What To Expect From The Chiefs’ Dee Ford

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Last May, Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey took Auburn Tigers outside linebacker/defensive end Dee Ford with the 24th-overall pick. It was considered a stunning move for a team desperately in need of wide receivers in a draft chock full of them.

We now know Dorsey had no intentions of drafting a receiver. He passed on them consistently, ultimately leaving many Chiefs fans with confusion, and a pass-rusher without an obvious way to contribute in 2014. Ford was clearly coming in to learn from Tamba Hali and Justin Houston before eventually replacing the former, with Hali scheduled to make more than $13 million in 2015.

Yet, the situation played out differently than expected. While Houston was predictably given the franchise tag, Hali publicly stated he was open to taking a pay cut before going so to the tune of $7 million. So what to do with Ford?

Expect defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to play all three at once. In the first three months of last year’s regular season, Ford sparingly saw the field with meaningful snaps. In fact, Ford played 211 total snaps, translating to 11.5 percent of the total defensive snaps. Here’s how they break down by game:

Week 1 vs. Titans: 3
Week 2 vs. Broncos: 6
Week 3 vs. Dolphins: 13
Week 4 vs. Patriots: 4
Week 5 vs. 49ers: 6
Week 6: BYE
Week 7 vs. Chargers: 0
Week 8 vs. Rams: 16
Week 9 vs. Jets: 0
Week 10 vs. Bills: 2
Week 11 vs. Seahawks: 0
Week 12 vs. Raiders: 0
Week 13 vs. Broncos: 0
Week 14 vs. Cardinals: 15
Week 15 vs. Raiders: 38
Week 16 vs. Steelers: 5
Week 17 vs. Chargers: 14

So what do we see? Ford saw little time after making his infamously ugly play against the 49ers. In the following seven games, Ford played 18 snaps combined. Over the last quarter of the campaign, Ford was in for 72 snaps.

Other than having Hali and Houston ahead of Ford on the depth chart, there is another reason he won’t be seeing regular playing time without an injury. Ford’s run defense was poor in his rookie season, failing to hold the edge at times, while also struggling to disengage offensive linemen. Head coach Andy Reid noted that problem, while discussing Ford’s future, per KCChiefs.com.

"“Dee will just take another step forward [in 2015],” he said. “He’s more familiar with everything. We moved positions for him where he had to be a linebacker instead of a defensive end, so there was a lot of learning that goes on there. It takes a young guy some time to digest all that, but I think it will be a win-win for everybody.”"

While Ford is learning how to play the run and drop into coverage with better results, Sutton will be getting creative to use Ford’s talents without hurting Hali and Houston’s productivity.

Go to the next page to see a screenshot of how Sutton will likely try to get Ford on the field for passing situations on second and third down.