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Insider Blog: Rookies...In a Word...

Posted May 2, 2010

All seven members of Kansas City's 2010 Draft Class had a chance to make first impressions with the public this weekend

*Updated – Sunday, 1:15 PM

Following Saturday’s first practice, four of Kansas City’s 2010 draft picks took the podium for their initial meeting with the Kansas City media. From an external perspective, it was a day of first impressions for each one of these men. Their sound bites will be introduced to the public for the first time since stepping onto the turf here in Kansas City. On Sunday, the three remaining draft picks spoke for the first time as well.

In a word, each of the seven players left the following first impressions…

DB Eric Berry (1st round, 5th overall)

In a Word: “NFL-Ready”

Though official depth charts won’t come out until just before the preseason opener in Atlanta, expectations of securing a starting role have already been placed on Berry. A lot was thrown at the Chiefs first-rounder in his first media session, and although he insists that he’s just beginning to learn the way of NFL life, it’s clear that outside expectations are already incredibly high.

Such is life for a top-five draft pick.

The same learning process that is tolerated for second and third round picks – and even late first rounders – is expedited for top selections. Luckily for Berry, he’s not starting a ground zero when it comes discovering the way life in the NFL works.

“A lot of things are the same from what I learned from Monte Kiffin in college,” Berry said. “He was showing me they way they do things (in the NFL).”

Kiffin, the long-time Buccaneers defensive coordinator and one of the most respected defensive minds in the game, served as Berry’s defensive coordinator at Tennessee last season.

“I think coach Kiffin really did help me out in (preparation for the NFL),” Berry said. “He had us on pretty much the same type of schedule and pretty much the same coaching philosophy. So that really did help.”

WR Dexter McCluster (2nd round, 36th overall)

In a Word: “Versatile”

There’s no question that McCluster is going to be lined up all over the field in 2010. His first two days in Kansas City are already a testament to that.

On Friday, McCluster went through individual and team drills with the wide receivers and on Saturday he jumped in those same drills with the running backs. Each of the days, he’s also added special teams return duties to his workload.

“I’ll be able to handle it,” McCluster said of learning multiple positions. “Wherever Coach Haley needs me to be is where I’ll be.”

In college, McCluster’s head coach (Houston Nutt) utilized his shifty play-maker as a running back, receiver and even quarterback in the wildcat formation. When asked what McCluster best uses as a receiver might be at the pro level, Nutt couldn’t put just one positional stamp on his former captain.

“An inside slot guy,” Nutt said of McCluster’s best receiving position. “But we had him outside sometimes, because he can get in and out of breaks. I think the one thing that was impressive in the Senior Bowl was how he creates separation against some of the best in the country.”

After just two days, it already looks like Kansas City might already be shuffling through the same type of scenarios that Nutt did in order to get McCluster the football in space.

“It really doesn’t matter,” McCluster said of his position placement. “Wherever he puts me, he’ll get the same guy.”

DB Javier Arenas (2nd round, 50th overall)

In a Word: “Bulldog”

Officially listed by the Chiefs as standing at just 5’9, most would stereotype Arenas as a small and shifty guy. The assumption makes sense based off Arenas’ impressive collegiate resume as both a cornerback and return specialist, but those who pigeonhole Arenas as a typical “small guy” obviously haven’t seen him up close in person.

For a cornerback and return man, Arenas is thick. His weight is listed at close to 200 pounds and, despite his height, he looks like a defensive back who likes to hit. Arenas also appears to be a return man that packs a punch when would-be tacklers come to lay a hat on him.

“I like to compete and I think it has a lot to do with me wanting to compete,” Arenas said if his hitting mentality. “I guess you can kind of say I am physical and it is just something I like to do. I like to make plays that way.”

It’s that mentality and style of play that had Alabama head coach Nick Saban utilizing his cornerback in blitz packages close to the line of scrimmage.

OL Jon Asamoah (3rd round, 68th overall)

In a Word: “Adapter”

Asamoah is a player that the Chiefs hope can adapt to playing the center position, in addition to manning his natural offensive line post at guard. One of the first things that GM Scott Pioli said of Asamoah in his post-draft briefing last weekend was that Asamoah has versatility on the interior, with practice experience at the center position.

Having “swing-men” on the offensive line is imperative to a 45-man gameday roster.

Being a rookie is hard enough and being asked to learn the playbook for three different positions is no easy load, but Asamoah comes off as someone who can handle the abundant amount of new information hurled his way. He was able to fight through three different offensive line coaches at Illinois yet still remain as one of the top guard prospects in his draft class.

“Even though I had three O-line coaches in four years, you get comfortable,” Asamoah said. “Just getting used to the new coaches and getting that whole playbook thrown at you (is the initial surprise).”

Also, Asamoah views that playing for former Chiefs assistant coach Ron Zook at Illinois has prepared him for the demands that Todd Haley puts on his players in Kansas City.

“Coach Zook was a fiery, demanding guy,” Asamoah explained. “Coach (Haley) is fiery, young. I’m not going to crawl into my shell, I’m just going to get out there and work.”

TE Tony Moeaki (3rd round, 93rd overall)

In a Word: “Humble”

Listed by many who analyze and follow the draft as “the sleeper” of Kansas City’s 2010 Draft Class, Moeaki comes across as a very likeable and humble player. Despite entering college as the number one high school prospect at his position and exiting college with one of his better performances, Moeaki is entering the pro ranks as a humbled man.

Viewed by many as a sleek, athletic player who can split out wide as an upright tight end or h-back at the NFL level, Moeaki was asked to compare himself to another former Chiefs tight end that possessed some of those same qualities.

“He has a billion catches and I have zero,” Moeaki laughed when comparing himself to former Chief Tony Gonzalez. “

Comparisons of Moeaki’s style of game have also been to former Hawkeye TE Dallas Clark. Right now, Moeaki begins and ends those comparisons between the two at the point of sharing the same alma mater.

“Absolutely not,” Moeaki laughed again when asked if he’d compare himself to Clark. “Again, he’s in the NFL and has like a billion catches, while I have zero. The only thing we have in common is that we both played at Iowa.”

Moeaki seems to have the right attitude for a player who seems to be entering an open competition for the tight end position, yet is still wet behind the ears.

DB Kendrick Lewis (5th round, 136th overall)

In a Word: “Perseverance”

Lewis hails from Algiers, Louisiana. Before you run to Google Maps, the location of Algiers lies smack in the heart of New Orleans.

Like so many in the New Orleans area, Lewis’ family lost everything when Hurricane Katrina struck the area in 2005. Lewis was a high school senior back then, with a load of college interest and no place to play after the tragedy struck. He would end up finishing his senior football season 500 miles away in Gainesville, Georgia.

“When I was in Katrina, I was faced with a bad situation,” Lewis said. “I had to move on. I couldn’t just stop there and give up everything that I worked so hard for. There’s adversity, so you have to overcome.”

The adversity that Lewis will face as he begins his professional football career will pale in comparison to what he experienced five years ago.

LB Cameron Sheffield (5th round, 142nd overall)

In a Word: “Transition”

Sheffield began the transition from college defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker this weekend. Once OTAs begin in mid-May, Sheffield will join an outside linebacker cast that has seen every single member of its group make that same transition at one point or another in their careers. For Sheffield, this is a good group to lean on for advice.

Tamba Hali began his NFL career as a defensive end, as did Mike Vrabel and Andy Studebaker. Pierre Walters made the switch from college defensive end last spring.

“We had a few packages at Troy where I stood up and played outside linebacker,” Sheffield said. “It is nothing hard to do, I just have to put a little extra work into it to perfect it.”

Sheffield feels like he’s been able to conquer the absolute basics of the positional transition, but things are going to get a lot more difficult in a hurry when Romeo Crennel further implements Kansas City’s defensive packages. Having four teammates who have all gone through the process will be an asset for Sheffield.

In fact, three of the four veterans in his position group have less than one year of experience as outside linebackers. All the hurdles that Sheffield will face this spring/summer should be fresh on the mind for many of his teammates willing to lend a hand.

Overall, all seven of the Chiefs new faces carried the same general attitude of takings an eyes-wide-open approach to their new football environment. Arenas summed up the current overall feeling inside the locker room perfectly.

“I am like a kid and when a parent tells a kid to do something, you are going to do it,” Arenas said. “I am ready to compete and do whatever I can to make the team better, and make the team at this point.”

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