Now 27-years old, WR Mardy Gilyard is still looking to carve out a place in the National Football League. It would appear that search has landed him with the Chiefs. According to his own Twitter account, Gilyard signed a contact with Kansas City late last week.
A fourth round pick of the St. Louis Rams (99th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chiefs will be his fourth team in three years. Between the Rams in 2010 and the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, he’s hauled in just eight passes for 78 yards and is still looking for his first NFL TD. In Gilyard’s rookie season with St. Louis he also spent time returning kicks with 356 yards on 16 chances (22.3 yards per return) and returned two punts for the Eagles last season.
Prior to being drafted, Gilyard spent five years at the University of Cincinnati, though his back story and the long odds he overcame are far more fascinating than his exploits on the gridiron. As a junior he caught 81 passes for 1,276 yards and nearly replicated that with 87 catches and 1,191 yards as a senior. He hauled in 11 touchdowns in each of his last two seasons with the Bearcats. Gilyard was also effective in special teams with 5 return touchdowns between his junior and senior years. He ran back kicks both seasons and added punt return duties as a senior. Selected to play in the 2010 Senior Bowl, he was named the offensive player of the game with 5 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown.
His scouting report at the time of the draft spoke of a player with excellent athleticism, outstanding quickness and burst. While he lacks top end speed, he is far from slow and ran a 4.52 40-yard dash in pre-draft workouts. At 6’0″ and 190 lbs, he lacks the size teams look for in a starting wideout and is far from sure-handed. However it’s his ability to make people miss in the open field and use his quickness to generate separation from defenders that should appeal most to the Chiefs. The current WR corps in Kansas City are collectively woeful at generating space from their defenders, a facet that is grossly overlooked by those who focus solely on the poor QB play in recent seasons.
Even if he fails to crack the Chiefs’ WR rotation in 2013, and this could be his best chance as a professional, his return skills add value to his stock. Having spent time in Philadelphia last season, Gilyard has some familiarity with Andy Reidand the offensive system that Reid employed which will also work in Mardy’s favor.