KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Addressing depth on the offensive line was a draft need after losing left tackle Branden Albert, and guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah to free agency.
Sep 21, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers offensive linesman Zach Fulton (72) blocks against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Chiefs accomplished that task by finishing the 2014 NFL Draft with the sixth-round selections of guard Zach Fulton (193rd overall) and tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
“We went with two offensive linemen because we thought we needed to add some more depth to the offensive line,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said during Saturday’s post-draft press conference. “And at each time as they fell in the sixth round, they were the highest-rated player. So the board spoke and I think it did a nice job.”
Of course, Fulton and Duveray-Tardif aren’t guaranteed roster spots even as draft picks.
And while they’ll be involved in competition with teammates in the coming months, the two draft picks have a mentality that Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto appreciates.
“Both of these guys – I’m an O‐line guy – these are two nasty people,” Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto said. “It’s great because they both understand the line.
“They step over the line and they’re wild horse riders. They step back over and they’re shepherds. These are good guys, really good guys off the field, quality human beings. When they hit the field, you’re going to see some people mixing it up. These two will both do it.”
Fulton, who measures 6-foot-4, 323 pounds, joins the Chiefs from Tennessee where he appeared in 47 games. A total of 40 games came at right guard, a position currently in flux given the departures of Schwartz and Asamoah.
But while Fulton, a native of Homewood, Ill., acclimates to new surroundings in Kansas City, he’ll at least have a familiar face in former Tennessee, current Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray to assist the transition.
“I’m very excited,” Fulton said of reuniting with Bray during Saturday’s media conference call. “It’s going to be good memories coming back.”
Unlike his new teammate, Duvernay-Tardif took another path to the NFL.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive tackle played at McGill University in Canada and the Chiefs discovered him at a college All-Star game.
“We really found Larry, our second pick, at the East-West Shrine Game,” Sperduto said. “He went down there and played. Very surprising how big and athletic he was. Then he was physical, and he kind of really just surprised us at how good of an athlete he was for such a big man.”
Sperduto said Duvernay-Tardif is “raw.” However, the talent the Chiefs observed proved enough to take a chance with hopes the coaching staff can develop the former Canadian college football player into an NFL player.
“It’s a big swing and we’re hoping for a home run,” Sperduto said. “You’ve got the guys upstairs that can develop him.
“They’ll close the gap as fast as they can and we’ll see how quick he hits the field. The staff upstairs, they know what they’re doing and they’re on board with it. I’m not worried about that. He’ll close it quick.”
For Duvernay-Tardif, the arrival to the NFL deviated from his original goal.
He said his dream was to play professionally in the Canadian Football League, but quickly realized based on his performance at the East-West Shrine Game he had a chance in the U.S.
“Everything went well after that,” Duvernay-Tardif said during a media conference call. “I was training in the states. I had two visits and hosted my own Pro Day in Montreal and a few teams showed up. Everything went really well for me. I’m really happy about that and excited to start to play at the next level.”
But if the NFL doesn’t work out, Duvernay-Tardif could find himself on another path away from football entirely.
Very much like how he landed in the NFL, he has another unique opportunity being in medical school and a year shy of studies to become a doctor.
“The plan right now is that I’m going to be able to do two months per year during the offseason for four years,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “And I’m going to graduate as a doctor in probably 2017 or 2018 or something like that.”
Snapshot of Chiefs picks:
• 1.23 OLB Dee Ford, Auburn
• 3.87 CB Phillip Gaines, Rice
• 4.124 RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
• 5.163 QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
• 6.193 G Zach Fulton, Tennessee
• 6.200 OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill