KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defense dominated the first day of the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp on Saturday, but on Sunday the offense started flexing its muscles a bit as players picked up the offense and started executing more effectively.
The defense still represented well with second-round draft pick Breeland Speaks remaining a dominating force off the edge. But the receiving corps led by 2017 college free agent Gehrig Dieter and supported by free agent tight end Blake Mack also impressed.
Mack, a 6-foot-2, 235-pounder from Arkansas State, continues to seemingly catch everything within his reach during minicamp. He made two tough catches on back-to-back plays among his many grabs. Mack is among the 14 college free agents signed by the Chiefs ahead of the rookie minicamp. He appears poised to battle for a tight end spot during training camp and could potentially fulfill an H-back role.
Two of Kansas City’s 2017 college free agents participating in rookie minicamp continue to standout. Dieter made several big catches, including a big reception down the sideline on a well-placed throw from rookie quarterback Chase Litton. Litton also connected with returning wide receiver Marcus Kemp on one of the biggest plays of the day, a long bomb down the sideline dropping perfectly into Kemp’s outstretched hands for a touchdown.
McKenzie settles in at left guard
One of the biggest curiosities at the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp focuses on sixth-round draft pick Kahlil McKenzie, who began taking the first steps toward playing left guard after spending his college career on the defensive line.
So far McKenzie looks comfortable. His tree-trunk size legs catch everyone’s attention but his footwork and hands appear smooth. He’s even taken a few reps at center as well.
“Trying to take everything in, be a sponge right now,” McKenzie said. “That’s the big thing. Just trying to take all the information I’m getting and apply it to the field as soon as possible.”
McKenzie said he’s getting plenty of advice on the transition from both teammates and family members. Chiefs offensive lineman Cameron Erving played defensive tackle as a freshman at Florida State before moving to the offensive line as a sophomore. His uncle Raleigh McKenzie — twin brother of dad Reggie, general manager of the Oakland Raiders — spent 16 seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman.
Spending time around his father helped prepare McKenzie for life as a professional football player, and he finds himself leaning on the experience now.
“You grow up wanting to do this your whole life being around guys who are doing this for their jobs,” McKenzie said. “You get a lot of love for it, a lot of respect for those guys, the time they’ve put in. I’m just trying to take that same approach that I’ve seen other guys take to it.”
Smith applies offensive skills to defense
Fellow sixth-round draft pick Tremon Smith made the opposite switch from McKenzie starting his college career, moving from the offensive side to the defensive side.
Smith set a school-record for touchdown passes at Saks High School in Anniston, Ala. He did play cornerback at Saks as well, but he moved to defense full-time once he arrived at Central Arkansas.
“At first, I was asking my defensive coordinator — he was the one that recruited me — to get me on the offensive side and at least have a package,” Smith said about staying involved in offense during college. “In the long run, I started getting better at it, started learning my position and the ins and outs of cornerback. I fell in love with it real quick.”
But Smith said he learned many skills on the offensive side that relate to his job at cornerback, particular ball skills.
“Ninth through eleventh grade I played receiver,” Smith said. “I always was able to go high-point the ball. I knew when I went to defense I wanted the ball in my hand, I missed having the ball. It just made me play more hungry, wanting to be a playmaker.”
Notes: Smith intercepted a pass and continues to show the aggressive nose for the ball that he demonstrated at Central Arkansas with 15 interceptions and 53 passes defended in 36 career starts. … Former Occidental quarterback Bryan Scott moved to No. 2 on the minicamp depth chart Sunday ahead of Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow. … Litton, the 6-foot-5 quarterback from Marshall, remains the No. 1 quarterback at rookie minicamp and appears poised to enter offseason workouts as the team’s fourth quarterback battling Matt McGloin for the No. 3 spot. … Cornerback Arrion Springs from Oregon continues to look strong in rookie minicamp and maybe a threat to compete for a roster spot come training camp.
Quotes of the day
“Because he wasn’t the type of player that wasn’t going to let you get by just because he was at a smaller school. He was a hard-working player at Central Arkansas and he was a competitor. I knew he had a chance of making it to the NFL.” — wide receiver Byron Pringle on playing against cornerback Tremon Smith during Kansas State’s 55-19 win over Central Arkansas last season.
“We’re twins so we shared a womb. We’re right, maybe closer than me and Eric is. And the plus, Cleveland paid him.” — Safety Elliott Berry on his relationship with twin brother Evan and why his sibling signed as a free agent with the Browns instead of the Chiefs.
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.