The search for intensity


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Jan 22, 2006
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Chiefs draft: The search for intensity
Edwards demands passion, toughness
The Kansas City Star

Trying to define the quintessential player favored by new Chiefs coach Herm Edwards is no easy task.

His draft record from five seasons as head coach of the New York Jets reveals little besides that Edwards, a former NFL cornerback, loves defensive backs and selects them by the bushel, more than any other position group.

The Chiefs are about to learn much more. Next weekend brings the first draft with Edwards as their head coach, and the annual collegiate talent grab figures to be a different ride for the Chiefs from when Dick Vermeil was their coach.

Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson perhaps has the best insight into Edwards and his thoughts. Edwards over the years has worked for Peterson as a player, scout, assistant coach and now head coach.

“He likes competitive guys, guys that aren’t necessarily the most gifted athlete or the fastest or the smartest or the quickest or whatever,” Peterson said. “But he has to play the game at an intense level and play it with a lot of intelligence. That’s what kind of guy Herm was. He never ran very fast, but the minute the receiver left the line of scrimmage, Herm as the cornerback could read the route within three steps and was always where he was supposed to be and anticipated well.

“He wants guys that are going to be committed to extra video study and understand how and what you need to do to be a pro in the National Football League and the sacrifices you have to make.”

The Chiefs’ draft preparations have been led this year for the first time by Bill Kuharich, who assumed the responsibility from Lynn Stiles. Kuharich, as a vice president and then general manager of the Saints from 1994 through 1999, presided over some mostly nondescript drafts.

His infamous draft with the Saints was his last. He swapped every other Saints draft pick to Washington for the one that allowed them to choose running back Ricky Williams.

The Saints finished 3-13 that season, and Kuharich was fired afterward.

Despite that, Kuharich is known as a bright talent evaluator and has interviewed for several general manager positions around the league since joining the Chiefs in 2000. Until this year, Kuharich served as their lead pro scout.

“It’s not like it’s something I haven’t done before,” Kuharich said. “It’s like getting back on a bike. It’s been very easy.”

Peterson remains in charge of the draft, but clearly the head coaches, from Marty Schottenheimer to Gunther Cunningham to Vermeil, had his ear. Under Schottenheimer, the Chiefs selected big, tough and physical picks who could play his preferred style.

Cunningham wanted bigger receivers and defensive backs, and got them. Vermeil wanted defenders and, with the notable exception of the 2003 selection of running back Larry Johnson, got them.

Now the Chiefs will start drafting players in the Edwards mold.

“Herm believes in mental and physical toughness,” said Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s draft analyst. “Being a former defensive back, he drafted a lot of defensive backs in New York, and he did very well with the defensive backs he drafted in New York. I think that’s a trend you’re going to see continue in Kansas City.

“They’ve got to start playing some defense out there if they’re going to get to the championship game. They need an edge pass rusher, they need a couple of defensive backs and they need to continue to beef up that linebacker corps.”

The Chiefs have a need at cornerback. They have a hole in their starting lineup after releasing longtime starter Eric Warfield and almost certainly will draft at least one.

Drafting defensive backs is one of Edwards’ passions. The Jets selected nine defensive backs in five years with Edwards and at least one every year.

None was selected in the first round and only two as high as the second, but that didn’t prevent Edwards from playing them. Five started at least one game for the Jets by their second seasons. Three were regular starters as rookies.

“If you know what you’re looking for, especially what it takes for a player to play in your system, that’s the key,” Edwards said. “I don’t think you always have to get a corner in the first round. You can find them. I started in Philadelphia, and I was a no-round. I was an (undrafted) free agent.

“When you start drafting guys, you have to make sure why you’re drafting them. I never lose sight of that. If you can put them in a system where they can be successful, that’s our responsibility as coaches.”

Given Edwards’ draft record, the Chiefs with their first pick could select a wide receiver such as Ohio State’s Santonio Holmes or a pass rusher like North Carolina State’s Manny Lawson and work on their deficiency at cornerback later in the draft.

The type of cornerback Edwards likes may be available in the second round or beyond.

“When I look at guys at that position, I want to see if they’re mentally tough,” Edwards said. “That’s what it takes for these guys to play in this league. It’s not always their 40 time. It helps you, but the guys that are mentally tough, the guys that have what I call selective memory, that if something bad happens it’s over and you go on to the next play, it takes those kind of guys to play in this league.

“I always put on a film of when the guy got beat. I want to see how he plays after he got beat. Does he become a soft guy? Does he continue to challenge? Does he continue to compete? That’s going to happen to him (in the NFL). He’s going to get beat more than once. I want to see how he reacts to that. That’s how you find out about a guy and if he can play in this league.”

Edwards is talking as a coach and former cornerback. Edwards also tends to think at times like a scout.

He was a scout for the Chiefs for three seasons in the 1990s, making him the first of Peterson’s Chiefs coaches to draw a regular paycheck that way. Cunningham once did so briefly years ago.

Edwards doesn’t necessarily think of a draft pick as a finished product.

“A coach always wants this player to be able to do this, that guy to be able to do that,” Edwards said. “I’m a firm believer that (coaches are given) some clay and it’s pretty good clay. As a coach, you’ve got to develop it. It’s not going to be developed. If it was already developed, you wouldn’t need coaches. I understand that. I’ve been through the process. Sometimes that’s why (assistant) coaches get a little mad at me when the draft comes. They’ll say, ‘You’re on the scouts’ side.’ I’m not on the scouts’ side. I just know both sides of it.

“I know when I was a scout and I was driving all over the countryside, seven hours to go see some guy and write a report, it was on me and I had to bring the information back. My eyes might see a little bit different than a coach, but at the end of the day, I felt this guy had enough talent that if we used it properly, he could help us win.”

Draft comparison

The Chiefs under coach Dick Vermeil and the Jets with Herm Edwards at the helm made some good draft picks and a few questionable draft picks during the last five years.



■ Larry Johnson (2003, first round): Became a hit with 1,750 rushing yards last season.

■ Jared Allen (2004, fourth round): Only player to give the Chiefs a consistent pass rush the last two seasons.


■ Eric Downing and Marvin Minnis (2003, third round): The Chiefs’ top two picks of that draft are no longer with the team.



■ Santana Moss (2001, first round): Became a good receiver and then was traded to Washington for Laver- anues Coles, who had 73 catches last year.

■ Jonathan Vilma (2004, first round): Was in on 276 tackles in his first two seasons.


■ Mike Nugent (2005, second round): Connected on just 22 of 28 field-goal attempts as a rookie.
The problem Edwards is finding is that fewer and fewer players have that intensity, and someone is likely to draft them before you get around to it.

The pool of intense players who have skills is getting smaller every year.
Rupert said:
The problem Edwards is finding is that fewer and fewer players have that intensity, and someone is likely to draft them before you get around to it.

The pool of intense players who have skills is getting smaller every year.
I agree.....I've been hearing rumors of the Chiefs being interested in Cromartie if he's still there at number 20.
Everything I've seen so far suggests he most likely will be there, but you know how well you can trust pre-draft speculation.
Rupert said:
Everything I've seen so far suggests he most likely will be there, but you know how well you can trust pre-draft speculation.
Yes I do know.....more like a wait and see game ;)
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