Chiefs rookie linebacker Dee Ford wore No. 30 at Auburn, where his knack for terrorizing opposing offenses earned him a first-round draft selection.
Unfortunately for Ford, No. 30 is unavailable to him in the NFL due to the league’s jersey rules. In need of digits, he ultimately decided on No. 55.
“This is Derrick Thomas’ college number,” Ford told the team’s official website. “It’s all good. I’m not trying to be Derrick Thomas, but he’s a guy that definitely inspired me. The opportunity presented itself, so I took it.”
Ford has a long, long way to go before entering the same discussion as Thomas, but he does possess similar disruptive skills. Despite missing two games last season, Ford was the SEC’s most prolific pass-rusher, notching 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.
He plans to make the same impact at the next level.
“Yeah. I’m going to rush the passer,” he said. “I am dropping in coverage and they’re doing a great job teaching me. I’m learning the system. It’s becoming second nature. They’re going to beat it into my brain, so I’ll get it. I fit perfectly in the system playing behind Justin (Houston) and Tamba (Hali), and I can come in and make some plays.”
Ford, who signed a four-year, $8.16 million contract on Saturday, flashed in Kansas City’s rookie minicamp, recording an interception on the first play of team drills.
Still, he grades himself as average.
“I give it a C,” he said. “There is always room for improvement. I don’t want to feel like I’ve arrived. I want to stay grounded and just learn. You can never learn too much. You always have to stay at the C. There’s always room for improvement.”
Chiefs fans, especially those still on the fence after the draft, couldn’t have asked for a better start from Ford, who’s saying and doing all of the right things. If nothing else, his hunger to continually improve should help win over veteran teammates. And if he becomes even half as good as Thomas … well, no explanation needed.