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Chiefs continue to look for players in unusual places

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two of the players recently signed by the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t play football in college. One is linebacker Efe Obada, whose first exposure to football came as a member of the London Warriors, a British team that plays in a local American football league.

The other is linebacker Tautvydas Kieras, a native of Lithuania who threw the discus at Mississippi State but didn’t play football.

It will be a minor miracle if either Obada or Kieras ever becomes a productive player for the Chiefs. The lack of football backgrounds compared to their competition will be difficult for either to overcome, particularly in the near term.

But it’s another example of general manager John Dorsey looking for players in unusual places and some of his earlier signings are paying off for the Chiefs.

In 2013, Dorsey and the Chiefs signed a college basketball player, Demetrius Harris, and converted him into a tight end. Harris had been a high school football star in Arkansas but had given up the sport in favor of basketball in college.

The Chiefs the next year drafted guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round. Duvernay-Tardif had played the 12-man Canadian game in college at McGill University, but the level of competition was inferior to what he would have faced at a major U.S. college. Duvernay-Tardif is also a medical student whose studies take him away from football at times.

The Chiefs have been rewarded in each case. Duvernay-Tardif became a starter last year. Harris is their No. 2 tight end and has been more productive in each of his three seasons in Kansas City.

Harris and Duvernay-Tardif arrived behind many of their teammates in terms of playing experience and understanding the necessary techniques. They were still more advanced than Obada and Kieras are now. Obada does have the advantage of having spent some of last season in camp with the Dallas Cowboys or on their practice squad.

Still, they were no-risk signings and worth a long look and the time it might take to develop their skills.