Chiefs news for 8 May 2019
2018: Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Dorian O’Daniel, Terrance Smith, Ben Niemann
2019: Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Dorian O’Daniel, Damien Wilson, Ben Niemann
This group is largely the same as it was a year ago, so the real hope for improvement comes not from the players but from the scheme. Hitchens played significantly worse in Kansas City than he had the previous several years of his career, proving to be a fish out of water in Sutton’s system. Ragland took a step back as well, in part due to lingering injuries. O’Daniel was the only linebacker who didn’t consistently draw the ire of Chiefs fans last year, though his role was limited mostly to passing downs. Niemann has potential but is more hope than substance at this point.
With the Chiefs shifting their scheme, the important factor isn’t the move from a 3-4 to a 4-3, as most defenses spend only about a quarter of their snaps in their base defense. Instead, the hope for improvement comes from the role linebackers are asked to play in Spagnuolo’s defense. Rather than being asked to sit back and react, they should have more of an attacking role. This suits Hitchens in particular much better than his previous role in Sutton’s scheme.
3. Safety Andrew Soroh is versatile, lining up at both defensive back and linebacker at Florida Atlantic
Soroh was a hybrid of sorts for the Owls, playing safety and linebacker over his four years with the team. He discussed that versatility with the folks at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel prior to the 2018 campaign, when he was asked to shift his primary focus from safety to linebacker.
“You have to embrace everything, no matter what position I play,” Soroh said. “I’m just excited to play this game, play this sport.”
The six-foot-two, 210-pound Soroh racked up 56 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks as a redshirt senior last season.
“I am very proud to be one of the first ambassadors for the NFL Academy in the UK.” Mahomes said in an NFL news release. “My foundation — 15 and the Mahomies — we work to give young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, greater opportunities in life. The NFL Academy’s objective in combining football and education to do just that is something I am very excited about playing a role in. I can’t wait to see it get started,. and I look forward to getting over to London to contribute in its success.”
The program, which will educate about 80 students ages 16-18 in its first class, aims to give students a path to employment, further education and the potential opportunity to play NCAA football.
“The Academy is a first-of-its kind initiative that will deliver three key elements: education, character development and football,” NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood said in the release. “The inspiration for the idea was our long-term partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. As well as playing games at the new stadium, we had a desire to create something meaningful for the community on a year-round basis.”
LB Jamie Collins, Kansas City Chiefs
Unless the Patriots bring back their old friend or the Baltimore Ravens get creative to replace C.J. Mosley, Collins seems like the kind of luxury upgrade Andy Reid would love to give Steve Spagnuolo. Kansas City’s LB situation isn’t insanely bad, but with some money to spare, they can afford to find a place for Collins, especially since LB was the one position the Chiefs didn’t address in the draft. They’ve already been aggressive to upgrade the defense, so why not finish it off? Collins got paid. Now he can contend.
1. Juan Thornhill is every bit as advertised
The play of safety Juan Thornhill—the rookie second-round pick of our Virginia—was one of the easiest things to notice throughout the weekend.
Thornhill, who was dubbed as a ballhawk with 13 career interceptions in college, had a diving interception in his first professional practice on Saturday, and was all over the place and looking like he was in complete control of what was going on with the defense throughout the weekend. He was communicating with the linebackers and cornerbacks pre-snap and showing no signs of being hesitant as a vocal voice that backed it up with his playmaking ability.
Based on these three practices, Thornhill is the player that fans should keep their eyes on as we head towards OTAs next week and then training camp in July.
“Every day he got his hands on the ball,” Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid noted of Thornhill. “Every day. He almost had one here in the red zone (on Monday). It looks like he’s got a pretty good feel for things. He’s got a little bit of a knack there. Good worker, smart, but again, you have to have that feel back there and he seems to have that.”
Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback
Dee Ford’s ill-timed neutral-zone infraction received the bulk of the blame for the Chiefs falling short of Super Bowl LIII, but their secondary’s inability to stop Patriots pass catchers played a significant role. The Chiefs remain vulnerable on the back end.
Their interception leader last season, Steven Nelson, departed in free agency. On the heels of a value-sapping 2018, Bashaud Breeland is in line to replace him. Unless Tremon Smith (sixth round, 2018), Charvarius Ward (undrafted, 2018) or Alliance of American Football refugee Keith Reaser show extensive development, the three-time reigning AFC West champions need to consider outside help.
Patrick Mahomes will no longer be on his rookie contract in 2020. The roster math becomes more complicated after this season, especially with Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu and, soon, Chris Jones attached to top-market deals. Kansas City needs to do everything possible to stack the roster this year, and the Chiefs are certainly not stacked at corner.
More than 700 students gathered in the gym at Platte City Middle School last Friday for an afternoon of games, activities and some words of advice from two members of the Kansas City Chiefs.
It was all part of the NFL’s Character Playbook LIVE program – an initiative that strives to equip young people with the tools they need to lead a successful life – as cornerback Charvarius Ward and wide receiver Byron Pringle spoke about their upbringing, answered questions and even challenged the kids to an impromptu push-up competition.
There were laughs, autographs and high-fives abound.
“I love giving back to the kids. Just seeing the smile on their faces makes it all worth it,” Pringle said. “I never met an NFL player when I was young, so I just loving doing stuff like this.”
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