Edwards Prepared For First Draft

Edwards, an undrafted player who fashioned an NFL career in Philadelphia that ultimately included a Super Bowl appearance (after the 1980 season) and a Pro Bowl appearance, has a nice history of finding and developing cornerbacks taken in later rounds.

While working with the defense that spearheaded the development of Tampa Bay into a Super Bowl champion, he was on a staff that drafted players such as Donnie Abraham, Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly in the second and third rounds.

So, it's entirely possible that Kansas City might look at needs at wide receiver or for a pass rushing lineman, either a tackle or end, with its first round pick.

The Chiefs are big on drafting players who have made on-campus visits to Arrowhead Stadium.

Among the 26 players invited to Kansas City this year are some first-round candidates draftniks will want to keep in mind. Most notable are corners Jonathan Joseph of South Carolina and Antonio Cromarte of Florida State; pass-rushing defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College and Manny Lawson of North Carolina State; and wide receiver Santonio Holmes of Ohio State.

Possible later round prospects visiting Kansas City were DBs Richard Marshall of Fresno State, Daniel Manning of Abilene Christian and Justin Hamilton of Virginia Tech.

The new head coach is a former NFL cornerback and his new team is generally acknowledged to need help at the corner position. The natural assumption, then, is that the Chiefs will draft a corner when they make the 20th pick in the first round of next week's NFL draft.

That's not necessarily a safe assumption, however.

In his first draft as the Chiefs coach, Herm Edwards says the vintage "best player available" approach will again be the marching order of the day throughout the two-day draft.

"Sometimes you get caught when you're trying to fill specific positions and you overlook a good player somewhere else," Edwards said. "I'm a big believer in taking the best player. We would have missed on Larry Johnson if we didn't take him (in 2003) just because we also had Priest Holmes."

Added Chiefs president Carl Peterson, who has been burned before in using the "fill a need first" philosophy: "You can't reach just to fill a need if somebody very special is still there," said Peterson, who overruled coach Dick Vermeil's desire to draft a defensive player instead of Johnson in 2003.

"If it's close in how you have players ranked, only then does the deciding factor become the need a player might fill."

Chiefs president Carl Peterson continues to hold out hope that Priest Holmes, who has failed to complete the second half of each of the past two seasons because of injuries, will be available this year as a backup to featured back Larry Johnson.

Holmes, however, has yet to be medically cleared to play. He started seven games last year before going down because of head and neck injuries. He failed to finish the 2004 season because of a knee injury.

Holmes is working out on his own at his San Antonio home, which has been his offseason training regimen for the past several years.

"He's making progress, but right now, the doctors have not cleared him for contact," Peterson said, adding that Holmes will be further evaluated later this spring.

"As I've said many other times about Priest Holmes, I would not count him out. Right now, we're counting him in."

Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez has not been working with the team in its offseason conditioning program, but coach Herm Edwards says he expects his Pro Bowl tight end to be showing up in Kansas City soon.

That's especially likely now that Gonzalez is no longer involved with NBC's "Celebrity Cooking Showdown."

Gonzalez was one of the first casualties after being voted off the show in the April 17 episode. Gonzalez worked with chef Cat Cora on a menu of handmade mozzarella balls, part of his Caprese salad. His entry was a penne a la vodka with salmon. For dessert Gonzalez offered a hazelnut chocolate ice cream with espresso.

It was an ambitious undertaking, but Edwards says Gonzalez should concentrate on what he does next.

"He'll be here with us soon, I promise," Edwards said. "I told him that here he could at least get cooking lessons from my wife."

Trying to stockpile cornerback depth, the Chiefs have signed former Rams cornerback Chris Johnson to a two-year deal.

Johnson was a free agent who appeared in 14 games with one start in St. Louis last year. He returned 38 kickoffs for a 22.6-yard average with one touchdown. Johnson was a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2003.

"Our owner, Lamar Hunt, he loves the guy. He asked me about him one day and I said, 'Lamar, if that guy drops to us, he's going to be a Chief." -- Coach Herman Edwards, laughing off speculation that Texas quarterback Vince Young could fall as low as the Chiefs' No. 20 position in the first round.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE/LS Ed Perry; CB Dewayne Washington.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OT Jordan Black; DE Jimmy Wilkerson.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: CB Julian Battle; CB Benny Sapp; PK Lawrence Tynes.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: DT Lional Dalton; LS Kendall Gammon; DE Carlos Hall; QB Damon Huard.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DT Ron Edwards; RB Quentin Griffin; CB Chris Johnson; CB Lenny Walls.
PLAYERS LOST: LB Shawn Barber; WR Marc Boerigter; QB Todd Collins; WR Chris Horn; CB Dexter McCleon; FB Tony Richardson; LB Gary Stills; CB Eric Warfield.

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