Having grown up a remote island off the coast of Georgia, Chiefs third-round draft pick Allen Bailey comes from a unique background. The community of Hog Hammock, and its 60-some residents living on Sapelo Island, is what Bailey calls home.
The children of the tiny island take a 45-minute ferry ride into the mainland for school each morning. The majority of household supplies must travel via ferry as well. It’s a route that Bailey knows well.
The island is only 13 miles long and is covered mostly by marshes and trees. It’s a place so remote that the scenery is foreign to even the most versed travelers.
“No one (from the Chiefs scouting department) actually went there,” General Manager Scott Pioli revealed Friday night. “But we talked to some people.”
Coming from a place so secluded, it’s no surprise Bailey was almost completely alone when the Chiefs dialed his number.
“I was actually down the street, taking a walk with my niece when the Chiefs called,” Bailey said from Darien, Georgia moments after being selected 86th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. “I still haven’t made it back to the house yet, but I’m sure everybody back there is ecstatic.”
Darien is a small town in mainland Georgia located southwest of Hog Hammock. He was off the island Friday night because Hog Hammock doesn’t receive reliable cell phone reception.
It’s amazing that a community so small could produce an athlete so large. Bailey is the pride of an island where everybody knows everyone. But even if Bailey lived in Atlanta, it’s unlikely he’d go unnoticed.
Bailey squats 585 pounds, bench presses 415 pounds and power cleans 405 pounds. His vertical jump is the highest of any Miami player – ever – and, with arms so sculpted, Bailey’s teammates call him “Billy Bicep.”
“He’s a strong player but he’s also explosively strong,” Pioli said. “There are a lot of guys who don’t necessarily have explosion. The other thing he’s got to go with that is he’s got extremely long arms.
“If we get him and keep him in one position because he’s been a guy who’s moved around a bunch of places, if we can get him in one place, keep him there and make use of the tools and teach him the techniques we’re trying to get, he may have a better chance to develop and become more successful.”
For now, the Chiefs plan to use Bailey as a sub-package rusher similar to the role
Though he’s currently not big enough to play in the Chiefs base defense as nose tackle, Bailey can certainly play along the interior over guards and shift outside to align over tackles as well.
Versatility is one of Bailey’s greatest assets. He played every position on the defensive line over his final three seasons at Miami after beginning his career as an inside linebacker for the Hurricanes.
“Now, in the case of particular players, there are some players who may necessarily be on the surface – and Bailey may be a good example – where he’s a jack of many trades and is perceived as being a master none,” said Pioli. “We, however, think that he may be able to have a chance to be a master at one thing, which is rushing the passer from the inside position, being a good sub-inside rusher.”
Pioli outlined improving the pass rush as one of the Chiefs primary needs heading into draft weekend. Generating that rush extends beyond adding Justin Houston at outside linebacker. In Kansas City’s 3-4 defense, generating pressure is a collective effort from the front seven.
Depending on the role he’s asked to play, Bailey says his frame allows him to gain or lose weight as requested by the Chiefs coaching staff.
In the short-term, Bailey might put on a pound or two back at the island. He’s just become the first NFL player from Hog Hammock. An island-style party is in store.
“There will probably be one, a little get-together, a cookout outside and a bonfire type thing,” Bailey laughed.