Chiefs go for defense on final day of draft

By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer
    2013-04-27 17:08

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - After spending their first three picks on offense, the Kansas City Chiefs led off the final day of the NFL draft looking for some help on defense.

The Chiefs grabbed Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson with the second selection in the fourth round Saturday, and then picked Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings early in the fifth round.

Kansas City added California (Pa.) center Eric Kush in the sixth round, and a compensatory choice later in the round went to Kansas State fullback Braden Wilson. The Chiefs wrapped up their draft by taking Princeton defensive end Mike Catapano in the seventh round.

The Eagles traded up three spots to the first pick in the fourth round, and chose Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley. That led to speculation that the Philadelphia brass thought the Chiefs might be interested in Barkley with the No. 99 overall pick.

The Chiefs wound up picking Johnson, filling a need at linebacker by choosing a natural fit for the defensive system Kansas City intends to keep under new coordinator Bob Sutton.

``They run something similar to what we do at Alabama,'' Johnson said. ``I watched them a couple times throughout the years. I know they got a Pro Bowl linebacker there I can learn from, and I'm just ready to get there and learn as much as I can from him.''

Johnson was the first defensive player chosen by the Chiefs. They'd already drafted offensive tackle Eric Fisher, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Knile Davis the first two days.

Johnson said his inspiration came from his mother, Mamie, who died in June 2010 at the age of 49 after long-term complications from Type-2 diabetes. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban and dozens of his teammates attended the funeral in Andalusia, Ala.

``This day is really for her,'' Johnson said. ``I put in so much work, not only for my teammates back in Tuscaloosa, but also for her, because she wanted me to not only get a degree, but take advantage of every opportunity that I had. It just means the world to me.''

Johnson will get his degree in criminal justice next month, becoming the first of Mamie's five children to graduate from college.

``That's a blessing in itself,'' he said.

Commings played primarily cornerback during his time at Georgia, but his size (6 feet, 216 pounds) and physical nature mean he could shift over to safety in the NFL.

The Chiefs aggressively retooled their secondary this offseason, acquiring cornerbacks Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith in free agency. But they were still looking for some depth, particularly behind starting safeties Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis.

``I'm just willing to go in and help the team, wherever it is - safety, corner, special teams,'' said Commings, a former college teammate of Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston.

Commings said he spoke to the Chiefs at the scouting combine, the Senior Bowl and then during a private workout. During those meetings, Chiefs officials asked about a domestic violence charge that resulted in a suspension last season, but came away convinced of Commings' character.

``I think they touched on it for a second. It wasn't much,'' Commings said. ``They did their research, talked to all the people in Athens, Ga. After they got to know me for a bit, they got to know what kind of person I was, so that wasn't a topic we spent much time on at all.''

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