The days immediately following the NFL Draft are, essentially, the season of hope.
Newly signed free agents, flush with cash, are working themselves into the fold. Hand-picked draft selections, dripping with potential, represent the newest purveyors of promise. And no one has stepped onto the field yet, which means the high hopes for all remain intact.
So it should come as no surprise that you can add the Chiefs and general manager John Dorsey to the long list of league executives and coaches who proudly declared that this year’s group has been strengthened heading into organized team activities.
“I do think we’re better,” Dorsey said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “I think as we go into (training camp at) St. Joe now, I think that we have a team that we can compete; we can compete in the AFC West, and that is all you can ask for.
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“I think we’ve created depth, I think we’ve created competition at roster spots and in this position now, everybody is going to feel good in the National Football League. But you know what? I feel pretty good, too.”
Especially about his nine-player draft haul, which swells to 10 if you include two-time Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs, who was acquired from New Orleans for a fifth-round pick that turned into Fresno State nose tackle Tyeler Davidson.
“We did the process like we do every year. We did it in steps and we analyzed and at the end of the day, we built that draft board,” Dorsey said. “I know you all don’t like to hear this, but the way that board peels off truly was a credit to the organization, the scouting department, for getting that thing right.
In other words, Dorsey said, the Chiefs did not reach at specific positions, and they did not draft for need.
“From (pick No.) 18 to 233, that was the guy,” Dorsey said. “That’s how it worked and it was a thing of beauty. I marveled at it.”
In that group, Dorsey said, there are several players whose passion on the field is obvious. First-round pick Marcus Peters was kicked off his college team at Washington in November after repeated issues with the Huskies’ coaching staff. But on the field, he is a passionate, demonstrative player who clearly loves football.
“I don’t want to get rid of any of that competitiveness, I don’t want to back him off from bump‐and‐run, I love the way he plays it — he’s going to get up and challenge you,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Is there going to be a penalty for that? Yeah, there’s going to be a penalty. He’s going to get up and he’s going to bring it to you; he’s a physical player, a tremendous tackler. He’s a heck of a player.”
Reid and Dorsey seem confident Peters will be able to manage his temper, something Peters understands he must do.
“He has to keep his emotions intact, and I think he’ll do that,” Reid said. “He’s not a problem off the field; that’s not what he is. He’s not a problem in your locker room; that’s not what he is. He’s smart; it’s just those competitive juices — you have to know how to control those.”
Second-round pick Mitch Morse, an offensive lineman out of Missouri, and third-round pick Steven Nelson, a cornerback out of Oregon State, also show flashes of edge and aggressiveness on tape.
“I don’t like to use the word ‘edge,’” Dorsey said. “The words that I like to use is that they love the game of football. They are competitive guys. That’s what this game of football is about. If you love the game and you’re competitive, you are going to work at your trait. That’s all that you can ask for and these guys love football.”
Dorsey and the Chiefs’ area scouts also praised the on-field effort level of their other six selections: Georgia receiver Chris Conley, Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson, Oregon State linebacker D.J. Alexander, Illinois State tight end James O’Shaughnessy, Southern Mississippi defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Northern Illinois receiver Da’Ron Brown.
Dorsey is confident they will be good fits in a locker room that is filled with players who love the game to a similar degree, and will show them how to become pros.
The Chiefs’ rookie minicamp begins May 16-18, but the process of assimilating these rookies into the Chiefs’ culture begins now.
“It starts with the leadership of the veteran players,” Dorsey said. “It comes to a point where I’ve seen all good teams … those veterans say, ‘Ok here’s our standard.’ Then, basically, they challenge the young guys to get up to speed as quickly as they possibly can to understand what the goal at task is.
“The goal is to capture the AFC West — it’s to be competitive and to go into playoffs. You have to have that type of mindset. Therefore, when you have veteran leadership in that locker room pushing the young guys to get better, teaching them to get better. They buy into the family aspect that we talk about; they buy into we’re all in this thing together.”