Chiefs upgrade backfield with Charles

Ronald Martinez - Getty

The Chiefs had a clear objective today - they wanted to draft good football players that fit the system. We know that new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is going to run the ball, and that's why with the first of three picks in the third round, Kansas City selected Texas running back Jamaal Charles.

You never turn down good football players when you get a chance to select them. Charles is one of the better running backs in this year's draft class, and also one of the fastest.

In three seasons at Texas he ran for 3,328 yards, including 1,619 last season. He clocked in a blazing speed of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and might be someone who can return kicks for the Chiefs.

Coach Herm Edwards indicated that was a possibility, but the bottom line is that Charles can score touchdowns and is elusive in open spaces. He's also up for the challenge of competing for playing time despite the fact the Chiefs have Larry Johnson on the roster.

"I'm going to push him and he can push me," said Charles. "We'll make each other better. I know it will be exciting for me but I guess he would like somebody to push him, too. I'm glad I got picked by Kansas City because it's not far from home and it's a great place. I'm just ready to rock and roll."

The primary thing Charles will bring to Kansas City's backfield is speed. At Texas, where Charles was the fastest player on the team, Longhorns football coach Mack Brown described his former running back's speed as "world-class."

"He was so fast in high school, he could outrun people, and he had some of that here as a freshman and sophomore," said Brown. "But last season about mid-season, he found out the quickest way to the goal line was straight ahead.

"I can separate from people," said Charles. "Many people don't think I can break tackles, but I can break tackles. They just never saw me playing before. I've got good speed and can run around people and once I get open in a seam, I can always break for a long run when I get past the second level."

Smith obviously won't start this year, but will compete with last year's fifth-round pick, Kolby Smith, for playing time behind Johnson.

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