Yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs signed former Georgia offensive linemen and 2007 6th round pick Ken Shackleford. The Bulldog was drafted by the Rams but was also scouted by the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2007 draft.
Truly a massive player at 6'5" and 330 pounds, Shackleford is one of those late round tackle prospects that has "developmental" and "project" attached to his name. Another way to look at those adjectives is that Shackleford has the physical size and the minimum amount of required athleticism for teams to believe he can improve with NFL level coaching and conditioning. He's a low-risk investment, if you will. This description of Shackleford is floating around the Internet in various forms - "A better-than-advertised athlete with the size and strength to play at the next level, Shackleford is a developmental prospect who could surprise if he hits on all cylinders."
Most if not all teams take on a developmental tackle or two each year, if only to keep on the practice squad. The Chiefs last attempt at a project offensive lineman was Ramiro Pruneda, who was signed in January '07 and subsequently cut right before training camp.In 2005 while at Georgia during his junior season, Shackleford's play fell off dramatically after three family members died in a short period of time.
After a strong start in 2005, Shackleford fell out of the offensive tackle rotation as the deaths hit home. In the words of offensive line coach Neil Callaway, Shackleford "really kind of went in a little tailspin" after his aunt, Penny Shackleford, succumbed to cancer, and his grandfather, Eddie Holiday and a great-grandmother, I.V. Phillips, died.
Shackleford rebounded during his senior season to start every game for the Bulldogs at split tackle. He was the least experienced offensive linemen his senior year but was touted as the linemen with the most NFL promise.
Shackleford is little more than training camp fodder for the Kansas City Chiefs. But his size, any player of that size, will intrigue scouts and teams to give him at least a training camp shot. His signing shows a trend this off-season in Kansas City linemen signings - They like guys that have experience playing multiple positions. Little is settled on the Chiefs' offensive line and there will likely be a significant shake up in the positions that Damion McIntosh, Brandon Albert and even Brian Waters will play. Nearly every linemen on the roster has experience, whether NFL or college, playing multiple positions.
The starting offensive line in Week 1 of the 2008 season will not be set in stone. Expect a lot of rotations and a lot of position switching this year.