A Diverse Draft Class Gathers In New Football Home

Over the last two weeks we have profiled all eight members of the Chiefs 2013 NFL Draft class. From Eric Fisher at No. 1 choice to Mike Catapano at No. 207, we tried to flesh out the background of these newest Chiefs.

And the process of doing so reminded me how much I love the aftermath of the annual selection meeting. There’s always a lot of minutes, inches and bytes dedicated to the run up to the NFL Draft, but the part I enjoy most is afterwards, when these rookies all come together to join their new team.

That happens starting Friday when the Chiefs hold a rookie mini-camp at their facility. This coming weekend will be just the guys that have never played a game in the league and various tryout players. They will get thrown into the full-fire next week when OTA sessions begin with the veterans.

Each year’s draft class is a reminder of how far reaching the game of football has become in our country and why it has surpassed baseball as the national past-time.

The roster number of 53 and the total roster that’s taken to training camp at 90 players provides a gathering of young men from every corner of the country, from every socio-economical level, from every home environment one can imagine and through colleges that range from the Ivy League, to a teacher’s college in nowhereville Pennsylvania.

Take this newest group of Chiefs, all eight of them – no matter how we might want to lump them together into one role, they are a diverse group, from every sort of community in our society – country, small towns, suburbs and cities. They come with different backgrounds, different histories, different family backgrounds and very different outlooks on life.

In any season and any sport, the key part of the job that Andy Reid and his coaching staff face is pulling these eight young men and another dozen undrafted rookie free agents and folding them into the group of nearly 70 veterans of the league that were already in the locker room. When it’s all done sometime in early September, Reid and staff must have the group of 53 working in unison, no matter their backgrounds and personalities.

This year’s class of eight draft picks arrives together this weekend for the mini-camp and essentially become a band of football brothers, linked by their identifying markers as a 2013 Chiefs/NFL draft choice.

That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The eight choices come from eight different states in five different regions of the country. There are two players from the Northeast (New York and Pennsylvania), two from the Midwest (Michigan, Ohio), two from the south (Alabama, Georgia), one form the southwest (Texas) and one from the Plains (Kansas).

They grew up in hometowns that range from Smith Center, Kansas with its population of approximately 1,650 people, to Augusta, Georgia in the southeast, a city of 200,000. Another grew up within site of the concrete canyons of New York City.

FB Braden Wilson grew up in a town that was built around farming and ranching in Smith Center. LB Nico Johnson grew up in the town of Andalusia, Alabama, where cotton plantations once ruled the countryside. OT Eric Fisher was a child of the suburbs of Detroit, TE Travis Kelce is from the suburbs of Cleveland and RB Knile Davis grew up in the suburbs of Houston. They grew up near very different bodies of water, from Lake Erie, to Long Island Sound, to the Gulf of Mexico, to rivers like the Monongahela and Savannah.

One of the eight is married and two have fathered children. Three members of the group were raised primarily by their mothers, while three had both parents but they were divorced. Three are black and five are white. They stand 6-7 to 5-10, and weigh 313 to 227 pounds. Half of the group earned their undergraduate degrees, and half were on campus for at least five seasons.

Their high schools ranged in size from 200 fellow students, to 470, to 825 and as high as 1,800 faces in the school. They were Cougars, Tigers, Buffaloes, Bulldogs and Colts as high school players, along with being Patriots, Flyers and Redmen.

Coming out of high school, they were proficient in sports other than football, including lacrosse, throwing the discus, wrestling, baseball and basketball.

In no way are the eight alike, but starting Friday they will be related, part of the brotherhood of the Chiefs.

One Response to “A Diverse Draft Class Gathers In New Football Home”

  • May 9, 2013  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Thanks Bob for the great overview of the disparate constituents involved in the process that leads to the unique synthesis that is a football team. Count me among those looking forward to the beginning of the season and more great coverage. It’s also great to be able to say that again.

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