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Dorian O’Daniel has the ability to play right away

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

Is it cool to start breaking down film yet or should I come back later?

I remember one time when I was 4 or 5, my parents had to go away for a trip and entrusted the life of my brother and me with a family friend for the weekend. We’ll call her Sheila for the purpose of this article.

My mom, wanting to make sure we were taken care of and had a little fun, gave Sheila money for pizza.

When Sheila asked what kind of pizza we wanted, we (at least in our tiny heads) asked for what we always get: pepperoni and mushroom.

The problem is, we weren’t clear enough. We always got half pepperoni and half mushroom, but we didn’t specify. And when we saw that pizza, we refused to eat it. We weren’t used to having to be so specific.

I’m not here to be Seth. I don’t want to be. That doesn’t benefit the reader or me. I’m going to approach things a little differently. We’re not going to focus on exactly the same things or frame it the exact same way it has been in the past. Hopefully, I can shed some light on the things I’ve been lucky enough to learn in my time around the game.

If you care to know, I was a clipboard-carrying backup quarterback in college for all but the 50 passes I was lucky enough to throw. Don’t feel bad for me though. I got to follow my head coach/offensive coordinator and former Chiefs quarterback Jonathan Quinn around for four years, trying to retain everything I possibly could.

He also brought along several former Chiefs like Kimble Anders, Mark Collins, Kevin Porter, Anthony Davis, Duane Clemons and Eddie Kennison for stints on the staff. When someone says, “Priest Holmes had a lot of success with this,” or “We’d do this with Tony Gonzalez,” you tend to listen. Especially if you’re lifelong Chiefs fan. The things he said definitely stuck with me. He’s still forgotten more than I know about football, but he lit a fire in me to keep learning.

I know enough about football to know that I know nothing about the game of football. The principles are simple: running, blocking, tackling, throwing, catching. The ways that the best put people in position to do all those things get more and more interesting by the year. Hopefully, this is a place where we can all learn something together. I’ll be taking my best guess at what players were asked to do on a given play and how their athletic traits allowed them to do it. Down the road, we’ll be doing play breakdowns and more. I’m excited about what we’ve got planned.

By the way, pepperoni and mushroom pizza is actually delicious.

When it comes to the Chiefs’ selections in the NFL Draft, we already know the who. We’ve already started to unpack the who with Breeland Speaks and Derrick Nnadi reviews already in the books.

Here’s the why....

Why Speaks, Nnadi and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel were drafted is to fix problems like this. The Chiefs needed to stop the run on a big third-and-the-season to have a chance to win their first playoff game at Arrowhead in over twenty years. They couldn’t.

This might creep up and surprise you a little bit, but if that same scenario presented itself today, the Chiefs could very realistically have as many as nine different players on the field.

A flurry of off-season moves has helped provide a wide variety of bodies to throw at defenses. One of the more unique acquisitions was the 100th pick in the draft. O’Daniel, the Clemson product, provides not only plus special teams ability, but sorely needed traits in sub-package defensive looks.

Some (including myself early on) thought O’Daniel might be able to play safety. I don’t see it. He doesn’t look as comfortable the farther away from the line of scrimmage he gets. He’s a linebacker—probably a dime personnel linebacker. But he could be a really good one. With plenty of ability in coverage.

While I don’t think he’d consistently hold up as a safety away from the ball, that doesn’t mean he isn’t fluid in coverage.

As you watch this next clip, guess which one of these players is O’Daniel.

If you guessed the slot defender at the bottom side of the formation, you’re correct. I won’t blame you if you didn’t get it right though. While this snap might be the exception, and he’s often a little more flat-footed than you see on this play, how smooth is that movement from a 233-pound man? O’Daniel showed fluid hips and impressive change of direction for someone his size.

The receiver tried to break in and quickly back out, and couldn’t shake the twitchy linebacker.

Not only can O’Daniel stick in man coverage, he also shows impressive instincts dropping in coverage as well.

O’Daniel is playing in underneath coverage against Lamar Jackson and Louisville. He gets depth and sees a running back leak into the flat. From here he either baits Jackson into thinking he’s flying to the flat, or just realizes that Jackson is about to throw the ball downfield and behind him. Either way, O’Daniel plays this perfectly and makes a play on the ball for a pick-six. It was a smart, athletic display.

And speaking of athletic...

You won’t believe me when I say this, but Daniel Sorensen tested with an elite 20-yard shuttle (3.95 seconds and 97th percentile) and three-cone drill (6.47 seconds and 99th percentile). O’Daniel, 18 pounds heavier, had equally if not more impressive 20-yard shuttle (4.07 seconds and 92nd percentile) and three-cone times (6.64 seconds and 96th percentile). Both players have surprising twitch. O’Daniel does it with a bigger frame. The quick change of direction shows up on tape.

This is one of those “process is more important than the result” kind of plays. Nathan Peterman (yes...THAT Nathan Peterman) makes an excellent play for a completion. O’Daniel couldn’t have played it better though.

You can see the athleticism to cover the tight end with ease. As Peterman stretches the play to the sideline, O’Daniel is put in conflict. He has to decide when to break from the tight end to pursue Peterman, keeping him from running free. O’Daniel uses great instincts, combined with the quick-twitch ability he possesses to close in on Peterman at the right time. The throw and play were just exceptional. O’Daniel did the right thing, and made the quarterback pay.

O’Daniel does a lot of good things near the line of scrimmage.

(Credit to KelcieKrazies for the cut up)

This is one of my favorite snaps. O’Daniel is quick to diagnose the gun-toss play and uses his athleticism to close on the running back for a big tackle for loss. O’Daniel is on the move before the snap and is still able to process the information and let his ability take over from there. I expect to see him active in the backfield at the next level the same way he is here.

Letting O’Daniel play free at the line of scrimmage can be futile.

I don’t care if this is against a triple-option team, you won’t see many linebackers explode to the quarterback like this very often. The acceleration after turning the corner is special. The running back completely whiffs after O’Danie; burst to the quarterback. You can’t give him a free release. He’ll make you pay.

He’ll also make you forget he’s a linebacker.

Just because he moves like a safety doesn’t mean you can expect receivers to block him. Wake Forest found that out the hard way. If used properly, and not correctly accounted for by an offense, O’Daniel can give teams nightmares. Here in this play he gets an easy release from the receiver to make a play in the backfield on the screen. If Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton can find ways to put O’Daniel in situations like this, he’s going to thrive in Kansas City.

We’ve seen what he can do on defense. There’s another major plus to his game that no one is talking about enough.

The bottom line

In O’Daniel, you’re getting a four-core special teamer on top of his ability to play in sub-packages. I expect O’Daniel to get plenty of playing time between the two roles.

I’m intrigued to see how Bob Sutton unleashes this defensive weapon. I would have loved to see what he could have done on third-and-the-season at Arrowhead against Tennessee.

I hope he’ll get his chance to make in impact in January. He certainly has the ability.

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