Dee Ford became the second defensive end selected in the 2014 NFL Draft after being taken by the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 23 overall pick. Ford was ranked No. 28 overall on the SB Nation top 200 big board and was third among defensive ends, behind only Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina and Kony Ealy of Missouri. He may already be more refined than both of them, however.
Ford was a two-year starter for Auburn and earned first-team All-SEC honors last year as part of a defensive unit that led the Tigers to an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game. In his final season with Auburn, Ford tallied 14.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks and was the team leader in each category.
As Joel Thorman from Arrowhead Pride explains, the Chiefs need a promising pass rusher like Ford to not only help in the interim but to become a staple in the future.
This is a move for the future of the pass rush. Justin Houston is entering the final year of his deal and will need a long-term contract, which will be a big one. Tamba Hali has two years left on his contract so adding a pass rusher for the future was something Chiefs fans considered before the draft.
He was particularly impressive during his time in Mobile, Ala. for the 2014 Senior Bowl, where he was a dominant force in the practices. That showing translated to the field as well, where he earned MVP honors after recording two sacks and a pass deflection.
Ford spoke with SB Nation's Dan Kadar and explained how he developed his skills to make up for some of his shortcomings, like size:
Ford's game is built around speed. That comes both naturally, and as a necessity. Ford is a 6'2, 250-pound defensive end. He's not a 6'5, 270-pound ultra athlete like other top pass rushers. Instead, Ford has relied on his speed and hustle to get by.
"I'm naturally fast for my size. As far as what I do with my game, you have to have a plan as a pass rusher," Ford said. "I picked two or three moves that I really love to do, and I perfected them. I really perfected them."
Pro Day results (sat out NFL Combine due to back injury)
Weight: 252 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds
Bench press: 29 reps of 225 pounds
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches
Broad jump: 124 inches
3-cone drill: 7.07 seconds
Ford's trip to the NFL Combine caused more harm than good after he was forced to sit out due to doctor's recommendations. While his strong showing at the Auburn pro day certainly helped quell those concerns, the fact that the injury stemmed from a malady that ended his 2011 season is something to keep an eye on. Still, if Ford is healthy he would appear to have the blend of athleticism and burst necessary to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL.