Class Procrastinator: Justin Houston
It’s no secret that budding star outside linebacker Justin Houston’s been absent from team activities thus far this offeason. He’s clearly holding out for a new contract. Houston missed last week’s mandatory minicamp and it’s unclear if he plans to report to Missouri Western State. For now, the team will have to do without one half of what NFL analyst Bucky Brooks calls the “league’s best pass-rushing duo.”
The Chiefs drafted Dee Ford in May to help bolster a passrush that wilted down the stretch last season. He’s seen time with the first team over the past month (in Houston’s absence), but he’s still learning to play without a hand on the ground. Ford was a defensive end in college and will need time to adjust to the NFL game and a modified position. The release of cornerback Brandon Flowers created a significant amount of cap space, but there’s no word from the team about how it will be spent. Quarterback Alex Smith has also been in negotiations with the team, on a new deal, and may be a higher priority for the front office.
Most Likely to Succeed: De’Anthony Thomas
I’ve rarely done myself any favors with predictions at Arrowhead Addict. I’ll spare you my other greatest misses. Who am I kidding? I’ll spare myself further damage to my credibility. I’m prepared to take another stab at it though. By the end of the 2014 season, I believe draftee De’Anthony Thomas will win the team’s Mack Lee Hill Award (awarded to the team’s top rookie as determined by players and coaches). This is a fairly safe prediction. With Quintin Demps and Dexter McCluster departed, there’s a gaping hole on Kansas City’s return teams.
Knile Davis will likely retain his place in the platoon, but other capable returnmen are needed. Thomas figures into the offensive equation, but I suspect his biggest contributions in year one will be on special teams. He was used primarily as a runningback and returnman in college. Maturing into what the Chiefs may want from him as a slot receiver is likely to be a process. Thomas should be able to hit the ground running with Toub’s return units though. He has superb field vision, is adept at using angles against would-be tacklers, has world-class speed, and the ability to change direction without slowing down. I expect DAT to be hell on earth for opposing coverage teams.
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Until next time, Addicts!