8 Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for the Kansas City Chiefs
In 2013, information overload was the second-leading killer of American smartphones, particularly those of Kansas City Chiefs fans.
It overthrew drunken cannonballs for the No. 1 spot last week.
The Sunday before last, it took Richard Sherman all of 15 seconds to turn Twitter into a 140-character suggestion box. Seattle's All-Pro set his stardom ablaze, kicked his feet up on social media's roundtable and watched the sparks fly.
Fast-forward to the following Saturday, and Chiefs fans, knowing that Kansas City doesn't have a second-round pick (as of now), surveyed the mid- to late-round talent show that is known as the Senior Bowl. They then saw Alex Smith spearhead a game-winning Pro Bowl drive, while Derrick Johnson added the game's defensive MVP award to his resume.
And then there's the parade of Peyton Manning storylines that are hyping the buildup for Super Bowl XLVIII.
Due to said events, many an iPhone has bit the digital dust, and football nuts have had the attention span of a cat at a deadmau5 rave. The exception? General managers such as the Chiefs' John Dorsey, who has prepared for the 2014 NFL draft by mining endless amounts of film in hopes of unearthing a late-round gem.
The following eight-pack of prospects should catch the eye of Kansas City's GM.
8. Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
Tevin Reese is a one-dimensional receiver.
Fortunately for him, the pass-oriented NFL places a premium on that dimension, and he excels at it.
First, let's highlight why he's pegged as a Day 3 pick. Reese is an average route-runner and tends to have a lackadaisical mentality when the play side resides on the opposite end of the formation. He frequently shies away from what he deems as unnecessary contact (i.e., blocking). Also, at least once per game, his gloves change to oven mitts, and the football becomes a laced hot potato.
Reese's one and only redeeming quality is speed—his base 40 time clocks in at 4.36, per NFLDraftScout.com. In the scouting community, that's Heisenberg status.
The Baylor wideout is basically cut from the same cloth as Donnie Avery. He would just come packaged with a significantly cheaper price tag.
Draft Projection: Round 7
7. Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt
As of this writing, I've yet to see a draft projection that slots Kenny Ladler lower than the fifth round. CBS' big board classifies him as a fourth- to fifth-round talent.
Ladler's pros justify that designation, but his cons would leave me gun-shy.
When watching film, some of the free safety's flaws are glaring. He has an upright backpedal and doesn't change direction particularly well. At times, he also attempts to evade blockers instead of engaging them, and he's prone to overpursuing the ball-carrier, which results in ineffective arm tackles.
But here's the thing: Despite his upright backpedal, he breaks on the ball exceptionally well, especially for someone of his size. And although he's liable to shy away from bigger blockers, he also hones in on wideouts and rushers like a human missile—Ladler's five forced fumbles tied for first in the FBS last season.
Another plus that could pique John Dorsey's curiosity is that Vanderbilt regularly employed Cover 1—a cornerstone of Bob Sutton's defensive philosophy—which imparted a wealth of wisdom to Ladler as a single-high safety.
Vanderbilt's lengthy prospect has the desired NFL size, which will likely balloon his stock more than what his tape warrants. If Ladler irons out his wrinkles, he'll evolve into a serviceable safety. That being said, drafting him is a double-edged sword, and his drawbacks bear a closer resemblance to Hyde than Jekyll.
In all likelihood, he will become a viable backup who's drafted too high due to his metrics. He definitely presents value as a late fifth- to early sixth-round selection, though.
Draft Projection: Round 5
6. Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Assuming he re-signs, the Chiefs have one prototypical slot receiver: Dexter McCluster. Dwayne Bowe and Junior Hemingway will occasionally occupy the role, but those instances are normally just wrinkles that are dictated by the scenario and/or blocking woes.
Jeremy Gallon fits the build of an NFL slot-out to a T. He's a sharp route-runner who totes the agility that's expected at the position. While he's not quite as elusive as McCluster in the open field, he's more likely to break a tackle.
The most impressive asset in Gallon's arsenal is his hands—something slot receivers aren't particularly renowned for. Michigan's playmaker routinely hauled in praiseworthy receptions, always attacking passes with his gloves instead of trapping them with his chest. That alone separates him from the pack and will ensure his spot on an NFL roster.
Draft Projection: Round 6
5. Russell Bodine, G/C, North Carolina
Andy Reid's offense entails a lot of screens and downfield blocking, which is primarily why he's known to have a soft spot for athletic linemen.
Throughout the offseason, the local spotlight will be cast upon Branden Albert, but the interior of the O-line isn't exempt from its own line of questioning either. By the end of the season, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Jeff Allen No. 125 of 144 guards. Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz performed admirably, but they're both set to hit the free-agent market.
North Carolina's Russell Bodine is the happy medium of powerful and athletic. He possesses enough strength to generate push and enough mobility to latch onto linebackers in zone blocking.
The vast majority of his snaps resided at center, but his skill set would allow him to slide to guard fairly seamlessly.
Even if the Chiefs re-signed Asamoah and Schwartz, they could still benefit from some added depth up front, particularly since backup center Eric Kush had a nightmarish preseason (he only received 73 snaps during the regular season).
Draft Projection: Round 5-6
4. Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
Jalen Saunders is a junkyard dog trapped inside a chihuahua's body.
There were concerns about Dexter McCluster's spindly build entering the 2011 draft, and Saunders tips the scales at approximately 10 pounds less (5'9", 157 lbs) than No. 22. His size alone is bound to file him as a Day 3 selection.
However, numbers don't lie, and they make a strong opening argument against his cynics; excluding a brief period of ineligibility (transfer-related), Saunders never missed a game throughout his four-year collegiate career.
The senior wideout is nothing short of a perfectionist. He's a meticulous route-runner who, according to The Sideline View, only dropped 3.1 percent of his targets last season. And when he's clutching the ball, he morphs into an open-field nightmare who pops defenders' egos like bubble wrap. Even when opponents corral him, he doesn't go down without a fight.
While Saunders has authored no shortage of decibel-cranking highlights, the most eye-opening facet of his game may be his blocking. He attacks the competition like someone who has a permanent chip on his shoulder, which often results in corners being bullied and bulldozed by someone they could use as a toothpick.
Was Saunders on the receiving end of some cringe-worthy hits? Sure. He's too dynamic to gloss over, though, and if GMs are looking for proof to fuel their suspicions, they're not going to find it in his attendance record.
Draft Projection: Round 5
3. Marqueston Huff, FS, Wyoming
In matter of months, Marqueston Huff will become a professional soul reaver.
Obviously, Wyoming isn't known for its athletic prowess. In fact, it's not really known. It's the barren wasteland that ruined your perfect score on the fifth-grade "list all 50 states" quiz. Its football program birthed the remote.
Due to that, no one would blame you for not recognizing Huff's name, but his opponents won't be forgetting it anytime soon. And if they do, odds are they're lying on their back after a crossing route.
If you haven't seen him in action but want a vague visualization of his demeanor, imagine if Marshawn Lynch doubled as a defensive back. The closest comparison on the Chiefs roster would be Sanders Commings.
Huff, like Commings, is an aggressive secondary standout who split collegiate snaps at cornerback and free safety. They both also shed the sluggish stereotype that is associated with physical defenders, as their respective 40 times hover around the 4.4 mark (which, considering that Commings is 223 pounds, is borderline insane).
At the next level, the skill set of Wyoming's star is tailored for free safety—a position that tends to be the brains of the secondary's operation. When lined up as the safety valve, Huff glides with unwavering poise—he regularly brushes off blockers while never losing sight of the ball-carrier—and keen instincts. Despite his hard-hitting mindset, he routinely thwarts cutback opportunities by maintaining back-side discipline.
The senior's backpedal could use a little sharpening, but overall, his positives trump the negatives. Simply put, the pillars of the Bob Sutton gospel are physicality and accountability, and Huff practices what the Chiefs coordinator preaches.
Draft Projection: Round 5-6
2. Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
If Andre Hal falls to the fifth round, take him. In fact, if my office nameplate had "John Dorsey" etched in it, I'd be tempted to take him on Day 2.
Certain aspects of Hal's game remind me of Brandon Flowers'.
Their frames don't mirror each other—Hal is leaner and has roughly four inches on the Pro Bowler—and while the future draftee is more athletic and a hair faster, Kansas City's veteran edges him in the technique department.
However, both are physical corners who shine in press-man coverage and tackle with the voracity of strong safeties. They also showcase textbook backpedals and break on underneath routes with screeching acceleration.
Vanderbilt's star also moonlights as a dangerous weapon in the return game.
Hal will have to pack on a few pounds before trying to jam hulking targets like Demaryius Thomas at the line, but his stock, at least at this point, is being vastly undersold. If his name is announced on Day 3, one GM is going to exit Radio City Music Hall with an added feather in his cap.
Draft Projection: Round 4-5
1. Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State
When rookies jump from the college ranks to the big leagues, the competition, to them, tends to look like someone pressed fast-forward—there's a tangible difference. Furthermore, passers tend to anticipate moves like gunslinging chess masters.
Right now, Kansas City's unofficial depth chart doesn't list a free safety. Kendrick Lewis and Husain Abdullah are free agents, and while there's been chatter about Sanders Commings—who was limited to three regular-season snaps due to injury—transitioning to the back end, per Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star, he lacks experience.
Personally, I think Commings has the potential to (one day) become an effective starter, and I'd also be surprised if the Chiefs don't re-enlist Abdullah for 2014. But the former has to participate in the game before he can impact it, and the latter's role was more akin to a nickelback than a safety.
Kansas City needs all the help it can get at the position, and Terrence Brooks fits the bill. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in instincts and athleticism. To say that he has a nose for the ball would be an understatement. When the pigskin takes flight, Brooks hunts it down like a helmeted bloodhound.
For better or worse, his cornerback roots are periodically exposed. Sometimes he'll gamble on a potential strip instead of wrapping up the ball-carrier, and his next coaching staff needs to refine his tackling form. But make no mistake, he drools for contact.
Brooks often played a role similar to Eric Berry, creeping up into boxes like an extra linebacker and/or spying on opposing passers. However, while Berry rarely roams as the deep safety, Brooks spent the majority of plays doing just that.
The incoming rookie flashes the adequate closing speed to seal vertical windows, and his fondness for film study is apparent. Brooks diagnoses tendencies and consistently reacts quicker than his defensive cohorts. He also doubles as a solid special teamer.
Draft Projection: Round 4-5
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