By Adam Teicher/The Kansas City Star
The Kansas City Chiefs stood up for the little guys with their two choices in the second round of the NFL draft.
Between them, Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster and Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas weigh just a few pounds more than 335-pound offensive lineman Colin Brown, the heaviest of the Chiefs.
The Chiefs are hoping McCluster and Arenas make up for their small statures with outsized impacts and dynamic play. Both were fast, productive players in college.
“When we first got here, watching ourselves on tape in preseason games and then in regular-season games, something we saw a difference with the other teams that we were playing against was team speed,” Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said. “That was one thing we needed to improve. You want to get good football players who are fast.
“We’re a faster football team today.”
The Chiefs went for more size in their two third-round picks. They selected 305-pound Illinois guard Jon Asamoah with their first choice and, after trading with Houston to acquire another pick, 250-pound Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki.
In a traditional sense, the Chiefs addressed only a couple of needs. Arenas and McCluster have the ability to solve the Chiefs’ long-standing need for a kickoff and punt returner.
The Chiefs indicated they will use McCluster as a receiver, most likely in the slot when they go to three-, four- and even five-receiver formations. He’s just 5-8 and 165 pounds, but Pioli said they wouldn’t limit themselves to a defined role yet for a player of McCluster’s big-play ability.
“Those roles will define themselves a little more clearly, but … Dexter is a guy who’s lined up at running back, he’s lined up at receiver, he’s done some return work prior to becoming a big part of their offense, he’s lined up in the Wildcat, he’s done a lot of things,” Pioli said.
“Our staff will be able to use him in different positions on the field, in different places. … He’s been a third back, a change-of-pace back, he’s been a receiver.”
Chiefs fans might compare McCluster instead to Dante Hall because of his size, speed and ability to impact a game in different ways.
“He did some amazing, amazing things,” McCluster said. “I’ve heard a lot about him and hopefully I’ll be talked about like he was.
“When I’m at receiver, I don’t miss a beat. When I’m at running back, I don’t miss a beat.”
McCluster returned some kicks early in his career at Ole Miss but was removed from those duties to preserve him for offense. McCluster said he can be a top returner in the NFL.
“I do it every day,” he said. “I work hard at it every day and it’s not going to be a problem at all. Kansas City had me work out and catch some punts for them. I think I did a great job.”
McCluster and Arenas played against each other in college.
“He’s a handful, to sum it up,” Arenas said. “I had to cover that guy for all of my four years at ‘Bama. You’ve got to bring your A game for a guy like that. He’s fast. He’s an athlete and a competitor as well.”
Arenas, 5-9 and 197 pounds, could initially challenge for playing time as a nickel back.
“He’s one of the best blitzing defensive backs that I’ve seen in a long time,” Pioli said.
On Saturday, the Chiefs added Ole Miss safety Kendrick Lewis (5-11, 192). Four of the team’s 2010 seven picks came from SEC schools.