It’s a good thing that the Chiefs rookies haven’t gone on vacation yet, because the 2010 draft class looks to be in line for an abundant amount of game action this season.
The entire rookie class, not just the draft picks, continues to work out each morning at the Chiefs Training Facility. Joined by a handful of veterans still in town, rookie strength and conditioning sessions are scheduled to go on through Friday, July 9th.
Being able to hit the ground running in St. Joseph isn’t an option, it’s mandatory for this draft class. The group as a whole finished their on-field work this off-season poised for playing time. This group has the potential to rival the 2008 draft class for the most first-year game action of any draft class that the Chiefs have brought in over the past decade.
Let’s take a look at where each of the Chiefs 2010 draft picks currently stand…
Eric Berry –He hasn’t wrestled up a starting role just yet, but the Chiefs first-rounder didn’t relinquish the honors when he was awarded first-team snaps midway through OTAs. Berry will have to earn his way as a starter by showing he knows the ins-and-outs of the defensive playbook during training camp. Athleticism isn’t a question. If Berry can convince the Chiefs coaching staff that he’s ready to quarterback the secondary, then #29 will be lined up along the back line on Monday Night Football September 13th.
Dexter McCluster – It doesn’t matter how many games McCluster starts in 2010. He could very well play in all 16 games without starting a single one of them. What we do know, is that the Chiefs will use him in a multitude of ways from week to week. He’s a player who can fit into multiple personnel groupings at multiple positions and we already caught a glimpse of that part of his game during OTA and mini-camp sessions. When the 2010 season is all said and done, McCluster will likely have lined up at wide out, slot, running back, wildcat and return man.
Javier Arenas – Arenas looks poised to make a run at the primary nickel duties for the 2010 defense. The Chiefs coaching staff gave Arenas plenty of looks in the defensive backfield this off-season and he’s also one of the leading candidates to handle duties in the return game. There are plenty of plans for the Chiefs second of two second round picks.
Jon Asamoah – Both of Kansas City’s starters at guard appear to be sturdy in their role – Brian Waters on the left and Ryan Lilja on the right. However, behind those starters is plenty of competition. Asamoah is in the mix for top reserve duties along the interior offensive line and he’ll certainly benefit from working under two established veterans currently ahead of him. Asamoah and his day in the spotlight could come sooner rather than later.
There is still the thought that Asamoah could also develop into a center (he practiced at the position, but did not appear there in any games at Illinois), but he devoted the majority of his work this off-season to learning the guard position in Kansas City. We’ll have to see how this situation develops at training camp.
Tony Moeaki – He showed up well in both rookie mini-camp and veteran mini-camp, but missed most of the action in between with a “minor injury.” If he’s healthy, Moeaki looks to be in line for a lot of playing time at tight end. Even if he doesn’t win the starting honors, Moeaki and incumbent starter Leonard Pope each bring different strengths to the table that the Chiefs can utilize in offensive game plans.
Kendrick Lewis – Lewis may not be a starter on Opening Day, but the Chiefs seem committed to at least giving the 5th round pick a long look at a position wide open with competition. He repped alongside fellow rookie Eric Berry with the first-team throughout a hefty portion of OTAs and we’ll likely see more of the same in St. Joe.
Committing to a pair of rookie starters at a position with slim margin for error isn’t for the faint of heart, but even if Lewis doesn’t begin the season as a starter he’ll probably see plenty of snaps. In addition to his defensive skills, Lewis brings an extensive special teams background with him that featured a pair of blocked kicks last season at Ole Miss. He’s a shoe-in for plenty of looks all over the field this pre-season.
Cameron Sheffield – Can he run and hit? If so, he’ll find himself on the same coverage units that rookie LBs Jovan Belcher and Pierre Walters found themselves on a year ago. With established players like Mike Vrabel and Tamba Hali at his position and an emerging Andy Studebaker also in the mix, the Chiefs have the luxury of giving Sheffield time to develop.
The process of developing, however, doesn’t mean that Shefflied won’t see the field in 2010. Sometimes the best way to develop at the next level is with live game action; just ask Studebaker.
For the sake of comparison, the past five Chiefs draft classes churned out the following play-time as rookie players.
2009 Draft Class
DE Tyson Jackson – 16 games played (14 starts)
DE Alex Magee – 15 games played (1 start)
DB Donald Washington – 8 games played
T Colin Brown – 0 games played
WR Quinten Lawrence – 6 games played (1 start)
RB Javarris Williams – 4 games played
TE Jake O’Connell – 4 games played (2 starts)
K Ryan Succop – 16 games played
2008 Draft Class
DT Glenn Dorsey – 16 starts
T Branden Albert – 15 starts
CB Brandon Flowers – 14 games played (13 starts)
RB Jamaal Charles – 16 games played (2 starts)
TE Brad Cottam – 16 games played (7 starts)
S DaJuan Morgan – 15 games played
WR Will Franklin – 13 games played (one start)
CB Brandon Carr – 16 starts
T Barry Richardson – 6 games played
WR Kevin Robinson – 8 games played
DE Brian Johnston – 9 games played
TE Michael Merritt – 0 games played
2007 Draft Class
WR Dwayne Bowe – 16 games played (15 starts)
DE Turk McBride – 16 games played (1 start)
DT Tank Tyler – 15 games played (1 start)
RB Kolby Smith – 16 games played (6 starts)
K Justin Medlock – 1 game played
T Herb Taylor – 2 games played
TE Michael Allan – 0 games played
2006 Draft Class
DE Tamba Hali – 16 starts
S Bernard Pollard – 16 games played
QB Brodie Croyle – 2 games played
CB Marcus Maxey – 1 game played
G Tre Stallings – 1 game played
WR Jeff Webb – 10 games played
S Jarrad Page – 16 games played (2 starts)
2005 Draft Class
LB Derrick Johnson – 16 starts
P Dustin Colquitt – 16 games played
WR Craphonso Thorpe – 0 games played
LB/FB Boomer Grigsby – 16 games played
CB Alphonso Hodge – 0 games played
T Will Svitek – 1 game played
DT Khari Long – 1 game played
QB James Kilian – 0 games played
T Jeremy Parquet – 0 games played