Only so much knowledge about a player can be gleaned from watching three days of football that has no hitting and no tackling, but packed with loads of pressure for undrafted rookie free agents and other camp invitees. It’s all about putting young players through the paces of the NFL, throwing new terminology and playbooks at them, and see who can adapt the fastest and with the fewest mistakes.
Not that anyone expects to see problems from their top draft pick, but it’s clear from these three days that the Chiefs are going to get the most out of their top pick Mecole Hardman. Tyreek Hill or not, if this was a preview of what’s to come, Hardman will see plenty of the field this year and have a number of plays designed by Andy Reid specifically for his talents – which are far more than just speed.
As much as fans are going to like watching Mahomes to Hardman this coming season, if KC’s second pick, Juan Thornhill, can continue his development, a safety tandem of Tyrann Mathieu and Thornhill is going to be equally enjoyable.
Not only was Thornhill making plays in the secondary all weekend long, and consistently putting himself in the right positions, he was one of the most talkative players on the field. He was quick to encourage, quick to congratulate, but he says he’s never been one to do much trash talking to the other team.
Most teams don’t expect a whole lot from their 6th round draft pick, and the guy who is the final pick in that round. But running back Darwin Thompson isn’t like most people, and the Chiefs depth chart at the position is far from settled.
He stands just 5-foot-8, but with a rock hard 200 pounds of bulk this is no scat back. At camp this weekend he showed quickness between the tackles, a willingness to mix it up with much bigger defenders in pass blocking, and as G.M. Brett Veach says, “He has great contact balance. He’s always finishing runs moving forward.”
Thompson was clearly enjoying himself on the field this weekend, and said that after months of just training it was great to be back to football. He also recognizes that with the way the Chiefs use their running backs, he finds himself in the ideal situation.
Others of Note
There were a number of other rookies that made impressions and are likely to see their time with the Chiefs extend into training camp.
Cody Thompson, an undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Tulsa, had an impressive camp. He showed an ability to get himself open and catch anything thrown his way.
Jamal Custis, an undrafted free agent wide receiver from Syracuse, proved to be next to impossible to cover at 6-foot-5, 213 pounds. You might have heard that the Chiefs gave him over $100k in guarantees to sign with them. He showed why with his ability to bring down balls in traffic.
Jalin Burrell, an undrafted free agent corner out of New Mexico, came into camp without much fanfare. If there was a corner to watch it was Mark Fields out of Clemson, a guy everyone thought would be drafted, and most think will make the Chiefs 53-man roster come September. But Burrell made a number of nice plays on deep balls over the weekend and was deservedly the focus on much praise from the coaches.
Marcus Marshall, a running back from James Madison who was at camp on an invite, has since signed a formal contract as an undrafted rookie. He’d also been invited to Titans rookie camp, but now he is a Chief. And clearly quite happy to be one.
The Chiefs are back on the practice field on May 21 when Phase Three of the offseason team activities (OTA) kicks off. They will practice May 21-23, May 28-30, and June 4-7.