It Never Ends

Posted Aug 4, 2010

NFL scouting is a never-ending process and there are plenty of examples on the Chiefs roster

The Chiefs have made two roster moves while in St. Joseph; both have involved the signing of rookie free agents joining their second professional team. While the signings of WR Verran Tucker and LB John Russell may not generate headlines, their signings are a clear indication that the NFL scouting process never ends.

Both players were part of the Chiefs personnel notes in some way, shape or form prior to April’s NFL Draft. For whatever reason, both players went undrafted and inked deals with teams other than the Chiefs; Tucker with Dallas and Russell in Green Bay.

“Those two guys happen to be in this year’s rookie class so we did work on them for potentially two years,” head coach Todd Haley said. “We had them on our draft evaluation board going into the draft, after the draft. You get some guys you want, you don’t get some guys you want in that process but we keep those guys on the radar.”

When each became available for hire once more, the Chiefs quickly plucked them out of the free agent market. A similar move was made earlier in the spring when undrafted TE Leroy Banks was waived by the Falcons. The Chiefs put in a waiver claim on Banks to ensure his immediate arrival for the team’s off-season program.

“We keep a short list and a long list and we’re constantly updating it,” Haley said of the scouting process. “We’re constantly looking at it, we’re constantly talking about it and when guys become available or names pop up or we have a particular need or there’s an injury, we’ve just got to be prepared to pull the trigger.”

All undrafted players face an uphill climb to make a 53-man roster; the odds are stacked against them. But persistence in the scouting process has paid off on numerous occasions.

Chiefs fans know all too much about G Ryan Lilja. Undrafted out of Kansas State, the Chiefs initially tried to sneak Lilja onto the practice squad following training camp in 2004. Lilja was on the Colts radar and Indianapolis immediately claimed their future starter at left guard.

Six division titles and two Super Bowl appearances later, the Chiefs have finally gotten him back.

All-Pro G Brian Waters is another classic example of scouting persistency. Waters originally went undrafted out of North Texas State in 1999 and signed with the Cowboys as a tight end. After the Cowboys released him at the end of training camp, it took Waters six months to find work again. He hasn’t been available for hire since.

There are plenty of other examples; even some others currently on the Chiefs roster. But it’s guys like Lilja and Waters that make scouting and personnel jobs a never-ending process. Young players all develop and different speeds and in different ways.

“I cannot stress this enough and I know I’ve said it, I don’t care how they got here, I really don’t.,” Haley said. “I think my time in the league, that’s been proven in the places I’ve been and the players I’ve been around. Once they’re here and once I’m coaching them, I don’t care.

“I don’t care if there is one pulling up in a van right now that was mowing a yard, I don’t care,” Haley continued. “I don’t care if somebody was a first pick, fourth pick, ninth pick or Mr. Irrelevant. If they’re coming in here, we’re coaching them and we’re trying to get them as good as they can possibly be to help us win. If they do that then I’m happy.”

There are plenty of undrafted free agents currently on the Chiefs roster. Here’s the full list, in order of career games played. Take a look, and then I ask you? Which undrafted players make the final 53 this year?

C Casey Wiegmann – 195 games played

G Brian Waters – 147 games played

WR Terrance Copper – 78 games played

G Ryan Lilja – 66 games played

DT Shaun Smith – 63 games played

LB Corey Mays – 48 games played

WR Jerheme Urban – 47 games played

C Rudy Niswanger – 46 games played

OL Ikechuku Ndukwe – 33 games played

FB Mike Cox – 32 games played

LB David Herron – 26 games played

LS Thomas Gafford – 25 games played

DB Maurice Leggett – 22 games played

RB Tim Castille – 21 games played

DE Wallace Gilberry 21 games played

RB Jackie Battle – 17 games played

LB Jovan Belcher – 16 games played

WR Lance Long – 8 games played

DL Dion Gales – 3 games played

DT Derek Lokey – 3 games played

LB Pierre Walters – 3 games played

S Ricky Price – 2 games played

TE Leroy Banks – 0 games played

CB Jackie Bates – 0 games played

DT Garrett Brown – 0 games played

LB Justin Cole – 0 games played

T Tyler Eastman – 0 games played

DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald – 0 games played

DE Bobby Greenwood – 0 games played

LB Cory Greenwood – 0 games played

WR Rich Gunnell – 0 games played

G Darryl Harris – 0 games played

WR Jeremy Horne – 0 games played

G/C Lemuel Jeanpierre – 0 games played

RB Tervaris Johnson – 0 games played

S Reshard Langford – 0 games played

RB Kestahn Moore – 0 games played

QB Tyler Palko – 0 games played

LB John Russell – 0 games played

TE Cody Slate – 0 games played

WR Verran Tucker – 0 games played

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