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Early signs are pointing up for Chiefs third-rounder Dorian O’Daniel

It’s all gravy baby.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t think much about it when the Kansas City Chiefs made the 100th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but the more information that comes in, the happier I am with it.

Dorian O’Daniel is a hybrid safety/linebacker from Clemson University who the Chiefs see as a “chess piece,” according to general manager Brett Veach.

“We play in so much dime and sub‐packages,” Veach said after the draft. “This guy will be on the field and be able to cover tight ends, do a lot of different things in regards to matching in our sub‐personnel and then we had him graded as the highest-rated special teams player.”

The highest-rated special teams player means Uncle Dave Toub, who has a killer eye for this stuff, had something to do with the O’Daniel pick. Veach later said the Chiefs expect O’Daniel to play in all four phases of special teams—kick returns, punt returns, kick coverage and punt coverage.

“It’s just one of those things that you have to take pride in,” O’Daniel said of special teams after the draft. “So often I believe that not enough guys take pride in special teams. Early on in my career I wasn’t getting a lot of snaps on defense, so I figured people are going to hear my name and whether that’s punt, kickoffs I was going to go down and make sure people heard my name. Just thinking positive and just getting in where I can get in.”

And as he contributes on teams, the Chiefs have a long-term vision in the defense for O’Daniel. O’Daniel will come in for sub-packages and will serve as a coverage linebacker with special focus on receiving tight ends (a certain Sunday Night Football game in Foxborough comes to mind here) while he develops.

For further analysis, I visited our Clemson sister site, Shakin’ the Southland, where SB Nation writer Ryan Kantor provided a solid draft review.

Here were the comments from Kantor:

Over his five years at Clemson, O’Daniel developed into arguably the most important player on a Clemson defense, ranked No. 2 in the S&P+ advanced stats rankings. He was often used to cover slot receivers and tight ends, but was also excellent tracking down ball carriers, often being seen running across the field to make a big tackle. He is the toughest player the Tigers have to replace next season.

The Kansas City Chiefs were somewhat aggressive in selecting him with the final pick of the third round, as most projected him to be a day-three selection. Nonetheless, the Chiefs get a mature, talented, high-character individual who can thrive if the coaching staff has a plan for how they use him. O’Daniel had specifically said he wanted to go somewhere that has a plan for how to maximize his skill set and was thrilled when the Chiefs selected him for that very reason.

I know Clemson doesn’t play in the SEC (which I like and don’t like being an ACC guy), but over the past few years, they have proven to be a program that can compete among the Alabamas and Georgias of the world. That, in college football, is as close to the NFL as you can get.

To be called arguably the most important player on the Clemson defense therefore speaks volumes, in my opinion, for his NFL potential.

Kantor also notes O’Daniel could thrive with a plan, which Veach has already outlined in detail.

On our latest edition of the Arrowhead Pride Podcast (recorded every Wednesday), our in-house analyst Shawn Barber likened O’Daniel to someone he knows very well.

“I see him being a better version of myself,” Barber said. “Ultra-versatile linebacker, a guy who knows the pass game. He’s been so consistent throughout his career, going to be able to make an impact immediately on special teams.”

The final thing I like about O’Daniel is less about the on-the-field stuff and more about him being comfortable off of it.

Cornerback Kendall Fuller, who the Chiefs acquired in the Alex Smith deal, is O’Daniel’s high school best friend.

“It was funny because when I called Dorian (O’Daniel), Kendall (Fuller) answered – I thought I had the wrong number,” Veach said. “Kendall was kind of screaming, hooting and hollering and that was kind of special.”

Our old friend BJ Kissel of Chiefs dot com FaceTimed with O’Daniel right after the pick and there was Fuller, who happened to be attending O’Daniel’s draft party.

“That’s my brother,” O’Daniel said of Fuller. “We went to high school together for three years.”

This is a very underrated, coincidental-but-fortunate aspect to the pick. O’Daniel will take comfort in moving to Kansas City knowing someone already, and Fuller, also in his first season with the Chiefs, will do the same.

I like the O’Daniel pick (now). I like it a lot.

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