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Chiefs focused on needs with all nine picks

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is no question the Kansas City Chiefs went about filling roster needs first and foremost in the 2015 NFL Draft.

There was not a luxury choice among the nine players they grabbed, with four on offense and the other five for the defense.

General manager John Dorsey went right down the list of trying to fill holes in the roster, grabbing a pair of cornerbacks — including controversial banished Washington talent Marcus Peters in the first round — a pair of inside linebackers, and a pair of wide receivers, along with a center, tight end and defensive tackle.

All were need areas for the starting lineup and depth. If the 2015 picks show their talents in the preseason, the Chiefs could have four opening-day starters from the draft class.

Second-round choice Mitch Morse out of the University of Missouri was unprepared for his selection at pick No. 49 by the Chiefs.

“Oh no, no,” Morse said when asked if he expected to be picked among the top 50 players in the draft. “I’m feeling really fortunate. It’s the most blessed I ever felt in my life. I get to stick close to home; Kansas City is such a great place to be. My dad was born in Kansas City and his whole side of the family is there.”

Now that he knows where he will play, Morse will have to wait to see what position he will be assigned. A starting right and left tackle for the 2013-14 seasons for Mizzou, Morse will move inside to guard or center with the Chiefs. Both are positions of need for the club, especially center. He began the 2012 season as the Tigers’ starting center but was moved out of that spot when there were continued problems with his snaps.

“If I have to move back to that position (center), I’ll be just fine,” Morse said. “I learned a lot from the 2012 season. I have game time experience at center if that’s what the Chiefs want me to play. I feel confident going forward I can be an asset to the Chiefs if need be at center.”

There are two very different sets of numbers for third-round wide receiver Chris Conley. Start with his physical digits — at 6-2, 213 pounds he’s right where NFL teams like to see their receivers. He was timed at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and hit an outstanding 45 inches in the vertical leap and 11 feet, 7 inches in broad jump. Those were the best marks by a wide receiver at the Combine since at least 2006. Plus, he did 18 reps on the bench press.

The second set of numbers for Conley would be his production at the University of Georgia, and they don’t quite add up with his physical size. In 49 games with 23 starts, he caught 117 passes for 1,938 yards, a 16.6-yard average per catch. He grabbed 20 touchdown passes. With the exception of the TD catches, those career numbers do not rank among the top 10 receivers in Georgia history.

One reason could have been the run-oriented offense of head coach Mark Richt.

“That’s very valid,” said Chiefs general manager John Dorsey. “But the number that stands out to me is his 18-yard-per-catch average.

“Size, speed — he’s got vertical speed and he can go deep. He really does have some nice feet in terms of running after the catch and making guys miss. He’s got enough size to break the arm tackle. He is really a sharp kid, so he is going to pick the playbook up. He has got the athletic skills to just kind of blend right in.”

The Chiefs love the Bulldogs, as they picked two University of Georgia players in the 2015 NFL Draft to make five choices in the last four years. Conley went in the third round, and then in the fourth, the Chiefs grabbed linebacker Ramik Wilson from the Bulldogs. He joins outside linebacker Justin Houston (third round/2011), defensive back Sanders Commings (fifth round/2013) and quarterback Aaron Murray (fifth round/2014).

“I think it’s a great fit,” Wilson said of joining the Chiefs. “We’ve got former Bulldogs there and I’m ready to learn the playbook, meet my new teammates and get to work. It’s going to be great. I’m so excited.”

Wilson said he knows Houston from the times the NFL’s leading sacker in 2014 returned to Athens for rehab work over the last few years.

“I know him pretty well,” he said of Houston. “We’ve had the opportunity to talk a lot.”

A closer look at the Chiefs’ picks:

–Round 1/18 – Marcus Peters, CB, 6-0, 190, Washington

The questions surrounding Peters and his behavior kept many teams from buying into his future as an NFL cornerback. But the Chiefs saw tremendous natural ability and great instincts for the position and think his problems in 2014 could be traced to immaturity and trouble connecting with a new coaching staff with the Huskies. Peters will compete for a starting job.

–Round 2/49 – Mitch Morse, C/G, 6-5, 305, Missouri

Morse does not have the long arms (32 1/4 inches) that NFL teams seek from their offensive tackles, so he’s moving inside and the Chiefs need help there at both center and guard. His problems snapping the ball in 2012 for the Tigers will be something he’ll need to overcome in the pros.

–Round 3/76 – Chris Conley, WR, 6-2, 213, Georgia

Tall, strong and fast, Conley brings a package of physical skills along with good smarts from the classroom that should allow him a quick transition to Andy Reid’s offense. He did not see a lot of balls in the Bulldogs offense, but he caught those that came his way. There’s an opportunity for him to step into the starting lineup if he can transition quickly.

–Round 3/98 – Steven Nelson, CB, 5-11, 194, Oregon State

The Chiefs think Nelson could possibly work into the nickel/slot coverage position in the K.C. defense due to his excellent quickness. He also will see plenty of special teams assignments as well, maybe even returning punts. Nelson holds the Georgia state high school record for punt return touchdowns with 16 at Northside High in Warner-Robins.

–Round 4/118 – Ramik Wilson, LB, 6-2, 237, Georgia

With the Bulldogs, Wilson played behind Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree for two seasons. Both players were first-round selections in the 2013 NFL Draft. When he got the chance to play as a junior, Wilson led the SEC in tackles. He played both inside and outside at Georgia, but the Chiefs see him as strictly an inside linebacker. Wilson should challenge for playing time at inside linebacker in K.C.’s defense.

–Round 5/172 – D.J. Alexander, LB, 6-2, 233, Oregon State

Injuries hampered Alexander over his career in Corvallis as he missed time due to neck, knee and elbow injuries. Still, he played in 44 games and produced 209 total tackles, eight sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. He’s not especially fast, but Alexander uses his foot quickness with good strength and leaping ability. He’ll be a major contributor on special teams.

–Round 5/173 – James O’Shaughnessy, TE, 6-4, 245, Illinois State

A small-school tight end that helped lead his Illinois State team to the FCS Championship Game where they fell to North Dakota State. In that game, he caught a pair of touchdown passes and also contributed five tackles in the kicking game. Special teams work figures to be where he’ll make his first appearances with the Chiefs.

–Round 6/217 – Rakeem Nunez-Roches, NT, 6-2, 307, Southern Mississippi

–Born in the Central America country of Belize, Nunez-Roches came to the United States when he was 6 years old, moving north with his mother. They spent time living in a car before finding a place to settle in Alabama where the big man quickly came to love football. Whether he can challenge for a spot backing up Dontari Poe remains to be seen, but he can be disruptive in the middle.

-Round 7/233 – Da’Ron Brown, WR, 6-0, 196, Northern Illinois

–Although he’s not blessed with great speed, Brown made big contributions to the NIU offense with his sure-handed catching ability that produced 68 catches for 1,065 yards in the 2014 season. His big hands (10 1/4 inches) and ability to catch the ball away from his body give him a chance to compete for a roster spot.


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