Every player comes to NFL training camp with some expectation. Stars aren’t necessarily expected to do much to prove themselves at training camp in hopes of staying healthy. Some veterans might want to prove they can still compete with the younger players. Meanwhile, some young players are doing everything they can to stay on a 53-man NFL roster. These special players are always fun stories to follow during training camp, these are the undrafted free agents. It’s no different with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City had a rich and relatively valuable lineup of draft picks in April. The team even made headlines immediately after signing some undrafted free agents. Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross has been seen as one of the more divisive players in the UDFA class. Health was the biggest question mark for him after a productive collegiate career in the field. Unfortunately for him and the Chiefs, that health fortune didn’t materialize this year. Kansas City recently put him on injured reserve after his foot surgery. As a result, he is out for the entire season. The Chiefs will hide him in hopes he gets a chance to contend for a spot next season.
Ross likely would have topped that list of UDFAs who could make Kansas City’s 53-man roster. Nonetheless, there are still some worthy undrafted free-agent candidates for Chiefs fans to keep an eye on during training camp and the preseason. Who are some of these UDFA players who could end up earning a place in the active squad? We will list three names to keep a star on the depth map. Let’s get started.
WR/RB Jerrion Ealy
A lightweight college running back, height issues always seemed to surround Jerrion Ealy while he was at Ole Miss. Standing up as a blocker and against contact was questionable in general. However, Ealy answered the bell in these areas often enough when he had to. During his time with the Rebels, he surpassed 2,200 rushing yards and nearly 550 receiving yards in 33 games.
While size was a potential downside to its draft arsenal, Ealy brings a wide range of pluses to the table. His lightning speed, long speed and slippery are immediately noticeable. Additionally, despite his size as a running back, Ealy added significant toughness, contact balance, and power. He even gave Ole Miss a fair bit of versatility. For example, his ability to return and receive seemed to improve as his college career deepened.
Interestingly, the Chiefs used Ealy primarily as a wide receiver for the early parts of training camp. He may not have the most experience playing the position. His athleticism and speed alone help Ealy shine and pass in this Andy Reid offense. If he made the team, the offensive weapon could be used as a gadget threat in many areas. Ealy can earn money with the Chiefs with items like screen passes, end-arounds or even kick returns.
LB Mike Rose
During his time at Iowa State, linebacker Mike Rose received many numerous awards. These included two first-team All-Big 12 selections, a three-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection, and a 2021 Rotary Lombardi Award finalist. Not long ago, Rose was also named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (2020). He was also a captain for the Cyclones in the middle of their defense.
Rose may have tremendous size as a linebacker for today’s fast-paced game. However, this is a player who can wear many different hats on the second level of a defense. Rose is multidimensional from a physical point of view due to his ability to dash downhill, jump from sideline to sideline, and diagnose reads or tendencies in midfield. From an instinctive standpoint, Rose can be just as deadly against opposing offenses. His timing is spot on when attacking the football. While it remains adequately proportioned in terms of its angles and distances in its location and recognition of landmarks. Finally, Rose does well to play a calm style before firing from a cannon, which allows her to often surprise the opponent.
The Chiefs have quickly built a more solid linebacker space in recent years. Nick Bolton, Willie Gay and even Leo Chenal have huge expectations this season. However, Rose is the player style that Steve Spagnuolo might look to to do some dirty work in a deep role. His comfort in terms of coverage and power as a tackler would be a great asset for the Chiefs. Rose may also be able to find an early role on special teams.
LB Jack Cochrane
This player is another linebacker fans should keep an eye on at Chiefs training camp. Unlike Rose or Ealy, this UDFA didn’t come from the Power Five school. Jack Cochrane appeared for the South Dakota defense in five seasons. During his time with the Coyotes, he recorded over 300 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 16 pass breakups, six interceptions, five sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. As a result, Cochrane was able to produce against both the run and the pass.
The qualities that stand out most to Cochrane may not be sexy per se. Nonetheless, he’s fairly relentless in everything he does, seems to play with burning hair, and is a skilled tackler or hitter. Being able to provide the necessary snaps in close range situations or even obvious passing situations creates enticing opportunities for Cochrane. He can affect the game by blitzing, darning the run, or even reading the quarterback’s eyes from cover. If that never said the approach struck Kansas City coaches, Cochrane has a shot at making the Chiefs.
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