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Checking in on Dee Ford's development in the Chiefs first preseason game

A look at Dee Ford's snaps from the Chiefs first preseason game against Arizona.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dee Ford has become an easy target for criticism after becoming the Chiefs surprise first round pick last season. Ford spent 2014 playing behind two all-time great Chiefs OLBs so we can't blame him for not having a big impact as a rookie.

Before this offseason, it was widely speculated that Tamba Hali would become a cap casualty, and Ford would take over his spot as a starter. Of course, Hali re-worked his contract to give Chiefs fans at least one more year. So, where does that leave Ford?

The hope is that he'll develop into the full-time starter over time, perhaps by coming in initially to spell Hali in obvious passing downs. An early season role as a pass rushing specialist would allow Ford to contribute while continuing to learn from the best. As the season wears on, the coaching staff would ideally increase Ford's snaps and by the end of season he would be the starter.

In order to achieve this goal, Ford would need to show improvement after a full offseason of work.

The 2014 areas that needed improvement for Ford would include:

  • Developing a second pass rush move (something other than speed edge rush)
  • Improving awareness (avoiding the infamous Frank Gore play)
  • Improving strength (to fight off blockers and be stout vs the run)
  • Improving pass coverage ability

Taking a look at the Chiefs first preseason game last week, Dee Ford played 25 snaps.

My quick summary of his results are below:

First quarter

  • Got into backfield quickly two times
  • Not involved in any other plays

Second quarter

  • Assisted on a tackle (for a 10 yard gain)
  • Should have had a sack but couldn't hang on
  • Had a solid snap in coverage
  • Had two good speed rushes that didn't hit home
  • Drew a double team on a speed rush

Third quarter

  • Shed a block and got in on a tackle

On each of the other 16 plays throughout Saturday's game, Ford was effectively handled by one offensive lineman and blocked out of the play.

He was also offsides on a punt.

ProFootballFocus gave him a -2.3 overall, with two QB hurries and a missed tackle. For comparison, his fellow Chiefs OLBs graded as follows:

  • Josh Martin, +1.0 (one hit, one hurry, one assist)
  • Dezman Moses +6.5 (wow ... he also led the defense with 48 snaps) (one hit, five hurries, four tackles, four stops)
  • Justin Houston 0.0 (only 10 snaps)
  • Tamba Hali +1.1 (also 10 snaps)

At this point, Dee Ford is still a speed rush specialist that needs to develop more counter moves, awareness and strength. He certainly has an impressive first step and very good speed around the edge ... but that's pretty much all he showed on Saturday.

That being said, does anyone remember who else was a one dimensional converted DE that often got too far upfield and out of control? Hint: Ford is trying to replace him now ... check out this scathing report by some fledgling Chiefs blog in 2009.

Ford still has the chance to develop into a very good player. He's certainly got the best possible mentors and coaches to get him there. He will definitely be a player to watch as the preseason and regular season progress.

Based on limited snaps in the first preseason game my takeaway is that he still has plenty of work to do.

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