Now that the NFL lockout is finally set to end this week, we will get to see what rookies will be a part of the Kansas City Chiefs in addition to their nine selections in April’s draft.
Here are six players that we thought should be on the top of GM Scott Pioli’s list back on draft day and likely will receive the first calls he makes when the flood gates open.
Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina
One of the players at the center of the UNC NCAA probe was suspended for the first seven games of the season. Burney’s draft stock was also pulled down by a disappointing 4.69 40 time at his pro day.
If you look at what Burney did on the field, he was not only worthy of being drafted, but competing for time at nickel in the NFL right now. He plays much faster than his combine and pro day times would suggest and never shies away from contact.
Even with the selection of CB Jalil Brown to go along with Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Javier Arenas, the Chiefs are far from set at corner. We saw last season how quickly a secondary gets exposed when one player goes down, leaving plenty of room for Burney or another UDFA to compete for a spot.
Garrett Chisolm, G, South Carolina
Before the draft, he was singled out by Mel Kiper here as an under the radar player to keep an eye on in the SEC.
Chisolm has dealt with unimaginable heartbreak while fighting his way towards becoming All-SEC second-team.
He first attended Trident Technical College and Pikeville Junior College before paying his way as a walk-on at South Carolina. Then in 2010, he lost his mother in January and his father in September, both to cancer. While all this was happening, Chisolm was not only playing his tail off, but off the field was a member of the SEC Community Serve Team and was recognized for his work in the classroom.
Undrafted due to a lack of experience and an inability to workout at the combine due to an injury, Chisolm would be a welcome addition to the Chiefs offensive line.
Preston Dial, TE, Alabama
Some will say he’s too much like seventh-round pick Shane Bannon, but Dial should be one of the first calls Pioli makes. He is an elite blocker who spent five years at Alabama, taking home the “I Like To Practice” Award. Dial showed off solid hands in the passing games as a senior, especially for a guy that measures up at just 6″2′.
He might not have the chops to make the 53-man roster, though at the very least he would be a lock to catch on with the Chiefs practice squad.
Stephen Franklin, LB, Southern Illinois
The Kansas City native showed the Chiefs what he had at their local pro day. If he brought it the way he did as a captain at Southern Illinois, then Romeo Crennel and his staff no doubt saw an athletic linebacker that has a great motor.
Franklin also showed remarkable consistency, playing in all 50 games since arriving on campus at the D1-AA school.
He has a lot of work to do before he can help on defense, but the under-sized Franklin would be a perfect special teams player while working on his ability to fill in behind Jovan Belcher.
Jeron Johnson, S, Boise State
I’m still trying to figure out how Johnson wasn’t drafted. He was the Broncos leading tackler the last three seasons, earning All-WAC over the same span. He isn’t great at any one thing, but holds his own across the board and should be able to step in right away as a backup in Crennel’s scheme.
After seeing the Chiefs struggle with depth at safety last season, you can bet that they will bring at least one UDFA to try and compete. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be Johnson.
Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame
Some have him pegged strictly for a 4-3, but Williams is just as big as incumbent NT Ron Edwards and has the potential to draw plenty of double teams.
His ceiling isn’t nearly as high as sixth-round pick Jerrell Powe, however the two both rely on keeping fresh within a rotation and right now there isn’t much talent behind Edwards in the middle for Kansas City leaving plenty of room for both big men.
Seeing Williams fight back from what was called a season-ending knee injury so he could play in a meaningless bowl game for the Irish was enough to convince me that his toughness would be a welcome addition to the Chiefs defensive line.