KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The tributes to Kansas City Chiefs rookie outside linebacker Dee Ford are already rolling in. Tamba Hali compared Ford's first step as a pass-rusher to that of Derrick Thomas, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Mike DeVito said he's jealous of Ford's rush skills. Joe Mays said Ford's ability reminds him of his former teammate in Denver, Von Miller.
Leave it to Ford, the Chiefs' first-round draft pick, to put things in perspective.
“I’m honored, flattered,'' Ford said. "Hopefully I can prove it in games. It’s one thing to say it in [offseason practice] but I’ve got to prove it in games.’’
A better test for Ford will come in training camp, when the Chiefs put on the pads for the first time. But they have to be happy with what they've seen from Ford so far, in an environment that's mostly non-contact.
Ford has indeed shown a first step off the ball that is most impressive. He also has shown the ability to turn the corner and keep progressing toward the quarterback while fighting off a block with his upper body.
So far, at a very early stage, there's nothing to suggest the Chiefs didn't get in Ford exactly what they expected, and perhaps even more. Despite the absence of Justin Houston, a Pro Bowl outside linebacker who is absent from offseason practice, Ford isn't in the starting lineup yet.
“I don’t feel like my head is spinning but I still have a lot to learn,’’ Ford said.
The Chiefs are going with veteran Frank Zombo in Houston's place. But Ford is already a prominent part of the pass-rush package and it will be a major disappointment if Ford doesn't remain there even if Houston shows up for training camp.