During a visit to Arrowhead Stadium during the draft process, Illinois State tight end James O’Shaughnessy couldn’t help but marvel at the Chiefs’ 80,000-seat home.
O’Shaughnessy has never attended a game at Arrowhead, but he’s eager for that to change after he was chosen with the Chiefs’ second of two fifth-round picks, No. 173 overall, on Saturday in the NFL Draft.
“Once I saw Arrowhead Stadium, I saw the 80,000 seats, I got ecstatic,” said O’Shaughnessy, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound native of Naperville, Ill. “Because, obviously, I have never played in anything near that big. It’s a beautiful place and I can only imagine what it looks like filled up with 80,000 raving fans. I’m very excited.”
The Redbirds’ home, Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill., has a capacity of 9,500.
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The largest crowd O’Shaughnessy, 23, ever played in front of was 20,918 at the Football Championship Subdivision title game Jan. 10 against North Dakota State at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
O’Shaughnessy didn’t even have a draft party. He was in the basement at his family home when the Chiefs called to deliver the good news.
“Truthfully, from being a small-school guy, I was just hoping to get an opportunity,” O’Shaughnessy said.
The Chiefs acknowledge that O’Shaughnessy is raw, but laud his athleticism — he ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash at Northwestern’s Pro Day — and potential upside.
“What jumps out is he’s got some speed and big-play ability,” Chiefs area scout Terry Delp said. “He averaged 18 yards per catch, which is really unusual for a tight end. Really good hands, very competitive, very tough kid. He’s got run-after-the-catch instincts too.”
O’Shaughnessy caught 544 passes with a team-high nine touchdowns last season, averaging 18.8 yards per reception. He caught two touchdowns in the FCS title game, a 29-27 loss to the four-time reigning champion Bison.
Playing on a coverage unit, O’Shaughnessy actually knocked himself out making a block in that game.
“Special teams, the kid is great — one of the first guys down every time,” Delp said. “In the North Dakota State game, he knocked himself out. He was running down and ear-holed the linebacker. This dude’s just 100 miles an hour — competitive, tough dude.”
Making such a leap in competition, O’Shaughnessy will need to be coaching up, especially on inline blocking, to be a complete player for the Chiefs.
“Blocking, he’s really competitive and tough and he does enough, but he’s got legitimate upside there,” Delp said. “That’s an exciting part of it, too.”
O’Shaughnessy — who expected to play college basketball growing up before drawing no interest from NCAA Division I hoops teams — understands the battle he faces, but vowed that “every day I am going to fight and scratch to make sure that I can be part of a roster and contribute to a winning team.”
In other picks, the Chiefs selected cornerback Marcus Peters in the first round with the 18th overall selection Thursday.
On Friday, they picked Missouri guard Mitch Morse in the second round (49th overall), Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley with the 12th pick in the third round (76th overall) after trading a sixth-round pick to Minnesota, and Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson with the 34th pick in the third round (98th overall).
On Saturday, they drafted Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson in the fourth round (No. 118 overall) and then Oregon State linebacker D.J. Alexander and O’Shaughnessy with back-to-back compensation picks in the fifth round. They took Southern Miss defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches in sixth round (217th overall). With their final pick, in the seventh round, they drafted Northern Illinois receiver Da’Ron Brown (233rd overall).
Chiefs’ fifth-round pick
▪ WHO: Tight end James O’Shaughnessy
▪ PICK: Round five (173rd overall)
▪ SCHOOL: Illinois State
▪ HEIGHT: 6-4
▪ WEIGHT: 235 pounds
▪ PRO DAY STATS: 4.68-second 40-yard dash. 16 bench reps. 35-inch vertical. 116-inch broad jump. 7.20-second three-cone drill. 4.38-second 20-yard shuttle.
▪ HOW HE FITS: The Chiefs released veteran Anthony Fasano and didn’t replace him in free agency, so O’Shaughnessy makes sense as a developmental prospect behind Travis Kelce and Demeterius Harris.