With so few free agent additions made on the defensive side of the football for the Chiefs this offseason, there are a group of 14 second and third-year players that Todd Haley is expecting to get big time contributions from. KCChiefs.com’s Josh Looney broke down the entire “pack”, including three players that have received very little attention during their time with the Chiefs.
David Herron (third-year player) – Herron came in at mid-season and filled the roll that Monty Beisel left vacant when he was released at mid-season. Herron survived the majority of 2009 as a fringe player and even weathered an injury that kept him inactive for a few weeks. He had staying power with his special teams play a year ago, and will likely fight for that role once more.
Pierre Walters (second-year player) – An original member of Belcher’s “wolf pack,” Walters made the team as an undrafted linebacking project. He had a “redshirt” season to prepare for the opportunity that awaits him this summer. Walters is loaded with NFL measurables, but he’ll also have to fend off a pair of rookies nipping at his heels (Cameron Sheffield and Jason Cole).
Donald Washington (second-year player) – He’s moved from cornerback to safety, but a new position doesn’t mean that expectations will lighten. He was at a disadvantage from the start as a rookie with NCAA/NFL rules keeping him out of the off-season program until June. Athleticism has never been a question with this guy. Will a full off-season of prep-work get him on the field more often?
Both linebacker and safety are positions that are wide open right now from a depth perspective and all three players realistically have a chance to see some time with the first team depending on how they come across during training camp.
Walters is a player that I have been excited about from the minute he signed as an undrafted free agent. Like Jeffrey Fitzgerald – an UDFA this year – Walters has a special mix of size, speed and athleticism that gives him a chance to be a big time player if all the stars align for him. After sicking on the 53-man roster his entire rookie season, Walters will need to show he’s ready to contribute on Sundays.
Herron has been an under the radar type guy that bounced around the league a bit between the Vikings and Patriots after going undrafted out of Michigan State before finally finding a bit of a comfort level in Kansas City. Unlike Walters, I’m not sure Herron has the tools to be a starting linebacker at this level, but with his ability to play special teams he could turn into a great “glue” guy.
When I talk about under the radar guys, it wouldn’t be right if I left out Washington. He was pretty much a forgotten man last year, which was saying a lot considering how badly the secondary (outside of the Brandon’s) struggled. I figured if he was going to show anything, he would have during any of those ugly stretches for the Chiefs defense, right? But he seems to have emerged from a position switch as a guy ready to provide depth at a position quickly becoming a strength after long being a huge weakness.