafted, linebacker. Martin came to the Chiefs as the ultimate long shot. He played in college at an Ivy League school, Columbia, and plays a position inhabited in Kansas City by three Pro Bowl players. But Martin made an impact in training camp. He displayed nice instincts in the running game and pass-rush skills, as well. He showed enough of both the Chiefs decided to keep him on their active roster as a developmental player.Martin probably won’t play as a rookie unless it’s on special teams. But he’s already pulled the ultimate upset by making it this far.
  • Marcus Cooper, cornerback, waivers from San Francisco. Cooper was drafted by the 49ers this year in the seventh round but was released over the weekend. Cooper was mostly a bystander during his only practice so far with the Chiefs after arriving on Sunday night. But he will get a look to be the fourth cornerback. The Chiefs went through several candidates unsuccessfully for that fourth cornerback spot and their failure to find one was a big reason they claimed Cooper.

Ranking the AFC West UFAs

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
8:00
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I asked Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. to rank the top 10 undrafted free agent signings in the AFC West this week. This is what Muench had to say:

1. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray, Kansas City

Whether or not Bray can improve the way he prepares and puts in the necessary work to realize his considerable potential remains to be seen. There is no question he has the frame, arm strength and accuracy to develop into an NFL starter.

2. Georgia NT Kwame Geathers, San Diego

At 6-foot-5 and 342 pounds, Geathers is a mountain of a man with the size and lower-body strength to hold his ground against double teams and clog up the middle when he keeps his pads down. However, he struggles to stay low, and doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher, either.

3. Louisville DB Adrian Bushell, Oakland

Bushell bounced around a little bit in college, enrolling at Florida in 2009, transferring to a community college in 2010 and then to Louisville in 2011. He doesn’t have great burst, he’s on the smaller side and he’s not a playmaker, but is fluid and anticipates breaks well. He could also push for time as a kickoff-return man.

4. Florida DE/OLB Lerentee McCray, Denver

McCray doesn’t show great top-end speed on tape and his lengthy injury history raises a red flag. His durability is the bigger issue because he has the skill set to contribute as a role player if he can stay healthy. He is an effective hand fighter whether he’s rushing the passer or defending the run, and he has an above-average motor.

5. Duke WR Conner Vernon, Oakland

Vernon isn’t much of a big-play threat. He doesn’t have enough speed to stretch the field or run away from pursuit after the catch. The strength of his game is his willingness to do the dirty work over the middle. He doesn’t take his eyes off the ball to locate defenders and he is aggressive fighting for 50-50 balls in traffic.

6. Boston College OT John Wetzel, Oakland

Wetzel isn’t as naturally gifted or as fundamentally sound as some of the other offensive linemen that Boston College has produced over the years. He does have the frame, length and awareness to be an effective swing tackle who can provide depth on the right and left side.

7. Kansas S Bradley McDougald, Kansas City

McDougald is a jack of all trades who played wide receiver and safety in addition to returning kicks his first two seasons at Kansas. It should come as little surprise that he fields the ball well for a safety but his marginal top-end speed is an issue. He isn’t fast enough to match up with slot receivers in man coverage and shows just adequate range covering the deep half of the field.

8. New Mexico TE Lucas Reed, Denver

Reed, the younger brother of Houston OLB Brooks Reed, isn’t a physical player. He needs to develop an edge as a run-blocker and improve his ability to make plays in traffic over the middle. On the other hand, he’s fast enough to work the seam and has a big catching radius. He has 10.5-inch hands, 35.5-inch arms and a 37-inch vertical.

9. Virginia Tech OT Nick Becton, San Diego

A one-year starter, Becton doesn’t have great foot speed and needs to learn to sink his hips both as a run-blocker and in pass protection. He is an intriguing addition because he has the frame, length and enough of a mean streak to develop into an effective backup who can provide depth at right tackle and guard.

10. Youngstown State OG Lamar Mady, Oakland

There are concerns about Mady’s ability to make the jump to the NFL. He is a small-school prospect who doesn’t have the frame to carry a lot of weight and doesn’t move well laterally. He’s still worth giving a shot in training camp because he’s a wide body who can play center and guard.

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