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Chiefs excited about first-round pick's potential

Published on -5/10/2014, 8:09 PM

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By Terez A. Paylor

McClatchy-Tribune

On Thursday, shortly after the Chiefs selected Auburn defensive end Dee Ford with their first-round pick, general manager John Dorsey declined to name some players Ford reminded him of, though he had a few in mind.

But on Friday, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, who pairs his passion for the game with a willingness to let his football men do their jobs, revealed the name of at least one of those players, and it's one Chiefs fans should be very happy to hear about.

"I obviously had a chance to go over our draft board many times with John in the lead up to the draft, and he emphasized what a tremendous pass rusher he is," Hunt said of Ford. "His quickness in getting off the ball ... I don't want to say that they compared him to Derrick Thomas, but in describing his physical attributes, certainly Derrick came to mind."

To be clear, no one is saying Ford is Derrick Thomas. That would not be fair to him.

But the Chiefs do think he has the potential to be a special pass rusher.

"He's got a unique trait," Dorsey said. "Not only is it speed, but like the great pass rushers, what they have is that strong interior hip when they start leaning toward the quarterback. He doesn't lose his balance and he continues to drive forward. To me, that's a very rare trait."

Ford's passion for sacking the quarterback was obvious his introductory news conference Friday, when he giddily spoke about his various go-to pass-rush moves.

"Well, this is the home of Derrick Thomas -- I know y'all remember that speed, man," Ford said. "That get-off is so vital, it's so deadly. Just the speed rush itself, it opens up everything."

But Ford, who checks in at 6 feet 2 and 252 pounds and had 10.5 sacks as a senior in 2013, doesn't plan on relying solely on his 4.59 speed and superior bend around the corner to get to the quarterback.

"I have a lot of counters and a lot of things I'm going to learn from (Tamba) Hali and all the vets here," Ford said. "I love the speed rush, love speed-to-power, love to spin.

"Pass rush is an art, man. And it's all about what you put into it."

Ford also dismissed concerns about his health. He missed two games last season because of a MCL injury, and didn't work out at the combine because of concerns about a previous back surgery he suffered in 2011 (he had a micro discectomy because of a badly herniated disk).

"I wasn't injured, they just saw some things in my MRI that they didn't want to (risk aggravating) at the combine," Ford said. "But I healed in a week and did it a week later at my pro day. I did pretty well so it's all good."

Indeed. In fact, Ford's 40 time (4.59) and performance on the bench press (29 reps) topped fellow outside linebacker and No. 5 overall pick Khalil Mack (4.65 40 and 23 bench reps), who went to the Raiders.

On the heels of that performance, Ford insists he's now fine.

"You can't fake back pain," Ford said with a laugh. "You can't fake that. I'll tell you that right now. So I feel great. I feel better than I ever felt, bodywise. I'm ready to roll."

Now, the Chiefs and owner Clark Hunt hope Ford is ready to add to an already-solid pass rush that features Hali and Justin Houston.

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