Money Aside Johnson is ready to get on the Field

The best is yet to come for the Kansas City Chiefs. You can talk about all the free agent additions and trades since March but none is as exciting as drafting linebacker Derrick Johnson in the first round of the NFL draft.

His Head Coach thinks he can be whatever he wants to be in the NFL and his President doesn't care how he makes plays; as long as he makes them. How exciting is that if you're a Chiefs fan. And how lucky are we to be in a position as fans to catch a rising star in our own backyard.

In the NFL legends are born based on their play on the field. In Kansas City we've had some of the games greatest linebackers to ever play this game suit up in a Chiefs uniform. Players like Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier and the late Derrick Thomas. Each had their own style and intensity to say the least and some day Derrick Johnson will be his own man. For now, he's about to embark on an NFL career, that could be one for the ages or more importantly one for the next generation of Chiefs fans.

Since he was drafted back in April, the entire Chiefs nation has crossed their fingers, clicked their heals and held there breath that a player as special as Derrick Johnson really fell into the Chiefs lap with the 15th overall pick. An equal amount of them felt something different when Johnson did not make the trip to River Falls, Wisconsin last Wednesday.

But this was an unusual year for the 2005 draftees because of the current state of the CBA. Thus players like Derrick Johnson and the rest of the first round draft picks had to wait until some of the top picks signed. But Johnson knew sooner or later the deal would get done and that happened on Sunday afternoon.

Later today, Johnson will take his rightful place on the field for the first time as an official member of the Kansas City Chiefs. Granted he's a few days behind players like Keyaron Fox and Scott Fujita who are all competing for a starting spot opposite Kendrell Bell but that shouldn't matter to a player as gifted as Johnson.

After all Johnson worked in every OTA session and attended both Mini-Camps for the rookies and veterans. So missing a few practices won't cost him a shot a starting position nor hurt his chances of being on the field September 11th as a reserve.

One thing that won't hinder his chances to make plays this season will be those nagging questions about his lack of strength. Johnson need not worry about that. All he has to do is make plays anyway that he can. Chiefs fans don't care if he runs through people or around them. As long as he gets to the man with the ball and stops him; who cares how he does it.

As many of you know, I've been a Chiefs fan since birth and I've never been more excited about a rookie since I was a tiny tot to say the least. No disrespect to some stellar first round draft picks in the teams 45 year history but Johnson is different. He has a confidence and a focus that is rare amongst college players his age. He's entering into the biggest football arena in the NFL and playing in front of arguably one of the greatest and rabid fan bases in all of sports. Playing at the University of Texas, Johnson played in front of adoring fans but I don't think it can be compared to playing at Arrowhead.

It's far too early to tell if Derrick Johnson will start and quite honestly it doesn't really matter right now because his presence on this roster makes this Chiefs team better. He's already gained respect from his defensive teammates who marvel at his talent and maturity at such an early age.

And that says more than anything else about someone who has never taken a single snap in the National Football League. Now all DJ has to do is live up those expectations. That quest begins today in River Falls.