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Kiper: Thomas could have big impact

Mel Kiper Jr. predicts De'Anthony Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs to be one of the early-impact rookies drafted in the fourth round or later. The Chiefs took Thomas, a slot receiver and kick returner from Oregon, in the fourth round.

I wrote this about Thomas shortly after the draft, that he would have the most immediate impact among Kansas City's six draft picks. Outside linebacker Dee Ford, the first-round pick, may eventually be a more productive player than Thomas, but he has a pair of Pro Bowl players starting ahead of him this year. Ford is also transitioning from defensive end to linebacker and pass-rushers usually don't deliver a lot as rookies.

But the Chiefs need Thomas now. He was a dynamic kickoff and punt returner at Oregon, so he should step into those roles with the Chiefs and contribute immediately. The Chiefs need to give him every opportunity to be their slot receiver because none of the other candidates is as fast or has his kind of big-play ability.

It's still early and the Chiefs haven't held a practice yet with any of their rookies. But as of this point, it's an upset if Thomas isn't their rookie of the year.