Chiefs

Five names Chiefs fans should watch at the NFL Combine

320-pound lineman lands perfect backflip at Senior Bowl practice

Western Illinois defensive lineman Khalen Saunders nailed a perfect backflip after Senior Bowl practice Tuesday.
Up Next
Western Illinois defensive lineman Khalen Saunders nailed a perfect backflip after Senior Bowl practice Tuesday.

The next phase of the offseason is here: the NFL Scouting Combine.

With eight picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Chiefs will be mining for prospects in Indianapolis. Chiefs coach Andy Reid speaks on Wednesday afternoon and general manager Brett Veach talks on Thursday morning.

Until then, here’s a couple players from the more than 300 participants that the Chiefs could be keeping close tabs on throughout the week.

RB David Montgomery: The Iowa State product had an explosive college career, recording back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons in his final two years in Ames. The 5-foot-11, 219-pound back is a shifty player, forcing an FBS-best 109 missed tackles in 2017. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Montgomery could be a Day 1 starter and praised him for his “vision, patience and stop-start quickness.” The Chiefs have a solid starter in Damien Williams and a potentially steady back up in Darrel Williams, but the stable of backs is a little depleted beyond that. Look for the Chiefs to be closely evaluating the running backs in Indianapolis.

Montgomery and the rest of the running backs will go through on-field workouts on Friday. You can follow along on NFL Network and ABC.

Other running backs to watch: Justice Hill (Oklahoma State), Ryquell Armstead (Temple), Jalin Moore (Appalachian State), Elijah Holyfield (Georgia).

S Johnathan Abram: It’s no secret the Chiefs have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. Look for that to be a need the team addresses early, and it could be with this Mississippi State safety. ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. called Abram one of the best 15-20 pure football players in this year’s draft and said the 5-11, 207 pound player is NFL ready. Though Eric Berry is under contract, his vague injury status makes his future with the team unclear. Picking up a safety with their first-round pick would bring some much-needed stability to the Chiefs’ secondary.

CB Byron Murphy: The Chiefs could also choose to use the first-round pick on a cornerback, and Murphy would be a good one to target. The Washington product was a major playmaker, recording seven interceptions in two seasons. At 5-11, 180, he’s a little undersized for the position, but he has natural instincts that make up for his physical shortcomings. The combine should give Murphy a good platform to show off his fast-twich skills and impress teams like the Chiefs. Murphy may be off the board by the time the Chiefs make their selection with the No. 29 pick, but he’s still worth keeping an eye on.

Abram and Murphy will work out with the rest of the defensive backs on Monday, televised on NFL Network.

Other DBs to watch: CB Deandre Baker (Georgia), S Chauncy Gardner-Johnson (Florida), S Nasir Adderley (Delaware), S Juan Thornhill (Virginia), CB Corey Ballentine (Washburn).

OL Dru Samia: Samia, a four-year starter at Oklahoma, didn’t give up a sack in 2018 was was picked as the Big 12’s offensive lineman of the year. Samia was versatile in college, playing both right guard and right tackle, and he blocked for two Heisman winners in quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. The Chiefs’ offensive line was pretty solid throughout the season, but there is room for improvement in the interior. Adding a player like Samia, who has the versatility of a guy like Cam Erving, would bolster the group. Samia was a fiery player in college, even getting ejected during a game his junior year for throwing a punch.

The offensive linemen will take part in on-field drills on Friday.

Other offensive linemen to watch: Connor McGovern (Penn State), Nate Davis (Charlotte), Garrett Bradbury (N.C. State), Michael Jordan (Ohio State).

DT Khalen Saunders: The Western Illinois man grabbed headlines at the Senior Bowl when his fiancee gave birth to their daughter while he was in Mobile, Ala. Before that, he attracted attention for his talent of doing backflips. Though the 6-0, 318-pounds lineman hails from a smaller school, he’s an under-the-radar prospect worth paying attention to. As a freshman, the St. Louis native recorded 27 tackles, 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks as a backup. He was chosen an AP FCS second-team All-American in 2018 for posting 41 solo tackles, 13 for loss and 6 1/2 sacks. His frame is more squatty than most defensive linemen, but he could still interest the Chiefs as a nose tackle in a 4-3 defense.

Saunders will take the field Sunday for on-field workouts.

Other defensive linemen to watch: Ed Oliver (Houston), Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Zach Allen (Boston College)

Also: There are a couple of intriguing prospects who are unlikely to participate in drills but may still be in play for the Chiefs when the NFL Draft rolls around in late April. Keep an eye on Alabama safety Deionte Thompson, who had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist last week, according to a report from NFL Network, and Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson, who is still rehabbing from a ACL torn in the second game of the season.

Don't have a KC Star subscription? Help support our sports coverage

If you already subscribe to The Star, thanks for your support. If not, our digital sports-only subscription is just $30 per year. It's your ticket to everything sports in Kansas City ... and beyond, and helps us produce sports coverage like this.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.

  Comments