In the first two days of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Chiefs diligently addressed positions of need. So it’s only fitting that the third day of the draft brought more of the same.
On Saturday, the Chiefs — who had five draft picks at their disposal — selected inside linebackers Ramik Wilson of Georgia and D.J. Alexander of Oregon State, tight end James O’Shaughnessy of Illinois State, nose tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches of Southern Mississippi and receiver Da’Ron Brown of Northern Illinois.
The haul brought the final tally for the Chiefs to two receivers, two inside linebackers, two corners, a center, a defensive end and a tight end — a concentrated effort to beef up widely understood weak spots.
Take, for instance, the decision to draft Washington cornerback Marcus Peters in the first round.
Although Peters was dismissed from his team after repeatedly clashing with the new coaching staff, the Chiefs believed enough in his talent — which they felt was top-10 worthy — to invest the 18th overall pick on him, a decision Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt was fine with, given the research they did on Peters and their lack of established bodies at cornerback.
“In the preparation for the draft, the weeks leading up to it, (general manager) John (Dorsey) mentioned to me that he thought Marcus might be a player who would be available who he would have interest in,” Hunt said. “And he said ‘Look, here’s the situation, here’s what happened. We’re continuing to do more work on it, but at this point, I’m comfortable with it.’
“And they continued to do the work … so when we got around to the draft Thursday night, we talked about it again, and he said ‘Look, we’re good. I feel our support structure here is great and he would not be a problem.’ So he did talk to me about it. Ultimately, it’s still John’s decision. But anytime there is a decision like that, he’ll talk to me about it.”
The Chiefs’ decision to draft Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson — another passionate, feisty cornerback who loves football — was no coincidence, either, given they help they needed there.
“I think at certain positions, it’s helpful to have that passion,” Hunt said. “And I know coach Reid is a big believer in that. He likes to let the players show their emotion. Now, at the same time, he balances that with he doesn’t want players who are doing things that are gonna cause us to lose the game by making stupid mistakes on the field.”
In much the same way Peters’ and Nelson’s styles are similar, the same can be said for Wilson and Alexander, two high-effort inside linebackers the team believes can run and hit.
So intent were the Chiefs on improving the competition at this position — which played a role in them having the 28th-ranked run defense in 2014 — that they invested their fourth-round pick (118th overall) on Wilson, and came right back in the fifth round and selected Alexander with their next pick (172nd overall).
The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Wilson, who ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at his pro day, was a two-year starter for Georgia. He led the Bulldogs in tackles in 2013 with 133 and had 110 tackles (10 for losses), three sacks, one interception and one pass deflection in 13 games in 2014.
“This is a big guy that can run and hit,” said assistant director of college scouting Dom Green. “With coach (Gary) Gibbs coaching him up, teaching him all those things, there’s no question we see him as a three-down guy.”
Area scout Trey Koziol had a similar take about the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Alexander, a three-year starter who was not invited to the combine but posted a 4.55 40-yard dash at his pro day and finished his senior season at Oregon State with 70 tackles (12 for losses).
“I think first and foremost, this kid has outstanding speed,” Koziol said. “He’s got some rare physical traits just getting from point A to point B on the field. He made a lot of plays for them.”
So did the 6-foot-4, 245-pound O’Shaughnessy, who caught 29 passes for 544 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014 for Illinois State and was taken back-to-back with Alexander (173rd overall).
The Chiefs released veteran Anthony Fasano this offseason and did not replace him, which means O’Shaughnessy could have a chance to earn a roster spot behind incumbents Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris.
“He’s got some speed and big-play ability,” said area scout Terry Delp. “Really good hands, very competitive, very tough kid, Got some run-after-the-catch instincts, too. He’s a small-school kid, so he is kind of raw … (when) blocking he is really competitive and tough and he does enough, but he’s got legitimate upside there so that’s a part of it, too.”
The Chiefs also added depth to the nose-tackle position with the addition of Nunez-Roches, who was taken in the sixth round (217th overall) checked in at 6 feet 2 and 307 pounds at the NFL Combine and is a three-year starter who recorded 58 tackles, 14 for losses, three sacks and seven quarterback hurries in 2014.
“This is an explosive guy,” Green said. “You see the speed in him, you see the effort. Really, when you watch Rakeem play, you can feel his passion, his energy come off the tape.”
Brown — who was taken with the Chiefs’ final pick in the seventh round (233rd overall) — figures to add more depth and competition to a wide-receiving corps that failed to record a single touchdown reception last season.
Given the unit’s struggles last season, it was a fitting end to a draft in which the Chiefs tried to address needs in a big way.