Kansas City Chiefs: 2014 NFL draft

Nobody could catch De'Anthony Thomas from behind with the ball in his hand when he played at Oregon. He's not planning for it to happen in the NFL, either.

"Not at all," said Thomas, the fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. "Once I get out of the gates, I feel like I'm going to score that touchdown."

[+] EnlargeThomas
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsThe Chiefs selected Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas with the 124th overall pick in the fourth round.
Thomas is fast enough to back up that claim. He is world-class fast and for that reason, Thomas could wind up having the biggest immediate impact among any of the six players the Chiefs drafted this year.

The Chiefs would be smart to unleash Thomas immediately as their kickoff and punt-return specialist. He returned four kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns in his three seasons at Oregon. He'll be coached on special teams by Dave Toub, who has had a nice touch working with skilled return specialists before.

"Let's don't underestimate what (Toub has) been able to do in his career with unique talents at returner," Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard said. "He did it in Chicago, I was with him. I watched him take four guys and all were very good players and then he came in here and what he did with Dexter McCluster and our kickoff returners. So we've got some unique staff here to take advantage of his unique skill set."

On offense, Thomas played a lot of running back at Oregon. The Chiefs' backfield is already crowded with Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, so he may not get much work there in Kansas City.

But the Chiefs are looking for a slot receiver to replace McCluster and Thomas immediately becomes the most intriguing candidate for that job. At 5-9 and 174, he is of similar size to McCluster. His skills are similar as well, though Thomas is faster.

"He offers a lot of the same traits in terms of being both a very good receiver out of the backfield and as a runner," said Trey Koziol, the Chiefs' west coast scout. "I think you see similar traits in the open field, guys who can make people miss, guys who are a threat to take it to the house.

"I think when you've got a guy that's got kind of a Swiss Army Knifetype versatility, you can move him all over the place. Just look for the best mismatch. I'll leave that up to coach and the offensive staff. But from the scouting perspective, I think that he has all the physical tools you could look for in the receiving game as well. He's a guy that catches the ball very, very well for them there and has had a lot of production in the pass game for Oregon."

Chiefs coaches and officials said many of the same things over the years about McCluster. Though McCluster had decent numbers in terms of catches and yards, he delivered few big plays on offense.

While the speed and ability are there for Thomas, the Chiefs need to find a way to get more from him. If the Chiefs can just get from Thomas what they got from McCluster, he is worth the pick. And if they can get Thomas to achieve his full potential, he is worth so much more.
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't select quarterback Aaron Murray of Georgia in the fifth round of the NFL draft because they fear losing starter Alex Smith to free agency next year. The sides still have 10 months left to reach a deal and if Smith winds up hitting the free-agent market his successor is probably going to be someone else and not Murray.

That doesn't make the drafting of Murray, the first of a quarterback by the Chiefs with John Dorsey as their general manager and Andy Reid as their coach, any less intriguing. That Murray doesn't have classic size (the Chiefs list him at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds) and a huge arm suggests Dorsey and Reid believe Murray can succeed in the NFL without those qualities.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/Mike StewartFor Chiefs GM John Dorsey, there's one trait about former Georgia QB Aaron Murray that stands out. "He's a winner," Dorsey said.
Dorsey and Reid have a history of drafting and developing quarterbacks in previous jobs, Dorsey with the Green Bay Packers and Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles. When they like a quarterback, it's probably wise to listen. That alone makes Murray worth a fifth-round draft pick.

“He’s a winner," Dorsey said. "He’s been a winner at every stage that he’s played between high school and college. [He’s] ultracompetitive and smart. What I like about him is when there are big drives to be made late in the game, this guy made those drives. He didn’t always win them, but he made those big drives at the end when it really counted. If you want to put some statistics in there, he’s got multiple records in the SEC, which is as good a conference as there is in today’s football. He performed at a very high level.”

If winning was all the Chiefs wanted from their quarterback, they would have drafted Alabama's AJ McCarron instead. McCarron was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals the pick after Murray.

Murray has a little more to him.

“His accuracy is the No. 1 thing,'' Chiefs assistant scouting director Dom Green said. "I want to say he’s [completed] 67 percent on all of his throws throughout his whole career.’’

Murray actually completed slightly better than 62 percent of his passes at Georgia. But Murray's ball finds its target far more frequently than it does for a lot of quarterbacks of his size.

“Most of the shorter quarterbacks have a lot of batted balls and that type of thing but I didn’t see that with Aaron," Green said. "He did a nice job hitting the lanes and getting the ball to receivers."

In explaining the reasons for that, Murray already sounded like an NFL veteran.

“All quarterbacks, you have to be able to move around the pocket, you have to be able to find those throwing lanes," Murray said. "It’s just working drills, working footwork, being able to stay active in the pocket. It’s also knowing where you need to go [with the ball]. When you know where you need to go as a quarterback based on the coverage and what the defense is giving you, you will put your body in position to make an accurate throw and find those open receivers."

Murray tore his ACL late last season and is still in the rehab stage of his recovery. He said he's been cleared for full participation in two weeks when the Chiefs start offseason practice with a three-day rookie camp. Dorsey is more cautious and said it may not be until training camp until Murray is fully unleashed.

Either way, this is a player worth watching. The Chiefs and Murray could be the right mix, something even the rookie quarterback already understands.

“It’s a great fit," Murray said. "I’m not complaining one bit. It’s an incredible fit. They do a heck of a job preparing quarterbacks."
For those with ESPN Insider access, draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has handed out his annual post-draft grades to the 32 teamsInsider. The Chiefs received a "B-minus," which I'm thinking is a fair grade this soon after the draft.

If the first-round selection, outside linebacker Dee Ford, doesn't develop into a productive pass-rusher, he won't be a good pick for the Chiefs. But I like the Chiefs' thinking here and Kiper agrees. The selection of Ford gives the Chiefs some insurance for the aging and expensive Tamba Hali and for Justin Houston, who also will be expensive when his contract runs out at the end of next season. In the meantime, Ford also can provide some value.

The Chiefs' next three picks were cornerback Phillip Gaines (third round), slot receiver/kick returner De'Anthony Thomas (fourth) and quarterback Aaron Murray (fifth). They all play impact positions and if the Chiefs hit on even two of them, this should be a good draft. Kiper points out that the Chiefs' final pick of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round could wind up as a good one. Kiper believes Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman, could be a sleeper.

The trouble with assessing a draft so quickly afterward is that higher grades are usually awarded to teams that selected players at positions of immediate need. Not counting Thomas, the Chiefs didn't draft a wide receiver and right now that looks like a mistake. But they obviously didn't like any receivers available at their turns to pick and it's a mistake to grade them down for not selecting someone they didn't like or feel comfortable with.

We'll know better in a couple of years whether this six-player haul for the Chiefs was good, bad or somewhere in the middle. For now, a B-minus looks about right.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A wrap-up of the Kansas City Chiefs' draft. Click here for a full list of Chiefs draftees.

[+] EnlargeDe'Anthony Thomas
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriThe addition of De'Anthony Thomas should help out the Chiefs offense, as well as special teams.
Best move: Though they had only six picks, the Chiefs covered a lot of ground. They selected a pass-rusher, a cornerback, a combination slot receiver/running back/kick returner, a quarterback and two developmental offensive linemen. Not all were immediate needs, but the potential is there for the Chiefs to get a lot from this class. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, a fourth-round pick, might represent the best value. The Chiefs will plug him into the spots on offense and special teams vacated by the free-agent departure of Dexter McCluster. Thomas has world-class speed and will be given opportunities to play as a slot receiver and kick-return specialist.

Riskiest move: Despite having one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL last season, the Chiefs added nobody at the position, Thomas excepted. The Chiefs will search for help in free agency before they get to training camp in late July, but they might not be able to find a receiver who gives them more than what they already have on the roster. The Chiefs might come to regret passing on the chance to get USC receiver Marqise Lee in the first round or Mississippi's Donte Moncrief in the third. Thomas could help as a slot receiver, but on the outside, the Chiefs need improvement from a group that includes Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins.

Most surprising move: The selection of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the fifth round qualifies, given the Chiefs already gave up their second-round choice for a quarterback, starter Alex Smith, in last year's trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs also appeared set at quarterback with Smith, veteran backup Chase Daniel and developmental prospect Tyler Bray. But the Chiefs couldn't resist Murray, whose senior season was ended early by a torn ACL. At about 6-foot and 200 pounds, Murray doesn't have classic size for an NFL quarterback or a huge arm, but the Chiefs think he has the necessary skills to thrive in coach Andy Reid's offense. Murray does a nice job of finding available passing lanes despite his size. He has also been an accurate passer. Murray says he has been cleared to practice when the Chiefs get on the field later this month. That sets up an interesting battle for available roster spots at quarterback. Bray is the most likely candidate to be crowded off the roster, but if the Chiefs believe he or Murray is advanced enough to be their backup, a trade market could develop for Daniel.

File it away: First-round outside linebacker Dee Ford of Auburn will become the second-best pass-rusher to emerge from this year's draft behind only Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick. The Chiefs have Pro Bowlers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to start at Ford's position, so he has time to develop his skills in pass coverage and against the run. He can focus immediately on his pass-rush skills, and the Chiefs need to find ways to get all three players on the field at the same time. Kansas City's pass rush was on pace at midseason to set an NFL record for sacks. It tailed off badly the second half of the season, but Ford's presence should help revive their pass rush.
Murray
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quarterback Aaron Murray tore his ACL in a game last November in his final season at the University of Georgia. But Murray, drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round Saturday, said he has already been cleared to practice.

"I'm ready to go right now," Murray said. "I'm fully doing everything when it comes to running, jumping, all my dropbacks, all my rollouts right and left. So there's really absolutely no restrictions right now. The doctors have given me the green light to go out there and do everything. I'm excited to get out there and practice next week.

"I feel healthy. I feel great. There's no hesitation or second thought when I'm running or cutting. It's full speed ahead."

Draft picks can start participation in the Chiefs' offseason program on Monday. Formal practice begins May 24 with opening of a three-day rookie camp.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Georgia's Aaron Murray in the fifth round today, giving them a most interesting mix at quarterback. Behind starter Alex Smith, the Chiefs have veteran backup Chase Daniel, developmental prospect Tyler Bray and now Murray.

Murray tore his ACL last year in November, but said he is ready for full participation in practice.

Eventually the Chiefs have to make a decision on which quarterbacks to keep and which one to part with. But they didn't draft Murray to immediately release him. Though at 6-foot and 200 pounds he doesn't have the classic size for a quarterback, they obviously like his skills and the way he fits into Andy Reid's offense.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas with the No. 24 pick in the fourth round Saturday.

Thomas has electrifying ability and now it's up to the Chiefs to get it out of him. He is world-class fast, though he inexplicably ran a 4.5 40 at the combine in February. He is of similar size and has similar skills to the Dexter McCluster, who recently departed as a free agent to sign with the Tennessee Titans.

Though he is listed as a running back, the Chiefs may use Thomas in a variety of roles and he could spend most of his time as a slot receiver. Look for Andy Reid to have some fun figuring out ways to utilize Thomas. Thomas is also one of the best return specialists available in this year's draft. Look for him to claim the vacant punt returner's job left by McCluster's departure as well as become the main kickoff returner.
videoKANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The pick: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice

My take: The Chiefs needed some insurance at cornerback. Starter Brandon Flowers struggled at times last season and the play of Marcus Cooper as the third cornerback fell off greatly the second half of last season, so Gaines was a need pick. Gaines tested positive for marijuana and was suspended for the season opener last season against Texas A&M.

Another defensive pick: The selection of Gaines makes the Chiefs 2-for-2 in drafting defensive players. That’s not surprising given the way the Chiefs collapsed defensively over the second half of last season. The Chiefs led 38-10 in the third quarter of last season’s playoff game against Indianapolis but eventually lost 45-44.

What’s next: The Chiefs still need to address their shortcomings at wide receiver and kick returner. They had one of the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL last season and lost to free agency slot receiver Dexter McCluster, who doubled as a punt-return specialist. The Chiefs could also use some depth on the offensive line.

Live draft blog: Chiefs, Rds. 2-3

May, 9, 2014
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Join ESPN.com Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher as he gives you all the latest news from team headquarters during the 2014 NFL draft.

 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs didn't get the wide receiver they needed in the first round, and that's OK. If outside linebacker Dee Ford becomes the player the Chiefs think he will, the Chiefs did well for themselves in the opening round.

That said, it's time for the Chiefs to get on with their most pressing need. They won't have a second-round draft pick tonight, having sent it to the San Francisco 49ers in last year's trade that brought quarterback Alex Smith. So they need to look closely at receivers who will be available when they pick in the third round, the 87th overall pick.

At that pick, the Chiefs probably won't find the eventual successor to Dwayne Bowe. But they could wind up with Dexter McCluster's successor as a slot receiver, say, Robert Herron of Wyoming, for instance.

Here is what general manager John Dorsey said at the end of the first round Thursday night regarding the Chiefs, where they are at wide receiver, and what the draft might hold for them there.

"I think we’re going to be very competitive at that position," Dorsey said. "We’ve said all along the wide receiver position has extended depth, not only in the first round but the second (and) third. What you’ll see in the second round is a lot of receivers start to peel off, but in each round there are still other receivers. If everything works out, maybe that guy you’ve identified falls to you."
Auburn's Dee Ford, the first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, appears a little undersized for an outside linebacker in the 3-4 system. Ford is slightly over 6-foot-2 and weighed in at the scouting combine in February at 252 pounds. That's smaller than either of Kansas City's two starting outside linebackers, Tamba Hali (6-3, 275) and Justin Houston (6-3, 258).

That obviously didn't bother the Chiefs.

“I’m not sure how much weight he really needs to add,'' coach Andy Reid said. "I think he’s pretty good just the way he is. Normally you see these guys, especially in those positions, over the first two or three years, put on about 10 pounds. I’m not necessarily saying he needs to do that . . . 252 pounds, that’s a pretty healthy outside linebacker. He’s good against the run and the pass.

"The thing that I think is one of his strengths is the way he uses his arms and his hands. He sets those nice and tight. He’s got a great stab move, which is important for a pass rusher. He needs to transfer it over to this level, as all the rookies do. He’s got work ahead of him to do that.''

Ford missed much of the 2011 season at Auburn after having back surgery. He missed two games early last season with a sprained knee but the Chiefs were also confident in his medicals.

“We checked with [trainer Rick Burkholder] and our docs and they felt good about it,'' Reid said. "He had a pretty good season this past year, so we feel pretty good about that.”
Joining a team with two Pro Bowlers at his position, outside linebacker Dee Ford showed the proper deference to the Kansas City Chiefs and his new teammates. That includes linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, even if he couldn't remember Houston's name.

Ford
"I love edge rushers,'' Ford said after he was picked by the Chiefs in the first round. "I'm a big fan of Tamba Hali. I'm definitely a big fan of his and the one on the other side.''

Otherwise, Ford, who had 10.5 sacks last season at Auburn, said all the right things. He's making the transition from a college defensive end, so he won't be an immediate starter.

But the situation has the potential to get messy. He could be the eventual replacement for Hali, who turns 31 in November and has a contract the Chiefs may later decide is too expensive, or Houston, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

"My No. 1 goal is to be a sponge and be a great teammate,'' Ford said. "I’m not concerned with the hype. I’m concerned with things that I can control, which is coming into this organization and being a great teammate. I really hope I don’t sound generic or sound like I’m just trying to say the right things. I really mean that. I’m going to humble myself, learn from these vets and man, we’re going to do some things.

"I can’t measure what I’m going to do from what [Hali] did. He’s a dynamic pass-rusher, he’s so beyond me. I need to learn. That’s my No. 1 goal, be a teammate and learn.”

While Ford is learning to play linebacker, the Chiefs will experiment with pass-rush combinations that include all three of their edge pass-rushers. Ford, though, said he is prepared to play on more than just passing downs. He is slightly taller than 6-foot-2 and weighed 252 pounds at the combine in February. That's smaller than either Hali or Houston, so Ford will need to prove he can hold up against the run.

"I’m not perfect in my pass rush or my run game,'' he said. "But let’s be honest, I played in the SEC and I was a starter for two years [and] you have to stop the run. You have to stop the run. And I was a starter. I was not a liability to my defense. I think sometimes when your specialty is pass rush, the natural thing to do is question their ability to stop the run because we’re getting off the ball. And my height, the height issue and all of that, I can stop the run.''
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs sent outside linebackers and pass-rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to the Pro Bowl last season, but one sentence from coach Andy Reid explained why they drafted Auburn’s Dee Ford in the first round Thursday night.

“You can’t have enough good pass-rushers,’’ Reid said, “and Dee falls into that category.’’

If Ford, who had 10½ sacks as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end at Auburn last season, can eventually become the equal of Hali or Houston, the pick is a great one even if linebacker wasn’t an immediate need for the Chiefs.

He will have to learn to play outside linebacker. But with Hali and Houston, the Chiefs can afford to let Ford develop.

In fact, the selection of Ford may be aimed more at the future than 2014. Hali will turn 31 in November and his big contract could become too much of a burden for the Chiefs by 2015. Houston is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

In the meantime, the Chiefs now have another pass-rusher they intend to use along with Hali and Houston on passing downs.

“You need as many of those guys as you can possibly get out there,’’ Reid said. “It just gives you a ton of flexibility to do some different things. He’s rushed from the inside, he’s rushed from the outside. He’s very quick and very fast. If he wasn’t the quickest defensive lineman off the ball in this draft, he surely was close to it. He’s got great explosion off the football. At the same time, he’s strong and he does a pretty good job against the run.

“He can edge [rush] like crazy. He’s going to present [opposing] tackles an aggressive target.’’

The Chiefs had more urgent needs at wide receiver, where they could have had USC’s Marqise Lee. They could have used another capable body at cornerback, where they passed on Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard.

That they passed on other key needs is indicative of what the Chiefs thought of Ford.

“We clearly thought he was the second best pass-rusher in this draft,’’ general manager John Dorsey said.

The best, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, was far out of the Chiefs’ range. He went to the Houston Texans with the first overall pick.

Ford will have to learn his new position. But time is a luxury the Chiefs have with him because they have Hali and Houston. They combined for 22 sacks last season, even though they combined to miss six games because of injuries.

“We’re going to teach him to play outside linebacker,’’ Reid said. “He doesn’t have the snaps at outside linebacker. He’s a little bit like Tamba when Tamba came out. That’s not where he’s had the majority of his snaps. He’s been a rush defensive end. But he’s somebody that you can work in there immediately in third-down, nickel situations.

“I think he can make that conversion.’’

Chiefs pick Dee Ford in 1st

May, 8, 2014
May 8
11:04
PM ET
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The pick: Dee Ford, linebacker, Auburn.

My take: Ford brings another edge pass-rusher to a team that sent two of them, in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, to the Pro Bowl last year. The Chiefs will find a way to get Ford on the field as a rookie but this move could as much be aimed at the future as 2014. Hali will turn 31 in November ,and Houston is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

Passing on a wide receiver, cornerback: The Chiefs could have had USC wide receiver Marqise Lee or Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard but passed on both players. Lee could have helped the Chiefs as a kick returner, as well, but they evidently believed he wouldn’t develop into a No. 1 receiver. If so, they were wise to pass on him. That the Chiefs passed on Dennard would indicate they intend to keep cornerback Brandon Flowers and not trade him.

What’s next: The Chiefs don’t have a second-round pick, having traded it to the San Francisco 49ers last year as part of the deal that brought quarterback Alex Smith. They have the 87th overall pick in the third round. That would be a good spot for them to find a receiver in a draft deep with them. Offensive line or defensive back also makes sense.

Live draft blog: Chiefs, Rd. 1

May, 8, 2014
May 8
6:00
PM ET
Join ESPN.com Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher as he gives you all the latest news from team headquarters during the 2014 NFL draft.

 

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