Chiefs turn to offense on final day of NFL draft

By DAVE SKRETTA - AP Sports Writer
    2014-05-10 14:50

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs turned their attention to offense on the final day of the draft, choosing Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas with their fourth-round pick and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the fifth round Saturday.

The Chiefs bolstered their defense the first two days, grabbing Auburn defensive end Dee Ford in Thursday night's first round and Rice defensive back Phillip Gaines in the third round Friday.

Thomas fits what coach Andy Reid likes in a running back. He possesses exceptional speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield or line up as a wide receiver. He can also be used as a punt and kick returner, another area of need for the Chiefs.

''I feel like I'm an entertainer on the field,'' said Thomas, who left Oregon after a junior season that was cut short by injuries. ''I have a passion for this game.''

The Chiefs were seeking a replacement for return specialist Dexter McCluster, who signed with the Titans in free agency. Thomas set records for punt and kick return yardage at Oregon, and while he was showcased more as a running back last season, he also has good hands.

''First and foremost, he's an explosive playmaker,'' said Trey Koziol, the Chiefs' scout for the West Coast. ''He has world-class speed, ran on the track team at Oregon. Just versatility.''

The Chiefs already have Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles - another former track standout - and bruising Knile Davis, their third-round pick a year ago. That means it is more likely Thomas will evolve into a pass-catching threat rather than an every-down running back.

Thomas first started turning heads as a 12-year-old playing in a Pop Warner league for rapper Snoop Dogg, who claims to have given him the nickname ''Black Mamba.'' He eventually starred as a wide receiver, running back and defensive back at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.

Koziol said he's been keeping track of Thomas since his freshman season at Oregon.

''You know, when it comes down to it, you have to look at what you see on tape,'' Koziol said. ''You don't see this kid get caught from behind. ... The speed on tape doesn't lie.''

Murray was considered one of the nation's top college quarterbacks as a junior, but elected to return to the Bulldogs for his senior season. The SEC's career passing leader wound up tearing his ACL on Nov. 8 and did not work out during the NFL scouting combine.

He will compete with Tyler Bray for the third-string job behind starter Alex Smith, who is entering the final year of his contract, and Chase Daniel, a quarterback with similar skills. Like Daniel, Murray is a bit undersized at a shade over 6-foot. He does not have Bray's arm strength of Smith's elusiveness. But he does manage games well, and he has the kind of intangibles that Chiefs general manager John Dorsey covets in players.

''Aaron is a phenomenal leader,'' said Dom Green, the Chiefs' assistant director of college scouting. ''Type of guy his teammates rally around. Just an overall very competitive player.''

Green said that while Murray did not run for timed measurements at his pro day he did look good throwing the ball. The Chiefs are hopeful his surgically repaired knee will be ready by camp.

''There's no restriction right now. The doctors gave me the green light to do everything,'' Murray said. ''It feels healthy. I feel great. There's no restrictions, no second thought when I'm running, cutting. It's full-speed, full-go ahead.''

The Chiefs interviewed Murray prior to his pro day and he came away optimistic.

''We were supposed to talk for 45 minutes, and it ended up being an hour and 45-minute meeting,'' Murray said. ''I got a great feeling after that meeting. It felt great. The scheme that we were doing at Georgia was the same as what they're doing up there. It was a great fit.''



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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