Nicolas, 25, joined Kansas City as a sixth-round pick in 2016, and the Chiefs soon announced their intention to move him from defensive end to linebacker. The position switch never quite off the ground, however, as Nicolas appeared sparingly in 11 games during his rookie campaign before a ruptured patellar ended his season. He hasn’t seen the field since.
The Chiefs actually completed a trade involving Nicolas earlier this year, sending him to the Browns in exchange for tight end Randall Telfer. That deal was later voided, however, and though no specific reason was given, failed physicals are known to regularly cancel transactions. Cleveland and Kansas City subsequently waived their respective players, and Telfer failed a physical upon being claimed by the Colts.
At 6″3, 225 pounds, Nicolas could conceivably see time at either linebacker or defensive end, but given his collegiate work, it’s seems likely Nicolas will play on the edge in one way or another. He joins a Seahawks edge rushing crew that also includes Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Marcus Smith, plus rookies Rasheem Green and Shaquem Griffin.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
On Tuesday, the Browns agreed to send Telfer, a tight end, to the Chiefs for Nicolas, a linebacker. It’s not immediately clear why the trade has been cancelled. Failed physicals are often the culprit for cancelled deals and Nicolas, who missed all of January with a ruptured patellar tendon, may not have passed his exam.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Browns are well set at tight end with holdovers David Njoku, Seth DeValve, and free agent addition Darren Fells, so Telfer became expendable this offseason. The 2016 sixth-round pick started in 14 games for the Browns last season, but he caught just three passes for 36 yards and finished a distant third amongst Cleveland TEs in catches. The new regime didn’t see a place on the roster for Telfer, which is understandable since he is a blocking specialist and Fells is viewed as a better one.
Nicolas, 26 in September, appeared in eleven games for the Chiefs in 2016. Unfortunately, a ruptured patellar tendon suffered in January of last year cost him his entire 2017 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Texans haven’t tried to hit a home run after losing quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season, as they’ve re-inserted Tom Savage as the starter while signing T.J. Yates, Josh Johnson, and Matt McGloin (since released). While Colin Kaepernick stands out as one signal-caller who could potentially aid Houston, there’s another free agent quarterback who could also make sense for the Texans: former Redskins/Browns passer Robert Griffin III.
“Deshaun’s an incredible player with a really bright future,” Griffin told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “I feel like I could help him after my experiences with Washington and Cleveland. I feel like I could help the team. I know a lot of their guys. I think I can do a lot of things they’ve been doing offensively. Texas is home, and I’ve always got a soft spot in my heart for Texas.”
Kaepernick, who notably starred collegiately in Texas at Baylor University, has been linked to a number of clubs this offseason — including the Seahawks, Chargers, and Ravens — but has yet to land a contract. While he’s certainly struggled in recent campaigns, he could theoretically offer upside that Savage, Yates, and Johnson do not. However, the Texans haven’t shown any indication that they plan to move away from Savage in the near future.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy is considered a “hot name” in NFL circles and could be a head coaching candidate in 2018, according to Michael Lombardi of the Ringer (Twitter link). Nagy doesn’t call plays in Kansas City (head coach Andy Reid handles that duty), but the 39-year-old has helped orchestrate an exotic offense that’s featured career-best performance from quarterback Alex Smith and excellent contributions from young players such as Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill. At present, the Chiefs ranks third in offensive DVOA, fifth in yards, and fifth in scoring.
- Special-teamer Matthew Slater suffered a “serious” hamstring injury in the Patriots‘ Week 10 victory over the Broncos and could now be sidelined for multiple games, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. A wide receiver in name only, Slater also missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring issue. He’s played only eight offensive snaps this year, but has seen time on a quarter of New England’s special teams plays. The Patriots are a top-five special teams unit in DVOA, as they have been in six of the past seven seasons.
- Linebacker Dadi Nicolas (Chiefs) and cornerback Demetri Goodson (Packers) have both begun practicing and now have a 21-day window during which they can be activated from the physically unable to perform list, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter links). As Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes, the Chiefs are dealing with a number of injuries at linebacker, meaning Nicolas — who appeared in 11 games a season ago — could provide depth. Goodson made three starts for Green Bay in 2016 before going down with a torn ACL.
- The Packers worked out running back Dare Ogunbowale on Wednesday while the Giants took a look at kicker Marshall Koehn, tweets Balzer. Green Bay is dealing with injuries to both Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery, so the club is looking for backfield options. New York, meanwhile, has now auditioned kickers in two consecutive days, a sign the team could be frustrated with incumbent Aldrick Rosas‘ 66.7% field goal conversion rate.
The Chiefs are all legal eagle. Here’s how they got down to a 53-man roster:
- Ricky Ali’ifua, DL
- De’Vante Bausby, CB
- Orson Charles, TE
- Joseph Cheek, OL
- Gehrig Dieter, WR
- Gavin Escobar, TE
- Sam Ficken, K
- Jacoby Glenn, CB
- Trevon Hartfield, CB
- Donald Hawkins, T
- Josh James, T
- Seantavius Jones, WR
- Tevin Jones, WR
- Marcus Kemp, WR
- Damien Mama, G
- Justin March-Lillard, LB
- Leon McQuay, S
- Earl Okine, LB
- Mike Person, OL
- Devine Redding, RB
- Marcus Rush, LB
- Larry Scott, CB
- C.J. Spiller, RB (story)
- Joel Stave, QB
- Tony Stevens, WR
- Maurice Swain, DT
- Steven Terrell, S
- Cam Thomas, DT
- Andrew Tiller, G
- Robert Wheelwright, WR
Tuesday’s minor moves:
- The Lions have signed offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds and promoted cornerback Adairius Barnes from the practice squad, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets. They’ll replace offensive tackle Corey Robinson (foot) and cornerback Asa Jackson (ankle), who were put on IR. To fill Barnes’ vacated spot on the practice squad, the team signed O-lineman Jason Weaver, a source told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
- The Chiefs have signed outside linebacker Victor Ochi off the Jets’ practice squad and placed linebacker Dadi Nicolas on IR, tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Ochi will now go from a team whose season is over to one with a first-round playoff bye.
- The Seahawks have signed long snapper Tyler Ott, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Ott will take over for Nolan Frese, who’s done for the season because of an ankle injury. Elsewhere on the roster, Seattle will waive safety Tyvis Powell to make room for new addition Devin Hester, per ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link).
The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?
To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.
Today, we continue PFR’s Impact Rookie series with his insight on the Kansas City Chiefs’ draft class:
It was far from exciting for Kansas City fans when the Chiefs introduced their cache from the recent NFL Draft. While some fans recognized the need to improve the pass protection up front after KC quarterbacks were sacked 46 times last year (tied for sixth worst in the league), rather than bulking up the offensive line, they first cut guard Ben Grubbs, let right tackle Jeff Allen sign a four-year deal with Houston, and then traded away the No. 28 pick to San Francisco, only to see the 49ers take one of the better guard prospects available – Stanford’s Josh Garnett. While the fans were clamoring for a big body in the first round, Kansas City did manage to secure from the 49ers their second round pick (No. 37 overall), a fourth round choice (No. 105), and a sixth round selection (No. 178 through Dallas) in this year’s draft during the exchange.
So what does KC have in Jones and the rest of its 2016 rookie class? Let’s dive in:
Second Round – Chris Jones, DE/DT (Mississippi State, No. 37 overall)
Several teams had Jones pegged as a late first round prospect, but the Chiefs see him as a capable edge rusher with the ability to slide inside when they go to a four-man front. Still, other teams felt that the junior would have been better served remaining in school and continuing his development for another year. In 2014, he posted 26 tackles, but just 3.5 of those stops came from behind the line of scrimmage. He shifted from the weak-side to strong-side tackle last season, picking up second-team All-American honors after he delivered 44 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 7.5 stops-for-loss.
Jones might not have those eye-catching numbers you expect from an elite prospect, but even with 5.5 sacks combined his last two seasons, the Chiefs felt that he was further along than most of the defensive linemen still left in the draft. They realize that he needs refinement and lacks an array of pass rush moves, but he uses his hands exceptionally well to rip and swim. With his balance, he demonstrates the ability to execute an effective spin move, despite the fact that he tends to get high in his stance (he has a good center of gravity, though).
On film, you see that Jones’ high motor allows him to close in on a ball carrier quickly. Has a lot of range, makes a good portion of his tackles outside the box. With his balance, he gets out in space well, looking like an oversized linebacker. He’s quite light on his feet when he has to be, and you can see that he has that wiggle in his hips needed to make the last second moves to avoid the brunt of a blocker’s punch. When he keeps a low pad level, he generates much better explosion off the snap, but when he fails to deliver on his initial move, his feet stop and his arms get a little out of control at the point of attack, which allows blockers to get a piece of his jersey.
Still, for a player his size, he does a nice job of fitting into tight spaces. I doubt if he will ever be regarded as a pass rusher, as he is more suited in being a one-gap type of penetrator that can alter the lane of a running back. He must be conscious of low blocks though and has to do a better job of recognizing double teams, as failure to do so will result in Jones being driven back by that strong double team duo. In one-on-one battles, it is a completely different story, as the Bulldog uses his long arms and powerful hands to make it very difficult for a blocker to lock on to him, especially when he shows confidence in the power he delivers out his hands and arms.
Continue reading about the Chiefs’ rookie class..
The Chargers announced on Wednesday that they have named Louis Clark the team’s senior director of pro personnel. Clark most recently held the same position with the Eagles. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2013, Clark spent 16 seasons in the Jaguars’ player personnel department as a college scout, assistant director of pro personnel, and director of pro personnel. Clark and GM Tom Telesco have known each other for some time, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link) notes.
Here’s more from out of the NFL’s West divisions, including a few notes on one of San Diego’s division rivals:
- Veteran edge defender Dwight Freeney, who had eight sacks in 11 games for the Cardinals last season, identified Arizona as a team he’d like to play for in 2016 during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter today. However, Freeney said that if the Cards don’t want to bring him back, he’d still like to get a chance to continue his career with another winning team. The 14-year veteran turned 36 in February.
- Chiefs GM John Dorsey told SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link) says that he tried to move up in the first round of the draft, but the cost proved to be too high. Instead, Kansas City traded back, and Dorsey says he still got the guy he wanted in defensive tackle Chris Jones.
- Dorsey expects contract negotiations with safety Eric Berry to be a “slow process,” but the two sides continue to have dialogue (link). Because Berry received the franchise tag, he and the Chiefs have until July 15th to work out a multiyear deal. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement by that point, Berry would be in line to play out the 2016 season on his $10.806MM franchise salary.
- More from Dorsey (link): According to the GM, Chiefs seventh-round pick Dadi Nicolas will be converted from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Jets are currently pursuing free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer, but the Bears could enter the mix for his services if he doesn’t end up in New York, reports Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. Hoyer would be the backup to Jay Cutler in Chicago, which lacks an ideal reserve option. Neither David Fales nor Matt Blanchard has taken a regular-season snap, and Hoyer has an obvious connection to the Bears’ coaching staff in first-year offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Hoyer and Loggains worked together when the two were in Cleveland in 2014 (Loggains coached the Browns’ quarterbacks).
More from the NFC:
- The Seahawks haven’t made a pick in the first round since 2012, and it’s possible that streak will continue this year, according to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, who outlines why Seattle might look to trade down from No. 26.
- Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune has the details on Tim Hightower‘s new one-year deal with the Saints, tweeting that it’s a minimum salary benefit contract that features an $80K signing bonus.
- The Falcons hosted Virginia Tech edge defender Dadi Nicolas for a pre-draft visit today, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Nicolas has also visited Washington, per Aaron Wilson of NFPost.com, and made previously reported trips to Arizona and Pittsburgh this month.
Connor Byrne contributed to this post.