Danny Kelly of the The Ringer put out an interesting article titled, “The 2014 NFL Draft Class Is Ready for Its Second Act,” Thursday morning.
One of the players Kelly mentions is linebacker Dee Ford, who the Chiefs selected with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
The former Auburn Tiger broke out in 2016 with a 10-sack season, but missed the team’s final 10 games last season with a back injury, and the status of his fifth-year option (which the team picked up last year) comes into focus over the next few weeks. If Ford can pass his physical, Kansas City may decide to rescind that option and let him hit free agency.
While Ford did break out with a 10-sack season in ‘16, it is critical to recall that most of these sacks, nine of them to be exact, came within a six-game stretch.
Ford had more sacks in those six games (9.0) than the rest of his career combined—8.5 in 45 games.
It’s also important to note here that sacks don’t necessarily equate to edge rusher success. Justin Houston is still one of the better pass rushers in the league despite his sack numbers (9.5) being a little bit down for him personally last season.
But the Ford statistics are troubling. And you hate to say this about a player, especially one you drafted in the first round, but he cannot stay healthy on the field.
Ford discussed how he had overtrained in the past prior to the 2016 season and that it affected the way his body performed later on in the year. And though he said then that 2016 would be different, he never recorded a sack after Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers.
In 2017, back issues kept Ford off the field from Week 8 forward and the Chiefs placed him on Injured Reserve in early December.
Now there is a matter of the physical next month. If Ford passes, the Chiefs have an $8.7 million option for 2018, which would be a contract year. If Ford fails, he stays anyway.
If the Chiefs wind up having a choice, there are also other options to consider at right outside linebacker. The Chiefs have yet to cut 34-year-old Tamba Hali, Frank Zombo has filled in for Ford before and we don’t know what Tanoh Kpssagnon will look like come training camp.
So what’s the call?
If Dee Ford is healthy, should the Chiefs keep him?
This poll is closed