KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The more Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, coach Andy Reid and the scouting staff did their pre-draft homework on linebacker Breeland Speaks, the more they saw similarities to one of the franchise's all-time best pass-rushers.
It's far too early to tell whether Speaks, who eventually became Kansas City's top draft pick (No. 46 overall), will turn out like Tamba Hali. But the Chiefs, who traded up in the second round to get Speaks, wouldn't be surprised if he does.
"He's so similar to Tamba in his measurements, testing, all these things," Reid said. "He kind of fits right into that mold right there."
The Chiefs would happily take another Hali. They released him during the offseason, after 12 seasons and 89.5 sacks. He finished the Kansas City portion of his career second in team history in sacks, behind only Derrick Thomas.
Speaks is not as familiar with Hali as his new team. But in describing the way he plays, Speaks could have been talking about Hali.
"You're getting a passionate player who's going to play with relentless effort and who's basically not going to give up on any plays," Speaks said. "You're getting somebody who's just a hard worker, a blue-collar guy from Mississippi."
It's easy to see why the Chiefs look at Speaks and see at least some of Hali. Each was a defensive end in college: Hali at Penn State, Speaks at Ole Miss. Hali then measured 6-foot-3 and weighed 275; Speaks is 6-foot-3 and 283. Each ran a 4.87-second 40-yard dash as he was preparing for the draft.
None of this means Speaks will produce like Hali did for the Chiefs. But he is built like Hali, with a similar set of skills.
"If this guy ran a 4.7, he's gone way [earlier in the draft]," Veach said after the Chiefs picked Speaks. "But he's got long arms; he's extremely physical. He's a power rush player that can kick inside if he has to, but he's extremely strong.
"You can run a 4.4 and a 4.5, but I think everything in this league starts with the power game, the power rush player. I would take a 4.7 guy that can power rush, as opposed to a 4.5 guy that really can't. So this guy can do that. He can rush the quarterback with power. He can kick inside if he has to, and again, he goes all day.”
Hali wasn't fast but was able to successfully make the transition to outside linebacker early in his career. Many of his sacks came by not giving up on a play, as opposed to by any kind of great athletic move.
"Tamba was a 275-, 280-pound guy, 4.8 and change guy," Veach said. "But he was a point A to point B guy. It wasn't pretty. It was just physical. That's what this guy is. It's not always pretty, but it's physical."