Rookie minicamp notebook: Draft picks get passing marks as camp concludes

Chiefs safety Jordan Sterns and four other first-year players joined the team’s draft picks, rookie free agents and tryout out players during the rookie minicamp at the team’s training complex in Kansas City, Mo., on May 6, 2018. (Photo by Matt Derrick, ChiefsDigest.com)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —

The Chiefs’ three-day rookie minicamp concluded Monday afternoon and while head coach Andy Reid wasn’t ready to single out any one of the 68 participants in the camp quite yet he finished the weekend pleased with the progress players showed.

“I’m not going to get into all that,” Reid said. “The draft picks did good. I’ll leave it at that. The draft picks did a nice job, a couple of the free agents that we signed I thought did a good job too, without naming names.”

Reid liked the effort players showed during the camp. Sometimes rookie minicamps showcase youthful mistakes and rampant confusion but Reid said the young players picked up things quickly and retained information from each day to the next.

“Sometimes you can go fast but you’re running into each other,” he said. “That wasn’t the case. The guys were doing what we asked them to do, doing it fast.”

The camp included six draft picks, five first-year players, 14 undrafted free agents signed before the camp, three players signed after the camp and 40 other tryout players. Several of the tryout players will join the team’s shortlist and may return if opportunities arise down the road.

Chiefs sign three tryout players

Three players attending the rookie minicamp signed contracts with the team following Monday’s final practice.

BYU center Tejan Koroma, Indiana linebacker Rob McCray and Villanova cornerback Malik Reaves inked deals with the team. That brings to 17 the number of undrafted rookie free agents signed by the team.

The addition of the three free agents brings the Chiefs official roster count to 88 players including the signing of sixth-round draft pick Tremon Smith. The Chiefs can maintain an offseason roster of 90 players and still have five drafts picks remaining unsigned.

Watts banged up

The Chiefs made it through the rookie minicamp with only one injury but it just so happened to impact one of their draft picks.

Fourth-round safety Armani Watts took a helmet to the shoulder during an early camp practice. He sat out the final two practices open to the media on Sunday and Monday. Reid called it a minor injury and nothing serious.

“We held him out, he’ll be fine,” Reid said. “It was a bruise is what it was, nothing other than that.”

Experienced Chiefs challenging rookies

Five Chiefs defined as first-year players attended the rookie minicamp. Wide receivers Marcus Kemp, Gehrig Dieter and Brandon Shippen along with offensive tackle Andrew Wylie and safety Jordan Sterns participated in the camp, providing an opportunity to hone their skills while testing this year’s rookie crop.

Reid said it helps watching rookies taking on players with more experience.

“That’s all part of the evaluation,” Reid said. “Watching a young guy that just came in do well against them, you go that’s pretty good, that’s a good job.”

The rookie minicamp is all about evaluation, and Reid said the team’s coaches and scouts will analyze every aspect of the minicamp in judging players.

“What we’re doing is grading these guys every play,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a drill, versus air, routes versus air, team periods it doesn’t matter. We grade them every play then you kind of put it all in the pot.”

Notes: Cornerbacks Tremon Smith and Arrion Springs all made big impacts in the secondary. … Blake Mack from Arkansas State appears one of the more intriguing players among the college free agent crop. Mack is listed as a tight end but spent his minicamp time in the wide receiver group. He may find a spot as a hybrid or as an H-back who can line up in different spots. … Offensive line candidates coming out of the minicamp to watch include Wylie and Koroma along with Kahlil McKenzie, Jimmy Murray, Ryan Hunter and Devondre Seymour. … Among local players attending the minicamp, Kansas State’s Byron Pringle and Missouri Western’s Dante Watkins fared the best. Watkins attended on a tryout basis but showed enough to merit a further look going forward.

Quote of the day

“It was great. He looks just like his brother. I mean his body, head, everything. You look over and hey, it’s almost spooky. He’s a good kid too.” — Andy Reid on having rookie minicamp tryout candidate Elliott Berry, younger brother of Chiefs safety Eric Berry.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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