Tamba Hali the First Choice for KC

In a move that surprised some around the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali with their first round selection on Saturday afternoon.

Hali was the Big Ten defensive player of the year in 2005 where he recorded 11 sacks, 65 tackles (27) solo. He is a high-motor guy who will likely start opposite Jared Allen at left defensive end. That's where he played in college.

Hali did not have a solid workout on Penn State's Pro Day and that caused some teams to back off. He still is a bit raw but he can play both defensive tackle and defensive end.

"We'll play him at defensive end," Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards said shortly after the selection.

Hali, who was born in Liberia, was one of three players the Chiefs were considering with the 20th pick. Their top three guys on their board were Hali, defensive end Manny Lawson from NC State and Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams.

However, the decision to select Hali was made days ago. "We decided days ago if Tamba was available at the 20th pick that we would select him," Carl Peterson told reporters.

For Hali, he didn't care where he was drafted.

"I just wanted to go where I was ranked. I didn't want to be on a team where they didn't want me. I think being the 20th pick or if Kansas City had the 30th pick and they picked me, I still would have been happy," Hali said minutes after he was selected by the Chiefs.

The Chiefs by selecting Hali were not swayed by his poor pro day workouts. Hali is a player that has the reputation of never taking a play off and he's ready to bring a fire to the Chiefs defense.

"I think with the type of player that I am I will bring my relentless spirit onto the field and be able to contribute to our defense out there and just help become a better defense every game from then on. I will just try to play wild and play strong. I will try to be a leader on the field and off the field," Hali said.

That's something this team is looking for in each of their seven selections in the 2006 NFL Draft. He has a huge supporter in Carl Peterson.

"He is a marvelous human being," Peterson said. "I think you all know about his background and what he has gone through to get here. This is a very, very talented young man. He is a wonderful human being and an outstanding player for the Kansas City Chiefs."

At first glance, the pick seems to be a reach but for a pure pass rusher, the Chiefs selected the best defensive end in the draft.

Warpaint Illustrated Scouting Report:
Hali is powerful pass rusher with a non-stop motor. He possesses a powerful lower body and has nice explosion at the snap. Hali also does a nice job of using his hands when battling for position and rarely allows an offensive lineman get into his pads.

As a former defensive tackle Hali understands how to play low and set up against the run. This is something many pass rushing defensive ends struggle with when they reach the NFL, but Hali will be well ahead of the curve. 2005 was Hali's first year as a defensive end so he still has some room for improvement when it comes to refining his pass rush techniques.

Though his closest NFL comparison is Dwight Freeney, Hali isn't nearly as quick as Freeney. Hali is a more powerful player so there is a sort of a tradeoff there.

The danger with Hali is that he may have reached the peak of his athletic potential. Unlike Kiwanuka and Lawson, there isn't a lot of room left on Hali's frame. He's about as large as he'll ever be and it's unlikely he'll get any faster. It is possible that he could end up being nothing more than an "effort" player, like Eric Hicks.

Hali is the 27th rated player on Warpaint Illustrated's value board and carries a mid first-round grade.

Comparable Player: The Colt's Dwight Freeney.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories