Chiefs pass on drafting QB, land targeted linebacker
With Matt Barkley out of the picture, Chiefs land targeted Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson
By JEFFREY FLANAGANFS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For those fans begging for the
Chiefs to select a quarterback in this year’s draft, excitement likely rose when rumors started surfacing that the Chiefs were gearing up to take USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round on Saturday.
The Philadelphia Eagles may have been buying into the rumors as well and quickly traded up four spots ahead of the Chiefs to take Barkley.
As it turns out, though, the Chiefs then selected the player they targeted all along -- Alabama inside linebacker Nico Johnson.
"I know there was talk about us and Barkley," Reid said. "But that’s not the direction we were going. We were going defense there from the start. (General manager) John (Dorsey) had his eye on Nico all along."
Certainly there was a contingent of Chiefs fans hoping the team would draft and develop a young quarterback to complement veterans Alex Smith and Chase Daniel.
There’s still a chance the Chiefs will sign an undrafted free-agent quarterback tonight when teams scramble wildly to fill their rosters for upcoming rookie camps.
"Oh, yes, definitely, that could happen," Reid said. "There’ll be a lot of guys signed tonight and in the next few days. I mean, John’s getting ready for that. When the draft ends, it’s like the bell going off for the New York Stock Exchange. It’s pretty crazy."
That fury will be a quick switch from the previous days of Reid’s and Dorsey’s first draft together, which Reid described as organized and smooth.
"I thought it went very well with John and I," Reid said. "I’m the coach, he’s the general manager, and I guess I’m speaking for him but I thought it was a smooth operation.
"We were fortunate that we had some needs filled in this draft, not that that’s the way we went into it. You take the best player and follow the board. It just so happened that as we followed the board, some of the picks we had happened to be needs, too."
On the final day of the draft, the Chiefs likely gained just one starting candidate – Johnson, a powerful inside backer from Alabama where he won three national titles. In a conference call, Johnson was asked if he ever wears all there championship rings at once.
"No, I haven’t got the third one yet but I never wear them because I’m always trying to improve for the next one," Johnson said. "That’s the mindset I got from coach (Nick) Saban, never being satisfied. When I get that one, I’ll put it away and try to work on that next one at the next level."
Reid indicated that Johnson will compete immediately for the inside mike linebacker spot.
"I talked to Nick again right before we drafted Nico," Reid said. "He talked about Nico being a leader on obviously a great, great team. He talked about Nico being a great blitzer who played on first and second down.
"Nico hasn’t covered a lot in college so that’s something he’ll have to pick up here but we’re ready to get him used to that. We’re excited to get him."
Reid also was high on Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings, picked in the fifth round. Commings will switch to safety with the Chiefs.
"Big, strong guy who was a press corner," Reid said. "He’s fast, ran a 4.4 40. He can come in and help us right away."
Commings did have legal trouble in college – he was arrested for domestic violence in 2012 and suspended for two games. Commings said that subject was addressed in pre-draft interviews with the Chiefs.
"I think they may have touched on it for a second, we didn’t talk much about it at all after that," Commings said. "They did their own research, talking to all the people in Athens, Ga., after they got the news; they knew what kind of person I was. That wasn’t a topic we spent long on at all."
The picks over the three-day draft:
Round 1:Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: The Chiefs certainly got a player who can have an immediate impact on their line. Fisher is 6 feet 7, 306 pounds, with unique athleticism. The question, though, is where Fisher will play. If Branden Albert isn’t traded, Fisher likely moves to right tackle. If Albert is dealt, the Chiefs will be criticized for essentially creating a hole they needed to fill.
Round 3: Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati: One might think tight end isn’t a great need. But remember that Andy Reid loves tight ends, and John Dorsey came from Green Bay, which regularly keeps four to five tight ends on the roster. Kelce, 6 feet 5, 255, was a former Wildcat quarterback who has great hands and elusiveness.
Round 3: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas: What the Chiefs hope is that Davis will be a power alternative to Jamaal Charles. Davis has all the physical skills and at 6 feet, 227 pounds, he has the frame to deliver punishment. Davis has a high ceiling, but has been injury-prone. A gamble worth taking.
Round 4: Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama: The Chiefs need help inside, and are hoping they got a steal this late with Johnson, a bruiser at 6 feet 2, 248 pounds. Johnson knows how to win, obviously, having played at Alabama, and he also has the tools to step in right away. He sheds blockers well and gets to the ball quickly. Struggled with injuries, though.
Round 5: Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia: May not be quick enough to stick at corner, but Chiefs could see him developing into a safety. Good size (6 feet, 216 pounds) but spotty at tackling. Commings was arrested in 2012 on domestic violence charges and suspended for two games.
Round 6: Eric Kush, C, California (PA): The Chiefs took a chance on Kush, a 6-foot-4, 307-pound center from the small Division II school in Pennsylvania. Kush showed his toughness at the East West Shrine Game when he left the game because of a leg injury but he returned, taped up, and finished by playing with a slight limp. Long shot.
Round 6: Braden Wilson, FB, Kansas State: Regarded as an exceptional blocker, Wilson could make the transition to tight end or H-back. Carried the ball just six times in 2012. Wilson is 6 feet 3, 251 pounds, and likely will have to show he can be a presence on special teams.
Round 7: Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton: At 6 feet 4, 270 pounds, Catapano will have to put on some pounds if he wants to play as a five-technique end. A productive player in the Ivy League, Catapano totaled 12 sacks. Wasn’t invited to the combined but did run a 4.75 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 37 inches.