KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fans may have been surprised Thursday night by the selection of Auburn defensive end/outside linebacker Dee Ford during the first round of the NFL Draft.
Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback James Franklin (1) is taken down by Auburn Tigers defensive end Dee Ford (30) during the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome. Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
But they apparently weren’t alone in that feeling.
“I’m definitely surprised that it was Kansas City,” Ford admitted during a post-draft media conference call. “I’m not surprised it’s the first round.”
The selection of Ford, who measures 6-foot-2, 252 pounds, offers the Chiefs a pass rushing specialist who recorded 10.5 sacks in 2013 for the Tigers. He notched two sacks in the BCS title game against Florida State.
The All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection last season finished his career at Auburn appearing in 52 games (20 starts), and totaling 93 tackles (59 solo) and 20.5 sacks.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said Ford was among three other players the team considered at the 23rd pick, adding Ford has a “unique trait” of speed.
“I admire him not only as a person,” Dorsey said, “but again I keep adding his ability to rush the passer. If you look at him later into the season as he goes along, we clearly thought he was the second-best pass rusher in this draft.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid agreed, noting Ford will be a fine addition to the team’s current stable of pass rushers.
“He’s somebody that we add into Bob (Sutton’s) defense and really becomes a guy that can mix in with Tamba (Hali) and Justin (Houston) and all of the good rushers – (Dontari) Poe – that we have,” Reid said. “You need that in the AFC West, along with the divisions we’re playing this year.”
Reid said the plan is to transition Ford to outside linebacker, comparing Ford’s situation to Hali when the former came out of college as a defensive end.
Moreover, the addition of Ford offers the Chiefs much-needed depth at the outside linebacker position. Hali turns 31 in November, while Houston is in the final year of his contract.
And to hear it from Reid, the Chiefs are expecting an immediate contribution from their first-round pick.
“He’s somebody that you can work in there immediately in a third‐down, nickel situation,” Reid said. “And as you know, a percentage of our snaps end up leaning towards our nickel defense.”
Meanwhile, Dorsey appeared pleased with how the pick turned out based on results from the Combine interview with Ford and a ringing endorsement from Ford’s former coach.
“I thought it was interesting one of our scouts got a text from the head coach of Auburn (Gus Malzahn),” Dorsey said, “‘You just got a champion.’”
For his part, Ford said he was excited to come to Kansas City and was humbled to talk to Dorsey, Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton when the phone call arrived Thursday night.
Ford, who spent the draft with family in Alabama, adds talking to Reid at the Combine left an indelible mark and he looks forward to playing for a man he admires and to meeting Kansas City.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone,” Ford said, “And I’m hoping everyone is looking forward to seeing me. We’re going to have some great times. I plan on being a Kansas City Chief forever. No trading me, so let’s get it done.”
That enthusiasm from Ford must be music to Dorsey’s ears.
“He’s going to be part of that locker-room culture that we talk about,” Dorsey said. “He’ll be a fine addition to that locker-room culture.”