Don't be fooled by the headline. ESPN's list of top 25 NFL prospects has a series of limitations to help whittle down a list of unearthed gems in the National Football League. Still, it's nice to see that Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey is getting recognized for his potential, and how productive he was in his rookie season despite very little fanfare.
The Chiefs chose Allen Bailey in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft and it was Justin Houston who received more of the accolades as the defensive rookie star of the last year for the team. But Bailey maximized his playing time and there's little doubt that the Chiefs coaching staff is well aware of what ESPN's Aaron Schatz sees. That's why Bailey earned the No. 8 spot on his list of the NFL's Top Prospects.
Now the caveat here is that the pool of players to choose from is limited. Schatz broke down the criteria:
• Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
• Entered the NFL between 2009 and 2011
• Fewer than five career games started
• Still on their initial contract
• Age 26 or younger in 2012
Within that system, Doug Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks was listed as the best overall prospect and Bailey lands at No. 25. Here's his breakdown on the Chiefs defensive lineman:
Bailey, a third-round rookie, made only eight plays last year, but five of them were defeats. He's a two-time All-ACC player who twice led the Miami Hurricanes in sacks, a versatile talent who was an outside linebacker as a freshman, then later started at both defensive end and tackle. The pessimistic term for this, of course, would be "tweener," as he's too slow to play defensive end in a 4-3, and not quite big enough to be an NFL defensive tackle. Romeo Crennel has a pretty good history with "tweeners" like Bailey who have smarts and a nonstop motor. The Chiefs occasionally used him last year as a situational pass-rusher on passing downs. This year, they'll likely use him a lot more often, and it isn't far-fetched to think he could earn a starting job in 2013.
For more on the Chiefs, make sure to check out Arrowhead Pride and get in on the discussion there.