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It was day number four for the Chiefs in OTA sessions, but day one for the media. With KC’s draft picks, free agents and un-drafted college players in the house, we saw first hand why the organization is so excited about the youth movement. In this report we look at the players who stood out.
QB Tyler Thigpen - If anyone thinks Thigpen is ready to challenge Brodie Croyle for the starting job, think again. He really struggled in drills today and even with no pass rush, had a difficult time finding any rhythm whatsoever. Right now he’s the third quarterback behind Damon Huard.
QB Brodie Croyle - Sharp, crisp and looking like someone who believes he’s a starting NFL quarterback. Today he had a swagger that was missing last year. I talked to Croyle after practice and he seems assured of his position on the team. He also told me to forget about the supposed “simplicity” of the team’s new offense. He has plenty of challenges ahead to get everything down, but it will fit his style.
KR Kevin Robinson - Forget the slow 40 time he ran at the NFL combine. He showed off his skills in special teams drills today by waiting until the right opening formed for him to make his move up the field. He did drop a ball, but will certainly be the guy returning punts this year. The jury is out on kickoffs.
RB Jamaal Charles - You can’t coach speed, and as Herm Edwards said after Thursday’s workout, “He’s faster than we thought.” What shocked me about Charles was how well he’s built. The Chiefs still want him to put on about five to six pounds, which might negate a portion of his speed, but he’ll receive plenty of playing time this season.
OG Chris McDuffie - To me, the best guard on the field Thursday. He was blowing up everyone in his path. Right now he’s second-team behind former Jets tackle Adrian Jones, who is trying to make the switch to guard. McDuffie has a mean streak and I absolutely loved the way he finished off his blocks. He drove players into the ground before looking for someone else to hit. He could end up a starter for this team now that Damion McIntosh is playing right tackle.
DE Johnny Dingle - Another college free agent the Chiefs did their homework on, making Dingle a top priority after the draft. He was quick getting to the backfield Thursday and he’s a strong man. I really liked his attitude. The down side is he’s only 265 pounds at the moment. He might need to add eight to 10 pounds.
DT Derek Lokey - If you listened to our most recent Podcast with Chuck Cook, you know why he and the defensive coaches are high on Lokey. He’s already in the mix as one of the team’s four best interior defensive linemen. Ron Edwards and Glenn Dorsey are the starters, so that means Lokey will line up next to Tank Tyler. After watching him today, I can’t believe he wasn’t drafted.
G Adrian Jones - He’s the starter at right guard at the moment, but he was stiff Thursday and he also didn’t finish his blocks. Though he’s listed at 296 pounds, he played heavy. He was not light on his feet and struggled against Edwards and Dorsey. It’s early, but I’m not sure if this experiment is going to pay off.
DT Glenn Dorsey - Simply put, he was unstoppable today. He ate up All-Pro guard Brian Waters. It was a mismatch. People don’t realize how strong Dorsey is, but what makes him great is that his technique is already at the NFL level. There isn’t any doubt he was the best college defender in the country this year, and my take early on is that he’ll be the best rookie NFL defender this season. Dorsey thanked us for putting him on the cover of our latest magazine issue.
WR Jeff Webb - Another young player who is battling for a starting spot on the offensive side of the ball. He looked better than free agent Devard Darling. Webb appeared bigger and faster than last year and played with confidence. I loved the way he ran routes today.
TE John Paul Foschi - I could not understand why the Chiefs signed another tight end (Foschi is from Georgia Tech, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s former school, so that might explain it) but Foschi can catch the ball. In fact, all of the tight ends outside of Michael Merritt (who I think may end up as a fullback), were great Thursday. Tony Gonzalez was outstanding while Michael Allan and Brad Cottam, the Chiefs’ third-round pick, were all over the field catching the ball. Foschi stood out because I didn’t think he would be in the mix. Look for him to find a spot on the practice field. Kansas City’s offense will feature plenty of two tight end sets this year.
LB Steve Octavian - On special teams, he was outstanding - he can run and tackles wells. I think he has a shot to make this team. His torpedo mentality could be a huge boon for the special teams. He was the best defensive player at Nebraska last year and I would not be shocked if he is KC’s starting middle linebacker in 2009 if Gunther Cunningham can’t get Napoleon Harris to play better.
DE Brian Johnston - Some NFL draft boards had him rated as a fifth-round guy, and after watching him today and talking with Cunningham, Johnston is a keeper and a steal in the seventh round. He looks like Jared Allen, not just in his build, but his three-point stance is similar. How every NFL team passed on him in the late rounds is mind-boggling. He has the goods this year to start for the Chiefs.