Every draft pick has a story — and the Chiefs brought in some good ones Saturday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We love Thursday and Friday for the star power, the names on the back of the jerseys, the marquee alma maters.
We love Saturday for the narratives.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ first-round draft pick, Washington cornerback Marcus Peters, is a cousin of Pro Bowl tailback Marshawn Lynch on his father’s side and pals with Snoop Dogg.
But fifth-round pick James O’Shaughnessy, the tight end out of Illinois State? His father once threatened to sue the NCAA. Defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, the Chiefs’ sixth-round choice, was born in Belize, moved to the United States with his mother as a boy and recalled periods of homelessness and doubt growing up. Wideout Da’Ron Brown, a seventh-round pick, was a prep quarterback who tore up the Chicago Public League with his legs.
"It’s an unreal feeling," Brown told reporters shortly before the 2015 NFL Draft came to a close. "It’s a blessing come true."
Maybe the kid sticks. Maybe he doesn’t. Day 1 and Day 2, you’re targeting starters, starters for the now or the very soon. Day 3, it’s about tweaks, shoring up special teams units and plugging little gaps.
Former Georgia stopper and fourth-rounder Ramik Wilson slots, on paper, into that "inside-linebacker-to-be-named-later" hole in the Chiefs’ 3-4 scheme, another crack at finding an apprentice/running mate for 32-year-old Derrick Johnson.
If you’re curious, Wilson ran a 40 at 4.66 during his Pro Day at 237 pounds; Nico Johnson, the Ramik Wilson of the 2013 draft, ran a 4.73 at 248. Although we think we can trust him to clean up:
New Chief LB Ramik Wilson only had 6 missed tackles on the year, and had the 8th best Tackling Efficiency among draft eligible Power 5 LBs
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) May 2, 2015
The first of two intriguing fifth-round selections, linebacker D.J. Alexander showed up at Oregon State as speedster Donnel (D.J.) Welch, having broken his high school’s records in the 100 and 200 meters, then changed his surname from Welch to Alexander in 2012 to honor his stepfather, Eugene.
The Beavers defender was plucked with an eye toward special teams — there’s that Dave Toub guy again — a 235-pounder who clocked in the mid 4.5s throughout the testing process. Like Wilson, ProFootballFocus.com sees Alexander as a hitter and a sleeper, noting that he notched "the second-highest run defense grade against (Power Five conference) teams among Pac-12 off-ball (linebackers) in this class."
Plus, he’s a willing gunner. Alexander told Chiefs coaches he "loves" special teams, which had to be music to Toub’s ears.
"I think he’d be a real impact player for us on coverage units from Day 1," Chiefs scout Trey Koziol said.
O’Shaughnessy’s mother ran track at Drake, where track is held as reverently as Kansas holds its hoops. His dad played hoops at DePaul, but apparently only after seeking legal action against the NCAA in December 1985 in order to do so.
At 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, the younger O’Shaughnessy was hoping to be on the hoops path, too, until it came time to chase a scholarship for the sport, and Division II and NAIA programs were the only ones showing mutual interest. Illinois State reached out with a football offer and the rest took care of itself. Young James caught two touchdown passes in the Football Championship Subdivision title game against North Dakota State, one a 41-yarder. Dude once went so hard in a tilt that he (allegedly) cleaned his own clock in the process.
"I’ll tell you this," O’Shaugnessy said, "I’ll bring everything I got."
Which sounds an awful lot like Nunez-Roches, a 307-pound hoss out of Southern Miss. Born in Central America — no NFL player from Belize has appeared in an NFL regular-season game since 1926 — Nunez-Roches has "warts" in his game, according to general manager John Dorsey’s scouts, but also totes the raw power/speed/explosion tools coaches love (26 bench reps of 225 pounds at the Combine, 5.02 in the 40-yard dash, 34-inch vertical) to try and build on. And despite coaching turnover and long Saturdays with the Golden Eagles, PFF lauded Nunez-Roches with the "second-highest run defense grade for non-Power Five eligible (defensive tackles)."
Having moved to the States in his youth, he remembers little things such as being fascinated with the idea of running water and electricity, little things we take for granted, and long, uncertain periods where his mother was between jobs. Baseball was his first love, having taken up football at the age of 10 or so. When a reporter Saturday asked the big lug if he was any good, Nunez-Roches replied:
"I was phenomenal."
Modest, our new Chiefs are not.
But they are, to a man, blessed. Even Brown, whose football dossier from his days at Northern Illinois gives high marks for hands and strength (17 bench reps at the Combine, tops among receivers) and raises question marks about separation. Or as they say in the handbook, the cat’s more fast (4.54 in the 40) than he is quick.
So Dorsey’s weekend started with a Husky (Peters) and ended with one, too. Now comes the fun part: Sorting out the pieces. Every pick has a story, and the next chapter is just starting to get interesting.