The Kansas City Chiefs selected Auburn defensive end/outside linebacker, Dee Ford with the #23 pick in the NFL Draft Thursday night, adding more pass rushing power to their defense and providing insurance for the potential departures of linebackers Tamba Hali or Justin Houston in 2015.
Ford, 6-2, 240 pounds, was a first-team All-SEC player for Auburn last year at defensive end, but he is almost certainly going to play outside linebacker behind Hali and Houston in Kansas City. At his size and weight, NFL offensive tackles would swallow him whole if he played end.
Ford’s strengths as a player are his pass rush skills and his toughness and non-stop motor. Even his critics admit that his play as a pass rusher makes him a game-changer on defense. Anyone that watched the Chiefs defense play historically well in the first half of the 2013 season knows that it was their intimidating pass rush that set the tone. When the opposing quarterbacks got better and Houston went down with injury for the last six games, the defense couldn’t stop anything.
Ford’s weaknesses are his injury history (not good) and his ability to go out into pass coverage. He will obviously have to overcome his injury bug next season and he can be taught to play better in pass coverage as a linebacker and not a defensive end.
For Chiefs fans who watched the draft on television, the tension continued to build all night as Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel, continued to fall in the draft. The talking heads on television could barely contain their ecstasy as Manziel – the most polarizing player in the draft by far – was still sitting there when the Philadelphia Eagles were picking at #22.
KC fans were well aware that this club has literally never drafted and groomed a championship-caliber quarterback in the history of the franchise began to drool over the thought of Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner in college for the 2012 season, in a Chiefs jersey in 2014.
But it was not meant to be. With about two minutes left on their draft clock, the Eagles pulled off a trade with the draft’s busiest club, the Cleveland Browns, who traded spots with Philly and snatched Manziel away from KC. In a double-punch to the gut, Chiefs fans saw the Browns take Manziel and the Eagles walk away with Cleveland draft picks in a draft where the Chiefs do not have another pick until the #87 overall pick in the third round.
Following that up with what is perceived as a bit of a reach pick with Ford, Chiefs fans immediately took to Twitter to blast the franchise and the pick. At first glance, the selection of Ford was greeted by fans like someone with explosive diarrhea looks at a gas station microwave burrito. Less than thrilled.
However, the selection of Ford continues what appears to be a pattern for head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey, who use the draft like it is supposed to be used – drafting young and inexpensive talent to replace expensive veterans reaching the end of their contracts or careers in Kansas City.
Given the fact that Hali supposedly showed up to Arrowhead Stadium last Friday for a workout weighing 284 pounds – 20 pounds over his ideal playing weight – might have been the tipping point for Reid and Dorsey to make the move on Ford.
The Draft continues in New York City Friday night at 6 p.m. CT for rounds two and three.
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