Here is the “Before the First Preseason Game” edition of the Chiefs Rookie Stock watch, where we will chart the ups and downs of the some the Chiefs’ key rookies for the 2013 season.
1. Tyler Bray (Previously: n/a)
We know he has the arm. We know he has the size. We don’t know if he has the head.
Bray has received rave reviews from everybody who has visited camp. Whether it is the media, fans, or teammates, all of them come back raving about Bray’s tools. It seems every answer to a Bray question starts with “How did this guy not get drafted?” and ends with some variation of “You just got to hope he doesn’t have a 10 cent head.”
This is why tonight is a big night for Bray’s stock. It is going to be interesting to watch Bray’s body language and decision-making. He’s having to learn a completely new and complex system, so mistakes should be expected. But to a certain degree, football is football. Will he try to fit pass in to a wide receiver who is double covered? Will he lose control of his emotions after a bad play? Will he be able to command the huddle? These are the questions we’re going to start getting answers for tonight, and it’s key because we’re not going to see much more of him until next spring once preseason is over.
But if he’s show progress, then the Bray hype machine is going to go into overdrive.
2. Nico Johnson (Previously: n/a)
The closest camp battle seems to be between Johnson and Akeem Jordan for the starting middle linebacker spot next to Derrick Johnson. To some degree, this competition isn’t too big of a deal as that position will be off the field whenever the Chiefs have to move into nickel packages. But it does matter in terms of the Chiefs getting better at stopping the run up the middle.
Much has been made about the Chiefs inability to get a rush up the middle on passing and running plays, and that blame has gone mostly on the lack of a true 3-4 nose tackle. But part of the problem has also been the inability for the second middle linebacker next to Johnson to be able to make plays at the line of scrimmage or behind it. KC has lacked that run-stuffing middle linebacker ever since they moved to the 3-4.
Johnson was known for his physical nature at the line of scrimmage, and has look good so far in camp. If he and Jordan can continue to battle for that role, then the depth at the middle linebacker position may end up being better than we thought it would be heading into camp.
3. Travis Kelce (Previously: n/a)
I want to see Kelce on the field more than any player the Chiefs acquired this offseason. His attitude and skill set could end up filling a huge void on the Chiefs offense. Watch his highlight tapes and you’ll understand what I mean. He can be the aggressive downfield blocker for Charles while also being a playmaking receiving threat.
His biggest contribution may be in the red zone, where he could be the third option the Chiefs have needed to pair with Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. I’m interested to see how he is used in those situations tonight should the opportunity arise.
4. Knile Davis (Previously: n/a)
The two knocks on Davis when he was drafted at the end of the third round was that he fumbles too much and he is often hurt.
For the most part this camp he has held onto the ball and is he is still healthy, so that’s good start on that front. Davis has been returning punts and kicks during camp, which has been the cause for most of his fumbling problems so far in camp whenever it does happen. He never returned punts or kicks in college so this is a new skill he is trying to learn. If he can figure it out, however, he would be a dynamic return man with his size and speed.
5. Eric Fisher (Previously: n/a)
The transition to the right side has been tough for Fisher, according to, well, Fisher. He’s said a few times in interviews that he is a little surprised about how difficult the transition has been, that it is a whole new world on the right side as compared to the left side.
It isn’t a surprise that there would be some transition involved in switching sides, but it is a little nerve-racking none the less. When you’re selecting number one overall, you are hoping for an athlete who is ready to hit the ground running even if he has to adjust his game a little bit. And while it could be argued the position change is more than “a little bit” of a change, it isn’t one that can’t be made. Several players have successfully switched from left to right tackle and didn’t miss a beat. If Fisher is truly a number one overall pick then he should look pretty solid right from the get go.
And that includes tonight.