With at least some slight questions surrounding the wide receiver position, parts of the offensive line, and defensive backfield, I can’t have been the only one who was a bit confused about why the Kansas City Chiefs used their first round pick on Auburn’s athletic specimen and pass rush specialist Dee Ford…right?
Ford’s game is far from complete. He came on at the end of the year for Auburn and really showed out at the Senior Bowl, where he was almost unstoppable. His bend around the edge has drawn some lofty comparisons to another Chiefs pass rusher and team legend — Derrick Thomas. That being said, I think Ford has a long way to go, but he does provide the Chiefs with a very interesting weapon defensively that can be used immediately.
Despite being slightly undersized for a defensive end role in the NFL, Ford is nearly the perfect build to play the rush linebacker position, which he will undoubtedly do for Kansas City. He is going to lose out on reps due to the talent of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, but there will be a place for Ford, carved out specifically by his skill set which is as a speed rusher with relentless motor and good length to be able to shed offensive linemen.
As a Senior at Auburn, Ford racked up 14.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 17 QB hurries, and two forced fumbles. He carried that momentum into the offseason, and showed incredible athletic ability at the Auburn pro day.
He looked the part of a first round pick, and as he concluded his final collegiate season, he played like it.
With the Chiefs, his main role is going to be helping get KC off the field on third downs defensively, and with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in the division, that was an option the Chiefs simply couldn’t pass on even with arguably more pressing needs.
When you look at what this guy was able to do against some of the top tackles in the country, namely Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi (to the tune of two sacks in crunch time) you start to get excited about his potential as an NFL player. And his role with the Chiefs will certainly grow if they choose to move on from or are forced to move on from one of Tamba Hali or Justin Houston for whatever reason (Houston is in a contract year).
This season, they can bring him along slowly and use him strictly as a pass rush specialist on third downs.
I don’t think this was an extremely high impact, home run pick by the Chiefs, but I love the player. Kansas City is obviously looking a bit to the future with this selection, ensuring they won’t have a shortage of players who can rush the passer no matter what happens with certain contract situations coming up.
I feel like Ford has the chance in the NFL to be a really good pass rusher, and he could develop into the type of guy that can play every down and be a force against the run. The only problem is, it seems like the chiseled Ford has maxed out his frame. He checked in at just over 250 pounds at the Scouting Combine, but he likely played his senior year in the 240-245 pound range.
All that said, this is a guy dedicated to his craft. He’s a well-respected teammate who knows his role. He has excellent explosiveness and acceleration off the snap and can get around the edge in a hurry. He has a solid advantage with long arms and big, strong hands, but his frame can cause him to get engulfed at times.
He has the skills to develop into a top flight speed pass rusher, and the Chiefs hope to see some of that right away as a rookie.