In the NFL, undrafted rookies' short-term goals are long shots. But "tunnel vision" will become a double entendre for a select few as they sprint onto a field of dreams: Arrowhead Stadium.
Since general manager Scott Pioli has taken the helm, an undrafted player has managed to crack the 53-man roster every season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Beginning in 2009, Jovan Belcher took advantage of the opportunity and evolved into a perennial starter at inside linebacker.
Kansas City created a buzz with the signing of undrafted rookie quarterback Alex Tanney on June 5. Unfortunately, the abundance of headlines were due to the numbers he generated—on YouTube. Tanney's 15 minutes of fame derived from his jaw-dropping trick-shot videos. But the viral shooting star will likely suffer a crash-landing in Kansas City and prove to be a one-trick pony.
However, the following undrafted rookies should encounter smoother sailing in the City of Fountains.
Josh Bellamy (WR, Louisville)
Kansas City's receiving corps is among the league's deepest. Dwayne Bowe has been the mainstay of the Chiefs aerial attack since 2007. Steve Breaston will compete with the human highlight, Jonathan Baldwin, for the second starting position. Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie—2012's fourth-round pick—will haunt defensive coordinators while occupying the slot(s).
Rookie wide receiver Josh Bellamy, however, is the most likely undrafted candidate to survive the final cut.
During his collegiate Pro Day, Bellamy's recorded 40 times ranged between 4.38 and 4.40 seconds. (Scout.com)
But the rookie's arsenal proves that, in his particular scenario, the significance of quantity precedes quality. At Louisville, the fleet-footed hopeful doubled as a cornerback in dire situations. Bellamy's blurring speed and exhibited defensive toughness culminate into an ideal player on special teams—the gateway between the undrafted outskirts and the bright lights of the NFL.
Terrance Parks (DB, Florida State)
Terrance Parks has the recommendation of one avid, crowd-pleasing supporter: former SEC rival and high school friend, Eric Berry. Parks elaborated on the two friends' recent OTA experience with KCChiefs.com's Josh Looney:
Of course Eric wasn’t practicing, but he was always in my ear. He’s always giving me little pointers and telling me things to do. He’s constantly helping me out. Him being my friend, of course I’m ready to see him get back on the field. He’s been hurt and I want to see him get back out there and do what he does best. I’m excited.
Although he was initially recruited as a highly touted cornerback, Parks transitioned to safety at FSU due to lack of depth at the position. His capabilities haven't gone unnoticed: Parks has already participated in first-team reps (due to Berry's ongoing absence) under the guidance of Coach Crennel.
Like his aforementioned peer, Josh Bellamy, the former Seminoles' diversity is his golden ticket.
Dexter Heyman (LB, Louisville)
At 6'3", 238 pounds, Dexter Heyman already resembles the typical Sunday linebacker.
During his first three years at Louisville, Heyman silently flew under the scouting radar; it was blipping by the final whistle of his senior season.
In 2011, the inside linebacker accounted for 90 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and one forced fumble. In short, he was a personified wrecking ball.
Pioli's search for an ILB to complement Derrick Johnson annually boomerangs and returns back into the waiting arms of Jovan Belcher. Nonetheless, the job remains up for grabs.
But if Heyman hopes to eventually fill the shoes of Belcher—his undrafted cohort—he'll first have to follow his footsteps.