By now, the Kansas City Chiefs’ fan base is intimately familiar with the eight new names selected this past weekend in the 2013 NFL Draft. However, there are over twenty other players the fans may not know so well. These new additions to the Chiefs’ Kingdom are the undrafted free agent class signed by the Chiefs following the draft and also a number of players that are invited to the team’s rookie minicamp that will essentially be getting tryouts.
In an effort to get to know these long shots for the Chiefs’ final 53 man roster in September, I reached out to one of the Chiefs’ minicamp invites, running back Jordan Roberts from the University of Charleston-West Virginia
Coming from a small Division II school like UC-WV, there wasn’t a whole lot of information on the web about Roberts. I did manage to find an interview with Pat Kirkland, Roberts’ college coach at UC-WV in an article written by Mike Whiteford of the Charleston Gazette.
"Most of the NFL teams have contacted us. A number of those teams have been on campus looking at Jordan and a couple other guys, but obviously Jordan’s the main one. He’s got the speed, talent, work ethic. He’s a very coachable young man.– Pat Kirkland"
Jordan hails from the small town of Yawkey, WV which is just south of Charleston, West Virginia. While not highly scouted coming out of high school despite owning two West Virginia state records of 3,826 rushing yards and 48 TDs his senior season, he originally attended and redshirted at West Virginia before leaving for Charleston.
Entering his professional career will be a bit different. While Jordan wasn’t drafted, the UC-WV coach did receive scouting interest from nearly every team in the NFL. I asked Jordan if the Chiefs worked him out prior to his selection as a UDFA.
"No, the Chiefs did not previously work me out, but a scout was present at my pro day at Fairmont State in West Virginia. I did speak with one of the Chiefs scouts on the phone a couple times to gather my information for their records."
As draft day came and went and Jordan realized he wasn’t going to be drafted, he began to prepare for the next step, which was the undrafted free agency frenzy. I asked him where he was when he got the call from the Chiefs.
"I planned to be at a location where I would have cell phone service during and after the draft because the reception at my home is spotty so I spent the day in Charleston, WV. I was so pumped when I received a call from the Chiefs inviting me to minicamp!"
In researching for this interview, I watched some tape on Jordan. His running style is impressive and he is quite strong and shows great muscle tone. I was curious who Jordan thought his play style most closely resembled and who he idolized growing up.
"I like to compare myself to Marshall Faulk because he is my all-time favorite running back and was a versatile player who won some Super Bowl’s. Similarly to him, I want to be known as a team player who can contribute and do a multitude of things to help the Chiefs win games and hopefully a Super Bowl."
The Chiefs stable of back field studs, currently includes eight running backs (including Roberts) on the roster. Jordan is fighting an uphill battle before he even begins, to make the roster. If he should get one of those spots, he would be playing behind one of the most prolific running backs in the NFL, Jamaal Charles. For a young up and coming player, that’s a huge a deal. I asked Jordan what it meant to him.
"It means a lot to play with one of the best running backs in the NFL. I hope to learn a lot from his experience as a top rusher in the NFL so I can better my game. I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn from the best!"
Sometimes, the best way for an undrafted free agent to make the squad is via outstanding special teams play. Roberts can fit this bill to a tee. In addition to being a well above average half back, he played on all special teams in college, to including kick returner.
"My versatility allows me to be used as a kick returner and on special teams as well as at running back. I will play wherever the team needs me. I’m determined and driven to work hard to better myself for the overall success of the Chiefs."
I will say I like this kid. I know that at the running back position he’s a long shot to be on the roster in September. But, never say never. Over 20% of players currently in the NFL are undrafted and as I said in the initial report announcing Jordan’s signing to the Chiefs, I like to watch the UDFA running backs the most because they seem to make the biggest impact. The last question I asked Jordan had to do with his favorite team. I was just hoping he wasn’t a Raiders fan.
"I have always been a Saint Louis Rams [because of his hero Marshall Faulk] and Indianapolis Colts fan, but that all changed Saturday night when I got the call from the Chiefs! Now I’m a Chiefs fan and there isn’t any other place I would rather be than Kansas City!"
Good answer, Jordan. We’re glad you’re here too.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story indicated that the Chiefs had signed Roberts. He is not one of the 13 undrafted free agents KC announced yesterday. He appears to be a minicamp invite, meaning he will participate in the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis but does not have a contract with the team.