5 Kansas City Chiefs Players Who Will Surprise During Training Camp
If you attend the first week of the Kansas City Chiefs' training camp, five players will raise your eyebrow like Dwayne Johnson.
Obviously, surprises can seesaw between awesome and world-shattering, and Chiefs fans stood on both sides of the fence in 2013.
The national media were hailing Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson as (potentially) the best cornerback trio in football. Flowers struggled against bigger receivers. Smith got burned like a tiki torch. Robinson looked like he's 10 years off from a Hoveround cameo.
Conversely, athletes like Geoff Schwartz, Anthony Sherman and Marcus Cooper pole-vaulted past expectations.
In training camp, five names will follow the latter path.
5. Charcandrick West, RB, No. 35
Charcandrick West made a few splashes during minicamp, as TWC SportsChannel's Nick Jacobs notes, but nothing that screamed "feed me!" in regard to carries.
2nd O vs 1st D in team. Charcandrick West was able to showcase his speed as his found a crease on the cutback and exploded for a 30yd+ gain.— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) June 13, 2014
Wait until the pads are on.
When West clasps the ball, it looks like a Pamplona bull running through a crowd of clowns.
At the rusher's pro day, his 40 time—which, per NFL Draft Scout, varied between 4.34 and 4.58 seconds—was skewed by 20 mph winds, but he has shifty short-area quickness and runs with an ironclad will.
Ultimately, receiving and blitz protection will dictate his first-year fate. And he'll engage in a three-way battle with Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight for the third roster spot.
But if you think that West cracking the 53-man roster is too tall a task, don't be—actually, for the sake of the narrative, do be—surprised if he and his 41" vertical prove otherwise.
4. Dwayne Bowe, WR, No. 82
Dwayne Bowe is a former Pro Bowler who headlined the league with 15 receiving touchdowns in 2010. His potential isn't going to sneak up on anyone.
But if he returns to his pre-2012 self, his resurgence will.
When Matt Cassel left town, the passer's favorite wideout became the newly anointed whipping boy.
Fairly or unfairly, Bowe has been demonized to the extent that if he doesn't reel in a sideline-straddling catch in a playoff game (see: Indianapolis), he's a bum. Never mind the eight receptions. Never mind the 150 yards and touchdown.
If Kansas City loses? Bowe's fault. If the secondary collapses? Bowe. Scoop of ice cream falls off the cone? You get it.
But judging by offseason reports, the vet is turning over a new leaf—not the Sonic-craving kind—as USA Today's Tom Pelissero details:
As Chiefs Spin's Herbie Teope notes, it seems to be paying dividends:
OK, initial reaction is shorts/helmet. But Chiefs QB Alex Smith and WR Dwayne Bowe look pretty darn good through nine OTAs with chemistry.— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) June 12, 2014
Furthermore, he's been training with Larry Fitzgerald, who is like the Morgan Freeman of pass-catching.
Obviously, everyone looks good in shorts and non-contact drills. However, there hasn't been this much positive buzz surrounding Bowe since the days he eclipsed 1,000 yards on a perennial basis. If that serves as a precedent of what to expect, his critics will sit this year out.
3. Mike Catapano, DE, No. 77
When the Chiefs drafted Mike Catapano, I watched two videos: one of his 2012 footage and another of him in the gym.
And after watching, I was left with two thoughts. First, this guy has a surprising amount of pass-rush moves, and second, he's really aggressive.
Catapano entered the NFL with the cards stacked against him. He was a 270-pound, Ivy League tweener with a retro four-point stance. Throughout his rookie season, the seventh-rounder occasionally showed flashes of promise, though.
Now, per Chuck Smith—former defensive end and Catapano's current trainer—the second-year edge-rusher (297) is pushing 300 pounds. And judging by the video, he hasn't lost a step.
Bless your soul, quarterbacks.
2. Sanders Commings, FS, No. 26
If John Madden went into a football laboratory and had scientists construct the ideal free safety skill set, it would look like...well, Brett Favre.
However, swap Madden with another football connoisseur, and the tangible traits would resemble those of Sanders Commings.
He's a 6'0", 223-pound—12 pounds heavier than Eric Berry—cornerback-turned-free safety who was drafted into the MLB as a center fielder. He hits like a wrecking ball and has 4.41 40-time speed. (To put that into perspective, Kendrick Lewis' combine 40 was 4.73 seconds; Berry's was 4.4.)
As The Kansas City Star's Terez Paylor notes, the second-year up-and-comer—who, due to injury, was limited to three snaps last year—is making his presence felt:
Reid on Sanders Commings: “He can cover a lot of ground.” #Chiefs— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) June 19, 2014
Sanders Commings had another interception today. Smith aired out a deep ball to Charles near the sideline and Commings went and got it.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) June 17, 2014
Basically, Commings, who was a reputed press-man corner at Georgia, is someone who can play any position in the secondary and hold his own.
Given that he's replacing Kendrick Lewis—who had one of the worst skill sets for a single-high safety imaginable—the position's production should skyrocket. The quicker he digests Bob Sutton's defense, the quicker he'll threaten Husain Abdullah for the starting job.
1. Allen Bailey, DE, No. 97
While Mike Catapano stands at the cusp of the 300 club, his teammate Allen Bailey is its newest inductee.
Now, a sliver of fans think that football players lift some weights, study a few plays and return home to dive into their money pool like Scrooge McDuck.
When you're a defensive linemen, there's a third element: force-feeding.
Nachos and a milk shake this late probably wasn't a good idea— Allen Bailey (@AllenBailey57) June 6, 2014
Bailey's timeline consists of three things: music, food and regret. But it's for a good cause.
With Tyson Jackson out of the picture and Vance Walker adjusting to life in a 3-4, Bailey, who's entering a contract season, looks like the opening-day starter. And in said 3-4, 280-odd-pound defensive ends tend to get rag-dolled in the run game.
Bailey? Not quite. In 2013, among 3-4 defensive ends who partook in a quarter of their defense's snaps, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Bailey No. 4 in run-stop percentage. He's roughly 10 to 15 pounds heavier now.
Make no mistake, though, pass rushing is still his modus operandi. In his final three seasons at Miami (Hurricanes), Bailey tallied 19 sacks and 31 tackles for loss despite starting only 27 of 38 games, which propelled him to the third round of the draft.
In 2013 he posted 19 hurries in 279 pass-rushing attempts (one per 14.7).
To give that perspective, Arizona's Calais Campbell—who had the most attempts in the NFL (614)—recorded one hurry per 15.4 pass-rushing downs. Jackson? One per 30.5...because he's Jackson and anything more would make you question life as you know it. (In Romeo Crennel's hyper-conservative 2012 defense, he hurried the passer once per 93 attempts. Baby steps.)
In other words, at some point in the near future, there's a chance you'll see another "Fire Pioli" banner in the sky. And since the Georgia Dome isn't retractable, there's a chance it will be at Arrowhead. Again.
Combine results provided by NFL Draft Scout. Contract information provided by Spotrac. Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference and Pro Football Focus.
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