After drafting wide receiver Mecole Hardman, safety Juan Thornhill and defensive lineman Khalen Saunders on day two, the Kansas City Chiefs selected cornerback Rashad Fenton, running back Darwin Thompson interior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti on day three.
Because of the whirlwind of undrafted free agency that begins the second after the draft, general manager Brett Veach doesn’t take questions on the day-three picks until Monday, via conference call.
With that now in the books, let’s talk about why the Chiefs drafted who they did on day three.
CB Rashad Fenton
Because Veach traded his fifth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams to take Hardman, the Chiefs had to wait 117 turns, from No. 84 (Saunders) to No. 201, to select South Carolina cornerback Rashad Fenton in the sixth round.
“We had our eye on Fenton for a long time,” Veach said. “When we went through our draft board and we had guys at different pockets, he was one of those guys that would be right around the [fifth-to-seventh-round] range and we liked him in that spot. He was one of the higher guys we had there. We got there in the sixth round, and the value met the need, so you could certainly stick to the best player available.”
Chiefs area scout David Hinson explained Saturday how Fenton fits into Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 Under defense.
“What’s great about Fenton is if you watch South Carolina—they play a few different styles,” he said. “They do a little more shuffle-and-bail technique, but you will see him in the off-man and zone type stuff where Spags likes to do a little bit of everything. And that’s what Spags is great for, he mixes things up, so you don’t really know what you are getting, and Fenton is a smart football player that has played all the different techniques... When you see a team in college that plays a versatile of Quarters and Cover 2 and Cover 3 and works on some different things, usually those corners are a little bit more prepared for the next level and you can work with them to do some zone stuff. Because that is really the tougher things for them at the next level. Everybody is playing some version of man, but how many coverages of zone did you play? And then your awareness and your instincts, those are the things coaches are looking for.”
Veach added that he liked Fenton’s toughness.
“He’s really competitive, gets his hands on a lot of balls,” he said. “[South Carolina] used him in some different coverage roles there. He also played top competition there for four years at South Carolina, too, so this won’t be too big for him. He’s seen a lot of great wideouts. He’s tough, he’s competitive, has good ball skills, and we think he’ll be in the mix to provide depth at that unit.”
RB Darwin Thompson
Veach and the Chiefs liked Darwin Thompson so much they tried their hardest to trade up for him. That didn’t work, but they got him anyway.
“He’s 5-8 but he’s rocked up,” Veach said. “He’s 200 pounds and he looks like he’s kind of a bodybuilder with his shirt off. He’s got great contact balance. Yards after contact for a small guy, it’s really remarkable to see him always keep that ball forward and he’s always finishing runs moving forward, but he’s tough, he can do some stuff out of the backfield. I think coach Reid and the offensive staff are going to have a lot of fun with him.”
Thompson said Saturday that Kansas City was his best pre-draft visit because of his meetings with running backs coach Deland McCullough, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and head coach Andy Reid.
In those coaches, Thompson explained, he already sees his future.
“At the age of 35 I hope to see myself in player development,” he said. “At the age of 45 I hope to see myself as Deland McCullough. At the age of 50, I hope to see myself as coach [Eric Bieniemy]. I can see myself growing there and they’re going to push me to grow not only as a football player, but as a man. Once I seen that, it really blew me away just how much I related to those guys and how much we had that connection. Me and coach [Bieniemy] for example, he’s got the same chip on his shoulder that I do. We both stand 5-7, 5-8, 200 pounds. coach [Bieniemy] went in the second round, ended up playing 10 years in the league and always carried that chip on his shoulder. That’s the way he coaches.”
Asked for a player comparison for Thompson, Veach chose Titans running back Dion Lewis.
“[Thompson] might be a little more stout than Dion, but both guys are tough runners for their size and even though they’re small, they can do a lot of different things and again, surprisingly very good in between the tackles,” Veach said. “A lot of times these small guys are super fast—you know you can’t really bang them in there too much because you’re worried about durability, you’re worried about those guys getting hurt.
“When you guys see him, if you get a chance on the Internet or the Twitter pages, you can see some of the stuff he does in the weight room and the way he trains. He’s a little fireplug. He is really strong for a small guy.”
OL Nick Allegretti
The Chiefs used their final pick in the draft (No. 216) on interior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, who Veach spoke rather highly about.
“Nick Allegretti is a guy that we think has a really good shot here to not only make the team but potentially fight for some playing time,” Veach said. “[He was a] guard at Illinois and then he had a chance to go to the East-West [Shrine] Game and he actually played guard and center there and his center tape was really what kind of what caught our eye. You guys know how we feel about guys that have versatility. This was a guy who played guard in the Big Ten, did a really good job, goes to the East-West game, plays guard, plays a little center, then all of a sudden, you’re watching the East-West game, you watch him log game snaps at center, and he looked really good at doing that and that got us really excited. I think he’s a 42 Wonderlic, so you know that he’ll be able to come in here and catch on really quick.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has said continually over the years that he goes with his “five best” offensive linemen, meaning the door is wide open for a player like Allegretti.
“His best tape was at guard because he’s just a big, physical, mauler-type guy,” area scout Terry Delp said. “He’s really fun to watch, he gets after it, plays football hard. But he is athletic enough and versatile enough, you saw it in the East-West [Shrine Game] to play center and he did a really good job at it. He played a little heavier during the year, so guard looked better and he lost some weight for the all-star game and looked really good at center. Definitely looking at a two-position guy in the NFL.”
The Chiefs started Eric Fisher, Cam Erving, Mitch Morse, Andrew Wylie and Mitch Schwartz from left to right along the offensive line in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots. Morse signed with the Buffalo Bills during free agency, opening up the center position for Austin Reiter, but it sounds like Allegretti could compete with Reiter for that role.
Another option is at guard, though Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (fibula) should be back and 100 percent healthy. If Duvernay-Tardif slides back into his starting right guard position, does Wylie go to left guard? How do Kahlil McKenzie and Ryan Hunter factor in?
Fisher and Schwartz are locks at the tackle positions, but the interior offensive line positions, especially left guard and center, sound like destinations to watch for Allegretti.
“I’ll say this—I don’t usually get excited watching linemen,” Delp added, “but he was exciting to watch because he just gets after people. He will throw people around, he’s got a nasty edge, strong, really patient, under control, smart player. He’s fun to watch and he’s an offensive lineman.”