KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs outside linebacker Dee Ford didn’t have the impact of a first-round draft pick during his rookie season.
Ford appeared in 16 games with no starts, totaling seven tackles (three solo), 1 ½ sacks and five quarterback pressures.
While the production doesn’t match Ford’s lofty status as the 23rd overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, playing behind established Pro Bowl outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali will do that.
Ford saw action on 122 total snaps on defense (11.5 percent of team’s total), according to snap count statistics at FootballOutisders.com.
Still, the limited playing time was enough to leave Ford without a sense of fulfillment as he entered the offseason.
“I’m a perfectionist, so I walked away ready to get to work,” Ford said Monday. “I feel like I left a lot of plays out on the field.”
Ford said he took some time off after the season before committing himself to training in Miami.
The 6-foot-2 Ford said he currently weighs 245 pounds and is happy with that weight – he entered the league at 252 pounds – and his offseason focused on getting stronger.
“Anytime I’m strength training, it’s more so overall strength and I like to cut body fat at the same time, so everything that I do is athletic,” Ford said. “Hard movements, high intensity, that’s what type of workouts I like to do. Things that force you, you have to be flexible and strong, too, I do those type of movements. They’re not really regular type of workouts.”
He also dove into sessions that involved reviewing game film.
“I spent a lot,” Ford said of the time breaking down film. “Of course, you don’t want to overdo it. I looked at some key things that I know I need to work on and it all goes back to technicalities, fundamentals, all those types of things.”
Rushing the passer was Ford’s strength when the Chiefs selected him out of Auburn.
He made the transition from a college defensive end to outside linebacker, and that adjustment came with some growing pains.
A lasting image of Ford arrived in Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers when he turned and went the opposite direction of a running play.
The offseason film room study sessions reflect Ford wants to ensure he won’t leave that type of play on the field again.
“Everything in general,” Ford said on areas he identified, “more so play recognition, knowing what to expect, situational things.”
Ford enters the 2015 offseason workout program in the same position he was in during his rookie season behind Houston and Hali, who took a pay cut to return.
Despite the circumstances, Ford believes he can contribute based on a commitment to self-improvement in recent months.
“Work makes you confident,” Ford said. “When I’m on the field, I’m very arrogant and I feel like I’m the best at what I do. We’re all going to compete and we’re all going to bring things to the table to make each other better. I just know at the end of the day we’re going to get what we earn. I’m confident with the work; I put in a lot of work.
Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: