The Kansas City Chiefs selected the boisterous Rakeem Nunez-Roches in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Entering his third season in the league, the 23-year-old has developed into a key player for the Chiefs when it comes to their defensive line depth.
Because of roster numbers, according to head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs released Nunez-Roches back in September of 2016, but the team kept him on the practice squad, which proved to be fortunate when both Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard were lost during the 2016 season, and they recalled Nunez-Roches in October.
Aside from his play on the field, Nunez-Roches offers one of the team's more outgoing personalities, a trait that can be contagious in a room of 53.
"He's a big-time energy giver," Reid said last season. "He always comes to work with a smile on his face. It doesn't matter if it's on scout team or on defense working with the ones there—he goes 100 miles per hour. The guys, because he does that, can take that 'rompin' and they know how he plays. He's going to give you a good honest down."
*Head coach Andy Reid on Nunez-Roches back in November 2016: "*Nunez-Roches, he's been high-octane since we've had him," he said. "It was just a matter of kind of working it within the system and figuring it out and I think he's done that. He's always been a high effort and energy guy. He comes every day. He's one of the funniest guys on the team but yet he'll bring it. He tries to [get after you] every play, he's a tough one."
2016 Season Review:
Nunez-Roches didn't play a snap until Week 6, when the Chiefs lost Allen Bailey (torn pectoral) for the season. From Week 6 forward, Nunez-Roches would see more action on the left side of the defensive line, and he saw the bulk of his year's action from Weeks 10 to 13, when he played in 174 of his 282 defensive snaps on the season.
According to Pro Football Focus, the best game of Nunez-Roches' young career came in the Week 16 matchup with the Denver Broncos, when he scored a 1.3 rating primarily due to his run defense (0.8) score.
Due to injury, Nunez-Roches garnered critical game experience, and that will only help him leading into 2017's training camp.
With Bailey's return, the signing of Benny Logan and the emergence of Chris Jones along the defensive line, Nunez-Roches should once again provide some depth at the position in 2017.
As Reid has stated, even if Nunez-Roches weren't to necessarily start (five career), his daily work ethic ensures he'll be ready when if and when he gets the call.