The Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday begin a three-day rookie camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. All nine of their draft picks are under contract and scheduled to participate.
Here is a look at each of the nine players and their prospects for playing time this season.
DL Chris Jones, second round, Mississippi State: Playing time will be available for Jones, but he will have to earn it. Starting linemen Allen Bailey, Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard are highly paid and well-entrenched. But Jones could be the first defensive lineman off the bench to provide relief to the starters and could find himself starting if one of the three veterans is injured. The Chiefs are intrigued by Jones’ potential as a pass-rusher. While the Chiefs have been comfortable with the combination of Bailey and Poe as their inside rushers in passing situations, Jones could earn some playing time in that role as well.
CB KeiVarae Russell, third round, Notre Dame: The Chiefs moved slowly with Russell in offseason practice. Though one starter, Phillip Gaines, was limited because he’s coming off a knee injury, Russell was consistently working with the second team. The Chiefs will start training camp with Gaines and Marcus Peters as their starters and Steven Nelson as the nickelback. Gaines could see some time as an extra defensive back in passing situations, but he’ll have plenty of competition for that role. A more likely scenario, at least early in the season, is for Russell to contribute on special teams.
G Parker Ehinger, fourth round, Cincinnati: He has the best chance among any of the draft picks of starting in the Sept. 11 season opener against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs moved Ehinger into the starting lineup at left guard early in offseason practice and he kept the spot the rest of the way. The job now looks like his to lose.
DB Eric Murray, fourth round, Minnesota: Murray, a cornerback in college, played mostly at safety during offseason practice. He was near the back of a very long line competing for playing time, one that includes Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen, Jamell Fleming, Stevie Brown and Marcus Cooper. He’ll move even further back in that line once Eric Berry arrives. The Chiefs play a lot of safeties but Murray’s best hope for playing time as a rookie is, like Russell, on special teams.
WR Demarcus Robinson, fourth round, Florida: After signing Jeremy Maclin and drafting Chris Conley last year and adding veterans Rod Streater and Mike Williams this year, the Chiefs weren’t expecting Robinson to have much of an immediate impact, if any. He looked like a developmental prospect during offseason practice, where it’s easier for receivers to stand out because contact is at a minimum and tackling is prohibited. But Robinson had few catches or big plays. The Chiefs are looking for help at receiver so it’s too early to rule him out for 2016 but judging from offseason practice Robinson looked more like a candidate for playing time in 2017 and beyond.
QB Kevin Hogan, fifth round, Stanford: Hogan improved as offseason practice progressed. With a better understanding of what coaches expected of him, Hogan was more confident in where he was going with the ball and his throws often had more zip. Still, he’s at the back of a line of developmental quarterbacks that includes Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray. Both have at least two seasons working in the Chiefs’ system, so it’s unrealistic to expect he’d been anything more than the No. 3 quarterback this year.
WR Tyreek Hill, fifth round, West Alabama: Hill is fast. That’s why he was drafted and he put his speed to good use frequently in offseason practice. There were times he caught up to passes that looked hopelessly overthrown and made the catch. His involvement on offense was extensive, particularly considering he’s only 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds and he’s a fifth-round pick. The Chiefs are trying to find playing time for him and look for that to continue to training camp. After failing to get much offensive production in recent seasons from similarly sized receivers in Dexter McCluster and De’Anthony Thomas, the Chiefs have a new project in Hill. Hill will be at or near the front of the line to be the punt and kickoff returner as well.
CB D.J. White, sixth round, Georgia Tech: If the other cornerbacks stay healthy, White could have trouble making the regular-season roster. White was sixth on the depth chart in offseason practice, so he’ll have to vault at least one of his teammates if the Chiefs keep only five corners. Even then, playing time looks sparse.
LB Dadi Nicolas, sixth round, Virginia Tech: The Chiefs list Nicolas at 235 pounds. Assuming that's accurate, he needs to put on more weight before he’s ready to compete for playing time at outside linebacker. All of their other outside linebackers are at least 15 pounds heavier. So this will be a developmental season for Nicolas.