Over his three-year college career the former Volunteer compiled 245 tackles and 14 interceptions with a total of 292 return yards, just 9 shy of an NCAA record. Berry is a hard hitting physical safety that puts fear into opposing receivers but also gives the Chiefs the versatility they desperately need.
Former Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin said of Berry, "He's going to be a phenomenal special teams player in the NFL…He can play both safety spots and nickel." His ability to play multiple positions in the backfield was an opinion Chiefs head coach Todd Haley shared as well, "We want two balanced safeties that can both do the same thing and I think he fits that category".
Despite what Todd Haley will tell you about Berry's on the field ability, the real reason the 2009 Jim Thorp award winner is a Kansas City Chief is his ability off the field. While compiling hay stacks of awards that include back to back Jack Tatum awards for best collegiate defensive player (2008, 2009), he also boasted a grade point average of 3.75.
The Chiefs are getting an extremely intelligent player as well as the defensive leader they have been in desperate need of since the passing of Derrick Thomas over a decade ago. "You need leadership on any kind of team and you can't put a price tag on it and I don't think you can have enough" says the Chiefs head coach. "In coaching staff meetings you hear, ‘Gosh, we need more leaders. We need more leaders'…he's shown the ability to do that on- and off-the-field."
In Berry the Chiefs get a great character guy who fits Todd Haley's philosophy of the "right 53". The "right 53" apparently did not include linebacker Rolando McClain who went 8th overall to Oakland or the surprisingly available Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung.
Both would have fulfilled major needs on their respective sides of the ball but the Chiefs believe Berry offered the most upside. "When you had the type of year that we had, you have a lot of needs… but you've got to narrow it down and you've got to try to take the guy that you think can help you the most."
Berry's hard hitting, physical mentality is what made him one of the most feared safeties in all of college football. It may be what makes him a liability as well. The Chiefs last notorious hard hitting safety Bernard Pollard often would lay the wood on many ambitious running backs only to find himself watching from the ground as the would be tackle bounces away.
If Berry's objective on the field is making the tackle and not making Monday nights "Jacked Up" list the Chiefs could have a potential pro-bowler if not a hall of famer. His ability to charm the Chief's brass is why Eric Berry is a Kansas City Chief. Let's just hope the Chiefs didn't get enamored into another first round bust.
A Berry Good Guy
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