Last week, I wrote about how I hated the decision to select Georgia QB Aaron Murray in the 5th round, and AA commenters agreed with me unanimously. Well, now it’s time to point out the pick that I’m a huge fan of — RB De’Anthony Thomas in the 4th.
I know that there are some people at AA who have the reverse opinion about these two picks, but I think DAT will be the gem of this class and has the potential to be a major contributor moving forward.
First, while the defense got most of the credit for the Chiefs early success, I think it is easy to gloss over just how critical special teams were to the team throughout the season. Part of the reason the offense was putting up such anemic numbers during the team’s undefeated streak was because the return units were doing a lot of their work for them.
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For one, the team always had a shorter field to work with. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs started with the best average field position on drives in 2013, beginning on average at their own 32.74 yard-line. Outsiders also gave the Chiefs’ special teams a weighted DVOA of 9.2%, which led the league head and shoulders about the rest (here’s a complicated explanation of how that is compiled).
In other words, special teams were a big part of what made the Chiefs dominant last year, and in order to maintain that identity it was crucial that the team fill the production that would be lost from the departure of returners WR Dexter McCluster and S Quintin Demps. Filling that hole is DAT, who certainly looks like a more prolific returner than either of the guys he is replacing.
Obviously, highlight reels are just that, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a highlight tape for a non-QB that is literally 11 minutes of a player scoring touchdowns. But, that’s exactly what DAT has.