Chiefs Draft Grade "T" For Toughness

In his first NFL draft as Kansas City's head coach, Herm Edwards added a new level of toughness to his team. In every round the Chiefs took players that exemplify grit and know how to get it done in the trenches.

When the Chiefs were on the clock to make their first round pick, the majority of fans were likely screaming for receiver Chad Jackson or defensive end Manny Lawson. You can hardly blame them. Jackson and Lawson were two of the most highly-touted athletes in the draft. No one thought that either of those players would fall to the Chiefs. Herm had other plans.

Edwards had his board stacked with the tough guys at the top. Hard working, blue-collar players with nasty dispositions were the athletes that fit his profile. When Penn State's Tamba Hali was still there as the Chiefs went on the clock, Edwards couldn't resist taking him.

Due to his ruthless style of play and relentless motor, Edwards compared Hali to a hybrid of Warren Sapp and Dwight Freeney. When you look at him on film, it is a safe bet to say that the rest of the coaches in the Big 10 would probably agree. Known for his ability to level quarterbacks, Hali produced 11 sacks and 17 tackles for loss as a senior. As the leader of the Nittany Lions defense, Hali earned Big 10 defensive lineman of the year honors and was widely considered to be one of the most feared defenders in the nation.

In the second round, coach Edwards found one of his highly-rated players sitting at a position of need. During last year's draft the Chiefs were just one pick away from acquiring Georgia safety Thomas Davis. It's no secret that Kansas City has been longing for a big-play safety like Roy Williams or Rodney Harrison. The Chiefs were finally able to fill that need with Bernard Pollard, the 54th pick of this year's draft.

Like Hali before him, Pollard was one of the top defenders in the Big 10. An intimidating force to tight ends and receivers alike, Pollard is notorious for his big hits and sure tackling. He led the Boilermakers in tackles over the past two seasons and served as the team's emotional leader on defense. Coach Edwards undoubtedly sees Pollard playing the "John Lynch" role in Kansas City's cover-two scheme.

When the third round began, many expected the Chiefs to finally draft a cornerback with the 85th selection. Instead, Coach Edwards grabbed his third tough guy of the day, but did it at a surprising position: quarterback.

For someone who plays under center, Alabama's Brodie Croyle is about as tough as they come. He might be one of the toughest players from the SEC. With a porous line and few weapons to assist him on offense, Croyle was at times the human tackling dummy of his conference. The numbers he was able to put up under such duress are nothing short of amazing (6,107 yards and 40 touchdowns).

Without their fourth-round pick the Chiefs could only watch as the second day of the draft began. Max Jean-Gilles, Darnell Bing, Ko Simpson and Gabe Watson were a few of the big names to fly off of the board at the top of round. Fortunately for the Chiefs, their player of interest made it through the next 57 picks and fell to them in the fifth round.

Fifth-round selection Marcus Maxey was one of several corners still on the board that fit Kansas City's cover two defense. At 6'0"and 192 pounds, Maxey played every position possible as a defensive back for the University of Miami. His size and intelligence make him a natural for playing nickel or safety, while his ball awareness and speed allow him to play cornerback. Although he spent most of his college career behind former first-round pick Antrell Rolle, he still has three years of valuable experience at nickel back. That experience will make him a first year contributor for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs final three picks of the day were spent on offensive tackle Tre' Stallings from Ole Miss, receiver Jeff Webb from San Diego State and safety Jarrad Page from UCLA. Page might be the most exciting of the three players but it will be interesting to see where he fits on the Chiefs. His skill set is similar to that of second-round pick Bernard Pollard.

Although most fans and members of the media are giving the Chiefs a B to C- grade for their draft, the Chiefs deserve credit for sticking to their value board. As expected, Edwards put a premium on football players and less stock in athletes. The previous regime missed on a lot of first-day players because they were too enamored by measurables. Had it not been for the scouting department's ability find gems in the later rounds the previous coaching staff might have only drafted five starters over the past six years. Edwards should yield far different results.

Fast forty times and weight room accomplishments are useless without a passion for the game. This is the one common factor between all of the Chiefs 2006 draft picks. Their passion, heart and resiliency will place them above any of their more athletic peers that just go through the motions on the field. This will be Edwards' lasting thumbprint on the Chiefs organization for the next decade, a decade built on toughness.

Examining The Picks – Scouting Report

Tamba Hali, DE, 6'3" 275, Penn Stat
Hali is a relentless pass rusher that always drives with his legs and keeps his feet moving. He has good lower body strength and holds up well against the run. He is a big hitter, plays with a nasty attitude and will clean a player's clock rather than drag them to the ground.

Hali started out as a defensive tackle and has limited experience at defensive end. He's still learning the position and has a lot of upside from a technique and fundamentals standpoint. Hali is very coachable and a hard worker. He's a strong character guy both on and off of the field.

Bernard Pollard, SS, 6'2" 223, Purdue
Pollard is a ferocious hitter that excels in playing close to the line of scrimmage. He's a tackling machine and a big time run stuffer that will decleat anything that moves. He's one of the more instinctive safeties in this years draft and he usually shows up in the right place at the right time. He'll set the tone for the defense with his physical play and force receivers to have their heads on a swivel when crossing the middle.

Pollard has a lot of playing experience but might lack the foot speed for man coverage in the NFL. When playing in a two deep zone he'll need to be protected by a pass rush so receivers don't have time to beat him down the sideline on deep routes.

Brodie Croyle, QB, 6'3" 204, Alabama Croyle has command of the entire passing tree and has the zip and power to throw the deep out while still possessing the touch to throw the fade. He's a decent decision maker with the aptitude to pick up the Chiefs offense and eventually run it in a year or two. He's also underrated as an athlete and has some agility when avoiding the pass rush. Croyle lives for the big play and has a gunslinger mentality. He's also a strong character guy off of the field.

Marcus Maxey, CB 6'2" 197 Miami
Maxey is a perfect corner for a cover-two defense. He has the physical size and strength to come up and play the run like a safety. Maxey can out-muscle most wide receivers and force them inside towards coverage. He has a lot of experience at nickel back so he understands how to make the inside reads that are required at that position.

Despite his size, Maxey still has the foot speed and quickness to play man-to-man. He can run down the field with most NFL receivers, but might have problems against a player like Steve Smith or Santana Moss.

Maxey has played at a big program in one of the top three football conferences. It would not be surprising to see him as the Chiefs starting nickel corner in 2006.

Tre' Stallings, G/T 6'3" 315, Mississippi
Stallings was an offensive tackle in college. He might have to move inside to guard in the NFL. We have yet to see him on film so it's hard to say a lot about him (looking at his stats he appears to be decent pass protector). He'll be one of the players we keep a close eye on in rookie camp.

Jeff Webb, WR 6'2" 201 San Diego State
Webb is another player we have yet to see on tape, but he'll bring some size back to the Chiefs receiving corps. When rookie camp arrives we'll be sure to give our readers a full evaluation on his skills.
Jarrad Page, SS 6'0" 220 UCLA
Page has the physical potential to be a better pro player than he was in college. He's not as polished or instinctive as second-round pick Bernard Pollard. Page should be a solid special teams contributor as a rookie. He's considered a slight project when it comes to safety.

Undrafted Rookie Free Agents:
After the draft the Chiefs signed 15 rookie free agents, the most notable being Kansas linebacker Nick Reid. The Big 12 defensive player of the year is without question the most talented defender to go un-drafted and has a very good chance at making Kansas City's final 53-man roster.

Some of the other players to sign were receiver Danny Melendez of Maryland, fullback Jake Slaughter of Auburn, receiver Kyle Brown of Michigan State, receiver Chris Hannon of Tennessee, tight end Bob Docherty of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, receiver Travis LaTendresse of Utah, guard Steve Franklin of Syracuse, defensive tackle Alex Guerrero of Boise State and running back De'Arrius Howard of Arkansas.

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