The Kansas City Chiefs picked defensive end Dee Ford with the 23rd pick in the NFL draft onThursday night.
Ford, who played high school in Alabama, attended Auburn University.
He has had some injury issues, including a back injury, and was not invited to the draft in New York. He said he feels good and his health is not an issue.
The Chiefs said Ford is hailed for his above-average football intelligence and work ethic.
He enrolled at Auburn in 2009. He graduated in December with a degree in public administration.
During his preparations for the draft, Ford worked hard to remove any doubts about his size.
During his introductory news conference, Ford revealed that he is just as confident tickling the ivory as he is tearing up the gridiron.
Just ask him who the best pass rusher in the NFL draft is this year. He will tell you without hesitation: He trumps No. 1 overall choice Jadeveon Clowney, and he intends to prove it.
"That just comes along with the game itself. I like to play confident," said Ford.
"Every athlete has a right to think that about himself," he said. "Especially when you've put in a lot of work. But that's over now. I'm here to be a teammate. I'm here to learn. A lot of guys, Pro Bowlers, Hall of Famers that I'm just trying to learn a lot from."
Ford's confidence should not be confused with arrogance. While the accomplished pianist's long-term goal is to make the Hall of Fame, his short-term one is to simply fit in.
The Chiefs already have a pair of Pro Bowl pass rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, so Ford will have a couple of good tutors. But with Hali turning 31 during the season and Houston up for a new contract, the learning curve could also be a steep one.
Ford could be the replacement for one of them by next season.
"We clearly thought he was the second-best pass rusher in this draft," said Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, who presumably had Ford ranked behind Clowney on his board. "I thought it was interesting, one of our scouts got a text from the head coach of Auburn and he said, `You just got a champion."'
He knows about the history of Chiefs Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas, and he said speed is important.
"I love speed rush. Love the speed and power. Love to spin," Ford said. "Pass rush is an art and it's all about what you put into it. You can do whatever you want with it. It's pretty much an art form."
And he said the timing of a sack is also important.
"I just get very intense, get very focused naturally. I love the moment. I love the adrenaline. That's what you work for, those big moments," Ford said. "I don't want to get a sack when the game is a blowout. I want to have a sack when we're in the time to win the game."
It turns out the Chiefs also got a renaissance man.
Ford began playing music by banging on pots and pans when he was about 5 years old, and then graduated to proper drums. But he apparently found his calling on the piano, picking it up when he was 12 and performing in concerts at churches around his home in Alabama.
"I don't know how to measure" his ability, his father James Ford said. "But he can play with anybody, pretty much. He's always played music."
Ford said music also helps him get ready for games, putting him in the right mental state. It must work, too. He led the SEC with 10 1/2 sacks last season, despite missing Auburn's first two games after spraining his left knee in a preseason camp.
"Before the draft, I told myself it doesn't matter where I'm drafted because it's out of my hands. I can't control that," Ford said. "I can control my work ethic and my craft. I can control what I do. So I have goals in mind that I've already set. And until I'm done in the NFL, I won't cross my finish line."
During the news conference, Ford revealed himself as a gregarious man who is looking forward to working with coach Andy Reid and playing at Arrowhead Stadium. He said the Chiefs have some of the best coaches, and he can't describe his happiness at being selected by Kansas City.
"I was speechless last night on the phone and I'm never a guy who is speechless," he said. "I'm very honored to be here in such a rich tradition. It reminds me a lot of Auburn. This is a perfect situation for me and I'm going to take full advantage of it."
He vowed to be a "sponge" and a great teammate.
The Chiefs went from 2-14 to the playoffs in a matter of a year, so their first round draft pick went from first overall last year to 23rd in 2014.
The Chiefs have six picks in this year's draft. The team gave up its second round pick to the 49ers as part of the trade for quarterback Alex Smith.
Missouri's Michael Sam, who made history after he came out as gay in February, is waiting to see where he is drafted and how the controversy affects his placement.
Sam was co-defensive player of the year in the SEC, but he's small to play defensive end in the NFL.
If Sam isn't drafted, he could be weighing invitations to training camps.
Other Missouri, K-State and Kansas football players also hope to hear their names called in later rounds or receive an invite to training camp.
Refresh this page for updates.
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