LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 17: Dexter Heyman#46 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The Louisville linebacker could turn into a real find for the Chiefs defense and special teams.
Before the 2012 NFL Draft, Luke Kuechly was the choice du jour of most NFL draft analysts trying to decipher who the Chiefs might take in the first round at No. 11. The reasoning was that the inside linebacker spot next to Derrick Johnson was a position worth upgrading and that Kuechly would be at that spot. The Chiefs never had a chance to take the Boston College linebacker since he went two spots before to the Carolina Panthers, but the Chiefs said they had their heart set on defensive tackle Dontari Poe heading into draft night either way.
Instead, the Chiefs ignored the inside linebacker position all through draft weekend, addressing the lines and skill positions instead. But one undrafted free agent who has earned some attention is Dexter Heyman. After falling through the draft, the Louisville linebacker says he's determined to use that as motivation but he's also glad to be with the Chiefs.
"Whether you are drafted or not, you have to come into this league with a chip on your shoulder and you have to make a name for yourself," Heyman told Josh Looney recently. "As for me and my personal situation, I'm just really happy to be here and I'm blessed that somebody gave me a chance to come out and compete at a level I've always dreamed of competing at."
Matt Miller of New Era Scouting liked Heyman as a linebacker prospect and says he could be a good fit for the Chiefs if he can turn the corner and learn the 3-4 position.
"He was a really good athlete. Kind of an unknown guy coming out of Louisville, but I liked his athletic ability and how well he trailed and moved sideline to sideline," said Miller.
"In terms of the 3-4, I'm a little unsure what he'll be able to do in that defense just because it is such a different read and react. His speed when he tested, I thought, was really bad. But it wasn't like he was ready. I thought he could play inside or outside in a 4-3 based on how well he tracked the ball. But he has the make-up. He's definitely strong enough to play opposite Johnson."
The key, according to Miller, is to give Heyman time to learn as a developmental prospect and not count on him too soon.
"If they can get him to learn how to lead playing that inside linebacker spot, I think he could definitely be a contributor -- probably not a starter first two years, but on special teams," he said. "They have Belcher and Brandon Siler, but you always need depth especially behind Johnson. I'm not a huge fan of [Caleb] Campbell or [Cory] Greenwood. He's a developmental guy that you could put on the practice squad for a year who could definitely help on special teams and then try to teach him how to be that 3-4 inside linebacker. But in terms of athletic ability, he's definitely got it."
That seems to be the goal for Heyman. With players like Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali on the line with him, there's a lot to learn.
"What I want to do is get around the veterans and learn from those guys as much as possible," Heyman said. "Being a rookie is about getting on special teams and just being a sponge (for knowledge). Guys on this roster have really good wisdom and really good insight about this league that they pour out. I want to be the sponge that soaks it all up."