Rookie Minicamp Notebook: Draft Picks Display Flashes During Initial Workouts

Wide receivers, secondary defenders stand out in minicamp marked by fewer mistakes than normal for rookies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- NFL rookie minicamps can collapse into chaos beneath an avalanche of mistakes and misunderstandings, but Chiefs head coach Andy Reid sounded surprisingly delighted with the first days of work put in by the 2019 draft class, college free agents and tryout players.

“Normally with these camps you get some good quarterbacks and you get a snap up and then you can kind of function in these things, so we had that,” Reid said after Monday's final workout of the three-day minicamp.

“I think overall this was probably the best overall group at all positions we had where you could go out and really compete and make it real,” Reid said.

There were certainly missteps and learning opportunities over the course of the weekend. But given that rookie minicamp often causes headaches for coaches, Reid's positivity bordered on giddiness compared to the alternatives.

“All-in-all it was a good camp,” Reid said. “We saw improvement, so that’s a plus.”

Defensive MVP: S Juan Thornhill

Several defenders stood out, but Thornhill seemed to consistently find himself around the ball during his reps, turning in an interception on Saturday and breaking up several other passes. He got beat inside for a touchdown in the red zone drill by tight end Jon Lovett, but it was a minor blemish on otherwise impressive weekend for Thornhill.

“Every day he got his hands on the ball,” Reid said. “Every day. He almost had one here in the red zone. It looks like he’s got a pretty good feel for things. He’s got a little bit of a knack there. Good worker, again, but you have to have that feel back there and he seems to have that.”

Honorable mention: CB Jalin Burrell. Burrell also seemed to consistently find himself making plays. He stood out among a crowd of promising free agent corners including Mark Fields and Dakari Monroe along with sixth-round pick Rashad Fenton.

Offensive MVP: WR Cody Thompson

Between Thompson and fellow undrafted free agents Jamal Custis and Felton Davis, not to mention second-round pick Mecole Hardman, the receiver group shined during this minicamp. The 6-2, 205-pound Thompson comes to Kanas City after becoming Toledo's all-time leader in touchdown catches with 30. He may have made the biggest impression in camp with a consistent ability to get open and make tough catches.

Davon Grayson, who spent time with the club last offseason, was among the first-year players attending the camp, and he made several big plays as well. Free agents Jamire Jordan and Andre Lindsey also stood out. Among the tryout players, Rashard Davis from James Madison appeared the most advanced.

Reid liked the group of receivers assembled for minicamp.
“I thought there were a lot of different types of bodies, but I thought it was a good group,” Reid said. “Again, you want that so you can give the secondary some work. I thought that was a pretty good group.”

Honorable mention: Custis. Receivers stood out the most in this camp, even discounting that the practice rules regarding contact already favor them. But getting open and making tough catches isn't easy, and the 6-5, 213-pound Custis showed fluidity and soft hands.

Darwin's Evolution

There weren't many opportunities in this camp for running backs, but Darwin Thompson showed off quickness zipping around defenders and working on special teams. He and Hardman worked in tandem receiving kicks with special teams coordinator Dave Toub.

Reid is definitely read to see more of Thompson once contact is allowed in training camp.

“Good speed, good quickness,” Reid said. “That’s what I thought. He’s got good hand-eye coordination which helps. Some of that will come in with, we'll see when he gets in.”

What's next?

The rookies get a week off before phase two of the team's offseason program resumes May 13. They will get another week of workouts in before the beginning of phase three during the week of May 20, when organized team activities begin. That's when team can conduct 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 team drills.

The offseason program culminates with the club's mandatory minicamp June 11-13.

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