Chief Concerns: Desmond Bailey (@CCWriterDez)
Try to picture, if you will, Kansas City Chiefs halfback and two-time All-Pro Jamaal Charles walking in an ultra-cool, slow-motion, Michael Bay-esque stride in the foreground. Meanwhile, in the background, is a Tasmanian Devil-like cyclone swirling violently with the occasional Chiefs helmet, pair of cleats, or chunk of Arrowhead Stadium field turf being jettisoned from its tornadic cloud of red & gold dust.
That’s how I envision the intense fight for the number-two spot on the depth chart behind Charles unfolding this summer during Chiefs training camp. It’ll be a three-man battle royale that will pit backups Shaun Draughn, Cyrus Gray, and Knile Davis against each other while under the heavy scrutiny of a new coaching staff and a re-energized fanbase eager to devour any news involving the evolution of the Chiefs final 2013 depth chart.
By mere virtue of his being selected on day-two of the 2013 NFL Draft with the Chiefs’ 96th overall pick, Davis – the big (5’10″, 227 lbs) and deathly fast (4.37 40-yard dash) rookie out of Arkansas – is the presumed favorite to win the role of Charles’ immediate backup.
Nonetheless, with Draughn missing a large portion of OTA’s with a sports hernia injury and Davis being a rookie with durability concerns and a reputation for fumbling, Gray – the 2nd-year vet and former Texas A&M Aggie – could be a darkhorse to emerge victorious in this race.
Gray – at 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds – was a sixth-round selection in the 2012 draft under a previous regime spear-headed by former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel. Gray possessed all the tools – explosive speed, quickness, and violent power – that Crennel’s staff coveted in their ball-control offense which relied heavily on the running game.
In his modest seven opportunities to tote the pigskin during the regular 2012 season, Gray maximized his time in the spotlight – rushing for 44 yards and a team-leading yards-per-carry average of 6.3.
To get a sense of how impressive that is, take that 6.3 ypc average and multiply it by the 285 carries Charles had, and you’re looking at 1,795 rushing yards for Gray. That would’ve been good enough to rank him a league-2nd in rushing behind the bionically-enhanced (just a conspiracy theory of mine…not fact) Vikings HB Adrian Peterson and his 2,097 yards on the season.
What ultimately kept Gray from a chance to bolster his body of work was a 3rd-place seating on the depth chart behind Draughn after foot and hamstring injuries stripped him of invaluable reps during last year’s camp and pre-season. Things look much more positive for Gray this time around.
With Draughn hurt, Gray got a much larger chunk of the reps in OTA’s which is vital if he’s to impress the new coaching staff. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is looking for a power-oriented runner to compliment Charles without much drop-off in speed, receiving skills and homerun capability. Gray certainly fits that bill.
Gray is a shifty, violent runner that won’t hesitate to punish would-be tacklers – a quality absent in the skillsets of Davis and Draughn. Meanwhile, Gray is also a solid receiver – able to elude defenders in the open field, make lateral cuts, accelerate, and take it to the house.
Gray has the talent and work ethic to be Charles’ immediate stand-by. As long as he continues to maximize his reps and stay healthy throughout camp, Gray has a legitimate shot. Don’t be surprised if he’s the number-two halfback on the depth chart when the red & gold dust from this cyclonic position-battle has cleared.
Talk to ya later!