KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs chose Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas with their fourth-round pick Saturday, finally addressing the offense after spending their first two picks on defense.
Thomas fits what coach Andy Reid likes in a running back. He possesses exceptional speed and quickness, and can catch the ball out of the backfield or line up as a wide receiver. He can also be used as a punt and kick returner, another area of need for the Chiefs.
"I feel like I'm an entertainer on the field," said Thomas, who left Oregon after a junior season that was cut short by injuries. "I have a passion for this game."
The Chiefs picked Auburn defensive end Dee Ford in the first round Thursday night. They went with cornerback Phillip Gaines out of Rice with their lone pick on Friday.
The Chiefs were seeking a replacement for return specialist Dexter McCluster, who signed with the Titans in free agency. Thomas set records for punt and kick return yardage at Oregon, and while he was showcased more as a running back last season, he also has good hands.
"First and foremost, he's an explosive playmaker," said Trey Koziol, the Chiefs' area scout for the West Coast. "He has world-class speed, ran on the track team at Oregon. Just versatility."
The Chiefs already have Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles — another former track standout — and bruising Knile Davis, their third-round pick a year ago. That means it is more likely Thomas will evolve into a pass-catching threat rather than an every-down running back.
In fact, some people have compared him to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
"He's a great player, but I have a way different style of play," Thomas said. "I can also run the ball, catch the ball out of the backfield. I'm a dangerous return man. I feel like I have a lot to contribute to this organization."
Thomas first started turning heads as a 12-year-old playing in a Pop Warner league for rapper Snoop Dogg, who claims to have given him the nickname "Black Mamba." He eventually starred as a wide receiver, running back and defensive back at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.
Koziol said he's been keeping track of Thomas since his freshman season at Oregon. The former five-star recruit averaged nearly 160 all-purpose yards his first season on campus, and emerged as one of the nation's most versatile threats as a sophomore. He ran for 594 yards and eight TDs this past season, even though he missed nearly four games due to injuries.
"You know, when it comes down to it, you have to look at what you see on tape," Koziol said. "You don't see this kid get caught from behind. ... The speed on tape doesn't lie."
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