Here are some observations at the conclusion of the Chiefs’ annual three-day rookie minicamp on Monday. I watched all three practices over the weekend, and took away some general thoughts. Just a reminder — I don’t see everything, and these are just my opinions. But I hope they help you set your initial expectations for this crop of rookies.
▪ This weekend, I saw why the Chiefs liked cornerback KeiVarae Russell so much in the third round. Not only is he an excellent athlete — general manager John Dorsey even called him an “A-score” athlete — Russell plays with lots of enthusiasm, emphasis on lots. He was talkative on the field, and demonstrative, too.
For instance, there was one play Monday where he settled into a zone, broke on a slant in front of him and knocked the ball out with his left hand. He was beat, but he recovered. He hopped to his feet, jumped in the air — imagine something similar to what Michael Strahan used to do with his whole “stomp you out” thing in 2008 — and let out a loud “whoooo.’” Fun stuff.
▪ The Chiefs got a really interesting player in sixth-round cornerback D.J. White. White looks bigger than his listed size of 5 feet 11, 193 pounds — his 31 1/2 -inch arms help him, here — and he seems to play the game with his eyes, as Dorsey might say. In other words, he reads and reacts to what’s happening in front of him quickly. He made another nice play on a downfield throw on Monday, leaping to deflect a pass beyond him with his right hand. My guess is the Chiefs can see the talent as well; by day two of the camp, he and Russell were the first-team cornerbacks.
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▪ Fourth-round cornerback Eric Murray is the odds-on favorite of the new cornerbacks to kick inside to safety. He logged a ton of work there on Monday — after serving as a second-team corner on Sunday — and received plenty of attention from secondary coach Al Harris. Murray has cornerback traits, and a cornerback build (5 feet 11, 199 pounds) but his toughness against the run and willingness to mix it up projects well at safety, even if he’s never played the position before (which he told me over the weekend).
▪ Fourth-round receiver Demarcus Robinson has a nice feel for the position. It’s hard to describe, but he has a natural ability to compete and come down with the football. I can’t wait to see how he does against an established corner like Marcus Peters; that will tell me how ready he is to contribute.
▪ Fifth-round quarterback Kevin Hogan has a long, unusual delivery, but he has nice touch on his passes and, by all accounts, is a very sharp guy who can handle the mental demands that Andy Reid places on his quarterbacks. Looking forward to seeing him compete with Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray for the top backup job.
▪ Fifth-round receiver Tyreek Hill definitely looks the part of a good kick returner. He’s got some bulk to him, his burst out of his cuts is outstanding, and it does not take him long to reach top speed, either. I’m looking forward to see what he looks like when the pads come on and guys are actually trying to tackle him. I do wonder what his selection means for De’Anthony Thomas and Knile Davis, two players who have certainly had their moments in special teams roles but also have some questions surrounding their status. The Chiefs shopped Davis in trade talks a few months ago, while the club has never explained Thomas’ absence the last month of the 2015 season, other than to say he was out for “personal reasons.”
▪ I’ll have to wait until training camp to give you any impressions of the offensive linemen, like Parker Ehinger, or pass rushers, like Chris Jones and Dadi Nicolas. There is simply not enough contact to gauge how good any of them are right now. I will say that Jones, especially, looks the part of a good defensive lineman, with an athletic build, long levers and powerful lower body.
Bonus thoughts: Chiefs coach Andy Reid is a tough dude. He stood for the entirety of all three practices, just a few months after knee replacement surgery. His leg was wrapped and he needed a cane, but kudos to Reid for leading from the front on that … Former Southern Methodist cornerback/safety Shak Randolph had a really nice day on Monday, deflecting away a pass and intercepting another. He is a big guy (6 feet 3, 213 pounds) with some athleticism. I see why the Chiefs liked him enough to sign him as an undrafted free agent … It was pretty cool to see former Blue Springs South running back Donnell Alexander — a son of Chiefs great Derrick Thomas — logging first-team reps on Monday ... Former Fresno State cornerback Shannon Edwards also showed out Monday, snagging two interceptions, including a diving one in front of Hill … Former East Carolina running back Chris Hairston had a nice catch in the corner of the end zone over 2016 sixth-round outside linebacker Dadi Nicolas … Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy is the best. On Monday, he loudly yelled “strike up the band!” on a touchdown catch by Hill. His voice carries, and it cracked up reporters standing 50-something yards away. It was amazing … I hope to see more of undrafted free agent Terrance Smith. He’s got an athletic build for his size, at 6 feet 2 and 235 pounds, and good athleticism. Too bad he was dealing with the flu this weekend, according to the team … Receiver Kashif Moore also had a nice touchdown catch in the end zone on Monday ... Brigham Young receiver Mitch Mathews also made a tough, diving touchdown catch near the sideline. He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at his pro day, but he does not have elite burst or quickness, so he often uses his frame (6 feet 5, 222 pounds) and ball skills to win.