Chiefs sign two more rookies

Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to terms with two more rookies on three-year deals: running back Jamaal Charles from Texas and tight end Brad Cottam from Tennessee. Both are expected to play significant roles for the Chiefs in 2008.

Charles was a standout running back as a Texas Longhorn, winning a national championship as a freshman in 2005. He averaged 6.24 yards-per-carry during his college career, and rushed for over 3,000 yards despite sharing carries with Selvin Young, now a Denver Bronco, during his first two seasons at Texas.

Charles left Texas after his junior season, and was Kansas City's first selection on day two of the 2008 NFL draft. Many onlookers expected the Chiefs to draft based on positions of need in the third round, but the team stuck to their board and selected the best players available in Charles, Cottam, and safety Dajuan Morgan, fortifying positions of strength.

Charles adds to the Chiefs depth at running back, giving them a ball carrier with explosive speed. While he will not challenge Larry Johnson for the starting spot, he will push backup Kolby Smith for carries, and contribute heavily on special teams. Charles is probably the fastest player on the team, and he's put in work as a kick returner at OTAs and mini-camp.

Charles may be the fastest, but Cottam is the tallest. Standing 6-feet-8 inches tall and weighing in at about 265 pounds, Cottam's body is built for blocking. With the departure of Jason Dunn, the Chiefs were in need of a blocking tight end.

Cottam was plagued with injuries during his career as a Tennessee Volunteer, but he showed flashes of athleticism and an ability to block. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. raved about the Chiefs' selection of Cottam, saying the tight end had the athleticism, size, and talent to be a first-round selection. When new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey came to Kansas City, he brought with him an affinity for power running and two tight end sets.

The only tight end on KC's pre-draft roster other than perennial All-Pro Tony Gonzalez was last year's seventh-round pick, Michael Allan, who is more of a receiving tight end than a blocker, and still a year or two away from being a big contributor. With Gailey's penchant for double tight end sets, Cottam may wind up starting a few games in 2008.

While getting the last two third-round picks signed in Charles and Cottam is fantastic, the Chiefs still have some work to do before departing for River Falls, WI on Thursday. Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, and Brandon Flowers all remain unsigned (as does seventh-round pick Michael Merritt) and are expected to start this year. The Chiefs can't afford to barter with their agents through mid-August.

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