The Right Players

With the first day of the NFL draft in the books, you can hear the winds of change blowing through One Arrowhead Drive.

Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards is wasting no time in putting his mark on the team, personnel-wise. In just over twelve hours, Edwards took huge strides in changing the Chiefs' defensive personality. With the first pick, Edwards took Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali, a high motor, passionate football player who simply relishes the opportunity to get on the field. With the second pick, the Chiefs surprised everyone by taking hard-hitting Purdue safety Bernard Pollard. Pollard is a passionate, talented football player, but no one expected him to go that high.

From what Edwards has said in the past, these rookies will get the opportunity to compete and play early.

"I'm a firm believer in that when you draft players, you don't wait until their third or fourth year until you play them," Edwards said earlier this year. "I am not afraid to play young players. Carl (Peterson) knows that. Bill (Kuharich) knows that. I think that if you are a productive player and you play hard, you are going to play."

Edwards wants to field a fervent, fast defense this season. Hali and Pollard are two players that will go a long way towards establishing that. Despite limited football experience, Hali tore up the Big Ten in his first year as a defensive end.

"When you watch him, you will appreciate the type of player we drafted," Edwards said. "We drafted a guy, in my estimation, who will come in and set the tempo for our defensive line. Even though he is a rookie, I just think the way he plays shows his effort and passion for the game. You cannot coach that. He plays with a heavy heart and plays with passion. He is a guy who is relentless."

Relentless. When was the last time you heard that word associated with the Chiefs defense?

"With his relentlessness to the ball he's like Warren (Sapp). He just kept coming and coming," Edwards said. "He kind of plays like the guy (Dwight Freeney) in Indianapolis. He gets blocked and he keeps coming. This guy keeps playing until the whistle blows, because you're going to get blocked. Who are we kidding? Then what do you do? Do you stand there and watch the play or do you continue to run after the play? When you watch this guy he doesn't stop until the whistle blows."

Pollard, the second round pick, is no slouch either. Despite being projected by many to be a late round pick, the Chiefs snagged him with the 54th selection. Pollard brings toughness, fearlessness and a nasty attitude to the Chiefs secondary. Edwards thinks that he could be a gem.

"I think when you get young, athletic guys that are tough football players, you become a better defense," said Edwards. "Both these players can run and are passionate about playing football. (Pollard) can tackle, and that's kind of important. These guys will put their face mask on people and will hit them. You have to have that presence if you're going to be a physical defense. He's a big man: 220 pounds, about a 4.5 guy. He can run, very physical."

Pollard's highlight tape looks like an "NFL's greatest hits" video. He's fast and can bring a load. He's also a sure tackler, a dimension that was missing from the Chiefs' defense last year, particularly at safety. Pollard has all the makings of a fine cover two safety for years to come.

With all the analysis and hoopla over the draft, the purpose of the draft becomes convoluted. The purpose of the draft is to add players that can be successful in your team's system. The purpose of the draft is to build your team with players who set the personality of your team. The Chiefs have done that and more.

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