The talk of training camp, at least for on-the-field matters, will be rookie outside linebacker Dee Ford. Coming to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the NFL Draft out of Auburn University, Ford showed a special quickness of the snap and a mental capacity during OTAs and minicamp.
Ford will struggle for playing time unless defensive coordinator Bob Sutton gets creative, sitting behind veterans Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Of course, if Houston decides to hold out, Ford could be thrust into the spotlight sooner than anybody expected.
Assuming Houston is ready to go by the regular season and both he and Hali remain healthy, what is a successful season for Ford? Much of this depends on the amount of playing time he sees, but it is still a fun notion to kick around during the offseason.
- Here is Hali's rookie season: 61 tackles, 8 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 1 interception
- Here is Houston's rookie campaign: 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 0 interceptions
- A stat line I would be happy with from Ford in 2014: 45 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions
Hali came in as a full-time starter and Houston started the second half of the season after taking over Andy Studebaker's spot. Ford will likely see less time than either of them, factoring into my satisfaction with those numbers.
Where do you stand on this? Does Ford need to be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation or simply be a threat? Do you give him a free pass? Let us know in the comments below.