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Dee Ford could wind up as one of 2014's best draft picks

For those with ESPN Insider access, Mike Sando has ranked the Top 25 players from the 2014 draft classInsider. Dee Ford, the outside linebacker selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round last year, is not among them.

That shouldn't be a surprise. Ford didn't play much as a rookie as he was stuck on the depth chart behind Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. He played mostly in passing situations, mostly during the season's second half, and didn't produce much.

Ford's absence is still troubling. He plays a so-called premium position and has tremendous skills in rushing the passer. On potential alone, it stands to reason that Ford belongs in the Top 25 because if he does find himself, he'll have more of an impact on the game than at least some of the players ranked ahead of him.

That Ford isn't ranked indicates at least some of the NFL talent evaluators who helped Sando with the ranking don't believe he will become a great player.

But he might. Don't forget that Ford spent his rookie season learning a new position. He was a down lineman in college at Auburn and never spent any time covering receivers. He was always chasing the quarterback.

So there was going to be a transition. I recently spoke with Ford and he described a chaotic rookie season during which he believed he never had adequate time to prepare.

Ford is talented and deserves the chance to show he belongs in that Top 25. There's still a good chance he eventually lands there.

"Last year he didn't have an offseason," Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs said. "He was traveling, doing a variety of interviews (preparing for the draft) and so forth, and then he got drafted, got thrust into (offseason practice) without having any kind of background of what we're doing.

"Now he's got a complete offseason behind him, he's had a good offseason. He's worked hard in the weight room. He's bigger, stronger and this is a good experience for him as far as establishing a really good foundation as far as our system, our scheme and he's competing well for us."