For the second year in a row the Kansas City Chiefs used their first-round draft pick on a player who dominated Senior Bowl week.
Last year it was offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who went No. 1 overall out of Central Michigan. This year, former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford was their pick at No. 23.
While Fisher didn't step in last year and dominate right away along the offensive line, the situation Ford finds himself in is somewhat similar to the one Fisher had last year.
Fisher was seen as the heir apparent to former Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert, who left via free agency to sign with the Miami Dolphins.
The Chiefs knew of the impending free agent status of Albert and that it was going to be an expensive check to write, and they decided to fill that position with a younger, cheaper player in Fisher.
It's tough decisions like these that have lasting ramifications on an organization, but Chiefs general manager John Dorsey inherited a team with many large contracts and several tough decisions to make when he took over more than a year ago.
Many see Ford in the same situation as Pro Bowl outside linebacker Tamba Hali holds a pretty substantial cap hit in 2015, but the Chiefs can save $9 million dollars by releasing him after next season.
Ford would have a year to learn and develop before being handed a large responsibility as the starting outside linebacker across from Justin Houston.
Almost half of the Chiefs total sacks last season came from Houston and Hali (22 of 47), and despite a strong start to the season for the defense, the Chiefs came to realize their depth problem in the pass-rush department after injuries sidelined both Houston and Hali for a period of time.
|Chiefs linebackers pass-rushing numbers in 2013|
|Player||Total snaps||Pass rush snaps||QB hurries||Ratio|
|Pro Football Focus|
Right here you can see the productivity of each of the Chiefs linebackers and the ratio of how many pass-rushing snaps it took them to get a quarterback hurry in 2013.
The big question has become how will Dee Ford fit into this Chiefs defensive scheme.
Many believe, including Jinx Allessio of KCChiefsdraft.com, that Ford could fit best in a Wide 9 technique next year, which would allow Hali and Houston to stay on the field as well.
Ford's bread and butter is his speed and quickness around the edge. By getting out wide he's effectively eliminating much of the engagement with defenders that isn't hand usage while he's already on the move.
Much of what you hear about Ford is his quick first step.
Here's a play diagrammed below that shows how devastating Ford's first step is for an offensive lineman.
Ford shot out like a cannon and just two steps into this sequence the offensive lineman knew he had a problem. Ford beat him upfield to the corner, effectively bending the edge and ultimately disrupting the play.
It's not just the quickness on the first step up the field, Ford can use that same explosion to get across the face of an offensive lineman when he rips across to the inside.
Ford will be a situational pass-rusher for the Chiefs in his first season. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Bob Sutton finds ways to get Houston, Hali and Ford on the field at the same time. It would likely involve kicking Hali back inside, and having the veteran play with his hand in the dirt might not best take advantage of his skill set at this point in his career.
As a rookie and situational pass-rusher, the Chiefs should look to put Ford in as many good situations as possible. He's at his best when he's lined up out wide and relying on his speed more than anything to beat the offensive lineman.
Ford will have to learn to disengage better when locked up with offensive lineman but the closing speed and instincts to make plays are already there. Therefore, the more often Ford can be split out and given space to use his speed, the more productive he'll be the Kansas City defense.
For his rookie season, look for Ford's impact to come in small doses, as he tries to develop into something more than just a situational pass-rusher.
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