Draft choices showcase toughness Chiefs sought in rookie class

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If any question existed about who ranked as the strongest player on the Florida State football last year, Chiefs rookie defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi confidently ended the debate during the opening of the team’s rookie minicamp.

“I was,” said Nnadi, who measures in at 6-foot-2 and 316 pounds and can squat lift 750 pounds and bench press 525.

Chiefs rookie defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi lines up for drills during the first day of the team’s rookie minicamp at the club’s training facility in Kansas City, Mo., on May 5, 2018. (Photo by Matt Derrick, ChiefsDigest.com)

“As a defensive lineman you deal with a lot of double teams, sometimes triple teams,” Nnadi explained. “Offensive linemen are one of the biggest dudes on the field, sometimes the strongest dudes on the field, so you’ve got to have a lot of strength to maneuver towards all those big men, so it really is a plus in my game.”

Nnadi and the team’s other early-round draft picks understand the reasoning that brought them to Kansas City. The Chiefs want a tougher, more aggressive defensive full of fire and grit. They want good dudes who play like really bad dudes.

Edge rusher Breeland Speaks holds no doubts why the club selected him in the second round of the draft.

“They think I’m tough, that’s the first thing that pops to mind,” Speaks said. “That was one of the reasons they brought me in, basically that I was a tough player and that I added something to their defense.”

Speaks sees the same toughness in his new teammate Nnadi, who thrives on the occupying the middle of the field.

“I knew Derrick Nnadi was a space eater for sure,” Speaks said. “I watched Nnadi at Florida State along with Josh Sweat and those guys so I already knew what we was getting.”

Nnadi feels line play “controls how a game goes,” and he wants responsibility for carrying the load for his team.

“Honestly, I feel like when it comes to defensive line that’s where in a sense the big dogs take place,” Nnadi said. “So I feel like the D-line’s one of most – not only the most but one of the most important spots on the field.”

The Chiefs drafted five defensive players with their first five picks in the draft. The mission of instilling more toughness into a NFL team brings this group together, according to third-round linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.

“I think it’s a credit to Kansas City for drafting the right kind of guys,” O’Daniel said. “I think that’s the way it should be with teammates. Bringing in a group of rookies that are all defensive we have to stick together and we have to form a relationship.”

Saturday’s initial minicamp practice provided a glimpse of the future of the Kansas City defense. Speaks lined up as a pass rusher on the right side of the first-team defense. Nnadi anchored the defensive line with O’Daniel patrolling the middle at Will linebacker. Safety Armani Watts and cornerback Tremon Smith battened down the secondary. It’s not hard envision a future with all five taking to the turf at Arrowhead Stadium a few football fields away from the team’s training facility.

Just one day into the club’s rookie minicamp, the five defensive rookies already share a common bond. Nnadi says they also understand they have work to do.

“They drafted me for a reason to be here for a reason work on defense, to try to improve the defense,” Nnadi said. “And come together all the defensive players that got drafted, we kind of clicked as soon as we met each other. I feel that’s a bond, since we’re already cool with each other we can really try to better ourselves that much more.”

O’Daniel believes that Bond should help this rookie class develop chemistry that permeates through the defense.

“Because if we form a relationship off the field it will definitely show on the field and being able to communicate,” O’Daniel said. “Even today, me and Breeland being able to communicate because we’re on the same side on some plays. So just having that chemistry off the field definitely will translate well.”


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.