KC Chiefs: Can linebacker Mike Rose be a future sleeper?

Mike Rose of Iowa State. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
Mike Rose of Iowa State. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

Will undrafted linebacker Mike Rose be a future contributor for the Kansas City Chiefs after a standout career at Iowa State?

On May 7, 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs officially announced their 2022 undrafted free agent class, which included former Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose.

The Chiefs’ more high-profile UDFA signings along with Rose included wide receiver Justyn Ross, quarterback Dustin Crum, and running back Jerrion Ealy. Among the group of UDFA signings, Rose wasn’t even the only linebacker. The Chiefs also signed linebacker Jack Cochrane from the University of South Dakota.

Even though Rose isn’t the most popular Chiefs rookie free agent, he is an intriguing option who could find his way onto the active roster within the next couple of seasons. Let’s take a closer look at the 22-year-old Iowa State alumnus and how he could fit into the Chiefs’ plans in the next couple of years.


Rose was born on May 25, 2000, and hails from Brecksville, Ohio. He was a 3-star recruit out of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School in Broadview Heights. He was also a four-year starter, appearing in 49 games while recording 8.5 career sacks and 324  career total tackles for the Matt Campbell-led Cyclones.

My favorite fact about Rose was how he was named to three First-Team Academic All-Big 12 teams and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team in 2018. The best part about this is that he did it as a Mechanical Engineering major. As someone who graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree last year, in addition to having a sibling attending Iowa State studying another engineering discipline, this is extremely difficult. It took me a little while to learn how to balance a 12-hour work week while studying engineering, but Rose did it while working which amounts to a full-time job playing football.

What does all of that mean? Absolutely nothing. This is coming from the person who thought that Josh Dobbs would be a decent NFL QB, and his studying Aerospace Engineering at Tennessee was one of the reasons for thinking so.

Now let’s get back to football.

Scouting Report

According to Arif Hasan’s 2022 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board, Rose was ranked the 176th overall player in the 2022 NFL draft. Based on that ranking, it’s fair to assume that the Chiefs got great value in signing him as a UDFA instead of using a late 5th round or early 6th round selection on him.

At the 2022 NFL Draft Combine, Rose measured in at 6’3 7/8″ tall and weighed 245 pounds with 10 1/8″ and 33 1/4″ hand size and arm length, respectively. He also had a vertical jump of 34 inches and a broad jump of 10’1″ (or 121 inches).

According to Derrik Klassen of Bleacher Report, Rose has great overall size, has solid short-area agility, has a good trigger against zone run games and crashes his gaps efficiently, and is good in zone coverage. Damian Parson of The Draft Network wrote that he “Reads and diagnoses offensive blocking patterns/combinations. He diagnoses plays before they unfold. This allows him to play one step ahead.”

Also according to Klassen, Rose struggled in man coverage, needs to improve at taking blocks head-on, and needs to learn to play a little lower, which has caused tackling issues. Parson also said that Rose lacks enough flexibility to be a true edge player and is more of a north-south type of pass rusher in blitzing situations.

Overall, it’s tough to say if Rose can develop into a three-down linebacker at the NFL level. Klassen projected that he would be the best fit to play “Sam”. In my opinion, I agree with Klassen and project Rose’s best fit long-term fit in the NFL as a “Sam” linebacker who can potentially play in dime coverages down the road if he cleans up his issues with overall physicality.

Projection with the Chiefs

In terms of projection with the Chiefs, it’s always tough to predict how UDFAs develop as some will make an immediate impact, while others will never even dress for an NFL game, outside of preseason.

In the short term, Mike Rose has a long way to go before making the Chiefs’ active roster this September. Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, and Leo Chenal (barring anything unexpected) are locks to make the active roster in a couple of months. Also, I imagine that Jermaine Carter will make the team since the Chiefs wouldn’t save any of his $1.77M cap hit by cutting him in August/September.

For much of 2021, the Chiefs carried 5 linebackers (Bolton, Gay, Anthony Hitchens, Ben Niemann, and Dorian O’Daniel). With only 1 roster spot left, Rose is on the roster bubble and will have to compete with Elijah Lee, Jack Cochrane, and Darius Harris for the final roster.

The final spot will likely be determined by special teams coordinator Dave Toub, as O’Daniel (who played over 400 special teams snaps in 2021) is currently a free agent. With DoD not slated to return, the Chiefs are going to have to replace his role on the roster and Rose can absolutely be a special teamer and potential backup linebacker in run situations in ’22.

Looking at the long term, it appears Rose will eventually have to overtake Jermaine Carter and also beat out other roster bubble players, such as Jack Cochrane and Elijah Lee, in future years as well in order to make the 53-man roster as a regular player for the Chiefs.

In my opinion, the best-case scenario for Rose is that he develops into an above-average rotational linebacker. Think Ben Niemann (not because of the connection to the state of Iowa) except less frustrating. But realistically, Rose, as with almost every undrafted player, faces a tall hill to make the 53-man roster his rookie season. I project that he is among the final cuts of training camps, but will then be promptly re-signed to the practice squad, if he clears waivers, and will also be the first linebacker elevated when the situation arises.

How do you project Rose will be in the NFL? Do you think he makes the Week 1 roster? Let me know in the comment section, or on Twitter (@StrozinskyLucas).

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