The beauty of the NFL draft lies somewhere in the gold you find at the end of the rainbow on day three. Thus the pot of riches that awaits the Kansas City Chiefs, and their quest to win the AFC West in 2015, lies somewhere in the hands of some of their latter round draft picks.
If players such as Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Ramik Wilson, D.J. Alexander and James O’Shaughnessy want to make the final cut, the items they learn in the teams rookie mini-camp will be their stepping stone to making the final roster.
With three of them playing on the defensive side of the ball, they might have an easier path to getting on the field because of the positions they play. The Chiefs are thin at defensive tackle and inside linebacker. Heading into training camp this summer Nunez-Roches, Wilson and Alexander will be players to watch as camp unfolds.
“They’ve been teaching me how to be a professional. With Coach Britt (Reid) and Coach Tom (Brasher), they’re making it pretty easy, teaching me the plays and breaking it down so it won’t be so complex for me,” Nunez-Roches stated.”
The Chiefs must find someone who can clog the middle of the defensive line in hopes of spelling, Donatari Poe, from time to time. It’s well documented, as the season wears into the cold months, Poe becomes less effective. So the quicker Nunez-Roches can get on the field at either defensive line position, the better for the Chiefs defense.
“Right now it’s between a big end and a disruptive tackle, so you’re playing the 3, but sometimes I go to an end. This is a whole different ballgame, another level,” he stated about the path that lies ahead in becoming a contributor this season.
For Wilson and Alexander, they come to the Chiefs knowing the team has virtually zero depth at inside linebacker. General Manager, John Dorsey raved about both linebackers after the draft. Still as late round picks, it’s going to take time to adjust to the style of defense they played in college and what’s expected of them at the NFL level.
“It’s alright. It’s been going good. Running new plays and everything and trying to go out and show the coaches that I’m a hard worker, I make plays and I’m trying to help the team,” Wilson stated.
Wilson can do just that. Even though his stats fell off a bit last season at Georgia, that doesn’t mean it was an anomaly. He’s an undersized linebacker that has a nose for the football and that’s something this defense needs desperately to elevate their game in 2015.
When the Chiefs went back-to-back at the inside linebacker position in selecting D.J. Alexander a round after Wilson, they might have uncovered a player that some scouts felt was one-dimensional. The Chiefs fell in love with his speed and that’s always a great thing to have on defense.
“I’ve always played like that. Growing up, I was at first the youngest one and couldn’t really play football, but once I got that chance, I just kind of took off from there and that aggressiveness never went away,” Alexander said about his style of play.
Both Wilson and Alexander will be given every opportunity to bump Josh Mauga out of a starters role. Should that occur veteran Derrick Johnson, will have to be the anchor that guides the pair of rookie linebackers in the treacherous NFL waters ahead.
On the flip side of the ball, Tight End James O’Shaughnessy comes to the Chiefs with play making abilities, size and a readiness that should have made him a second day pick. He has the makings of the type of player that isn’t fazed by the NFL level and a serious weapon for the Chiefs offense.
When the talented tight end was drafted, I saw multiple scenarios where O’Shaughnessy and Travis Kelce, could play the same snaps. Both run precise routes have the ability to make yards after the catch and each possesses hands of gold.
However, that’s a mute point until the Chiefs get into training camp and can line them up together. Until then, the young tight end is absorbing his first NFL practices.
”It’s good to actually finally get back out on the field after this hectic Draft time and all of the pro days and various things like that,” O’Shaughnessy said.
”Obviously there is a lot of learning going on, there’s a lot of hectic stuff. You’ve got to get all smashed in within three days, but I’ve had a blast so far and I’m just trying to stay level-headed and keep progressing each day.”
Again it’s far too early to really get excited about the Chiefs late round picks. However, just like the guys drafted on Thursday and Friday by Kansas City, this group has similar qualities. They carry an abundance of confidence and each made significant contributions at the collegiate level. That can’t hurt as they begin the transition from the college level into the NFL.
So when you add all those intangibles together, the Chiefs certainly have a quartet of young men that could become productive NFL players this season.