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Thoughts on the 2002 draft


More by Ed Fulda
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When one talks about filling holes in a team's lineup, it's usually in the figurative sense. However, the top two picks in this year's draft are going to fill those holes literally. Six Hundred plus pounds worth of filling, to be exact. Given how poor the run defense has been the last two seasons, it's nice to see that Carl Peterson and Dick Vermeil used this year's draft to fix the problem.

Ryan Sims, the first round pick, becomes the fifth defensive lineman the Chiefs have drafted with a top-six pick. The previous picks were Art Still, Mike Bell, Bill Maas, and Neil Smith. Sims, at 6-4, 311, has some big footprints to follow. Sims has the tools to become every bit as good as the others were and he should contribute heavily right from day one. He'd better, as the Chiefs gave up a third round pick and a sixth round pick in next year's draft to move up to be able to draft him.

The second round pick, Eddie Freeman, is not quite the sure-fire pick that Sims was. On paper, he looks impressive (6-5, 310, and has turned in a 4.9 in the 40) and he seems to be a very intense player. However, he comes from a small school (Alabama-Birmingham) and he tends to play high and with a poor base. Bottom line is that he could be either very good or very average. Fortunately, Chiefs DL Coach Bob Karmelowicz is one of the best in the business and he should be able to correct Freeman's techniques. It may take a year or two, however, before he moves into the starting lineup.

The fourth round selection was FB Omar Easy from Penn State. He has size and speed (6-1, 244, 4.49 in the 40), but he is woefully short of experience. Most of his playing time this season will have to come on special teams, but he's an interesting pick who might become a pleasant surprise.

LBs Scott Fujita (fifth) and Maurice Rodriguez (seventh) are both going to have to earn a roster spot initially based on their special teams play. Fujita, at least, has the physical tools to work with (6-5, 248, and has been clocked at 4.7 in the 40). He needs a lot of coaching, however, and he doesn't always show good awareness on the field. I would expect that he might end up taking over for Lew Bush at the "Sam" position in a couple of years. Rodriguez will probably end up on the Physically-unable-to-Perform list this year due to a bum shoulder.

All in all, it was a decent draft. The grade will rise if Freeman provides significant contributions this season and if Easy & Fujita help improve special teams coverage. The team now has to concentrate on the problems at CB and finding some more wide receivers.






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