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Running back Isiah Pacheco is another Chief carrying a chip on his shoulder

The former Rutgers standout is grateful for the chance to show many NFL teams they missed their chance.

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It has become commonplace to rave about how much value the Kansas City Chiefs have accumulated in their last two draft classes. After drafting a starting right guard in 2021’s sixth round, the organization followed it up with a class that is almost universally thought to be full of value.

From a prospect’s perspective, there’s motivation that comes from being drafted later than you believed you would be. There are multiple draft picks in Kansas City’s 2022 class who can feel that way — one of them being the speedy, big-play running back they acquired in the seventh round.

That is former Rutgers running back Isiah Pacheco, who admitted on Sunday that he had higher expectations about where he would be selected.

“I went for two days,” Pacheco revealed to reporters. “I was thinking moreso late-third round, but it didn’t work out the way I wanted.”

He had reason for that level of optimism: he had been the fastest running back at the NFL Combine with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash. Yet his disappointment didn’t impact the moment when he was finally selected.

“We were at a [sports bar]... just waiting for the call,” Pacheco began. “When I got it, I stepped outside... I heard [Chiefs head coach Andy Reid] say ‘we’re going to turn the ticket in, turn your TV on.’ I was so excited I put my phone in my pocket — mind you, I didn’t hang up, so Coach was still on the phone. Everyone was just screaming — and coach was like, ‘Are you alive?’”

The excitement and passion that Pacheco displayed in that moment comes through in everything he does and says. It’s exactly why you can expect him to be motivated by where he was selected. And he said that having a chip on his shoulder was nothing new to him.

“Definitely do, always carry the chip,” Pacheco assured his listeners. “From Rutgers, we have a lot of people that hate Rutgers — but me, I’m a New Jersey guy. I bleed and sweat New Jersey, I have it tattooed on me; it says, ‘Go hard or go home.’ For me to be here in Kansas and represent New Jersey, I’m going to do it to the best ability I can.”

Many in Chiefs Kingdom have already noticed that Pacheco is rocking a familiar number: 10. Former wide receiver Tyreek Hill wore that jersey over the last six seasons — but the rookie doesn’t think much of it.

“Definitely know who wore it,” he declared. “[But] I don’t feel any pressure. I’ve worn this number before — [during] my freshman year in college — and did a great job with it. It’s not the number, but the player. I’m the guy that’s wearing it. I just got to go out there and execute wherever they need me.”

But it’s not just the draft capital spent on him that will light a fire under Pacheco. Reminded that it was Mother’s Day, he shouted out to his mother, Felicia Cannon — praising her for being strong after two of her children were murdered. Those tragedies have obviously made an impact on Pacheco, who said it is part of the reason he’s in the position he now occupies.

“My confidence comes from my hardships — say, losing two siblings,” Pacheco reflected. “For me to make it to where I’m at today — and look back on it — there was a lot of hard work done. I leaned on my mother and my parents to guide me — to make my sister and brother proud [when] looking down on me. For me to just go out there and play hard for them and my family, I’m going to do so.”

Whether it’s because of his obvious passion — or the strength he’s shown through family tragedy — there are plenty of reasons to root for Pacheco this summer. He’s yet another of the Chiefs’ late-round selections who is looking to outperform his draft stock — and he has plenty of motivation to get that done.

Look for the New Jersey kid to be used as change-of-pace back and as a kickoff returner — and keep an eye on what he does.

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