Chiefs buzzing about speed of rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – De'Anthony Thomas was a sprinter on his track team in college and probably the fastest player on the Kansas City Chiefs during his first two NFL seasons.

He’s normally someone sure of his ability, and particularly his speed. But he has a challenger for the title of fastest Chief in rookie Tyreek Hill, who ran a 4.24 40 as he prepared for this year’s NFL draft.

Hill is fast enough that Thomas said he wasn’t sure whether he could beat the rookie in a 40-yard dash.

“There’s a lot of speed out there," Thomas said.

Fast players tend to stand out during offseason practice, which is conducted without pads or physical contact. But the Chiefs are going above and beyond the norm in their praise of Hill’s speed, certainly beyond where they’ve ever gone in that regard with Thomas.

“He’s fast," fellow wide receiver Rod Streater said. “What did he run, a 4.2 or something? He’s got me. I’ll give that to him."

Hill has caught passes in practice on balls that looked like they would be hopelessly overthrown, giving it the appearance he’s outrunning the ball.

“He’s outrunning a lot of other guys out there, too," quarterback Alex Smith said. “He’s certainly one of the fastest guys I’ve seen."

The arrival of Hill, a fifth-round draft pick, endangers more than Thomas’ claim as the fastest Chiefs player. It also endangers his roster spot. The Chiefs don’t have a need for both players because they are similar in size, speed and ability. The Chiefs drafted Thomas in the fourth round in 2014 in large part because of ability as a kick returner, but that’s one of Hill’s strengths, too.

The Chiefs wouldn’t have drafted Hill if they were happy with Thomas, who missed several games late last season under mysterious circumstances. The Chiefs have declined to explain his absence last year and Thomas refused to discuss it Wednesday in an interview despite being given numerous chances.

Thomas said he was a different player than Hill, but wouldn’t be specific about that.

“Just look at me," Thomas said. “Just look at my film. Look what I’ve done. Look at my past."

His past as a player looks suspiciously like that of Hill, who was also a track sprinter in college.

Thomas is only 23 and the Chiefs don’t like to give up on players at such an early age. But it would be more unlikely if they kept both Hill and Thomas.