KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs added to their depth at linebacker with the selection of Georgia Southern’s Ukeme Eligwe in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Eligwe (pronouced ew-KIM-ay ee-LEEG-way) played as a redshirt freshman for Florida State’s 2013 national championship team, picking up 22 tackles and two sacks in 10 games.
But Eligwe played just two games as as sophomore due to a foot injury, and was dismissed for violating team rules after the season. He transferred to Georgia Southern and sat out the 2015 season.
Chiefs area scout Ryne Nutt said the time off led to rust early last season, but by the end of the year he showed progressing ability to find the football and make plays.
“If you watch the beginning of the tape to the end, you’re going to see a kid progressing in terms of his instincts and how he sees the game,” Nutt said. “But by the end of the season he finds the football, and that’s the biggest barometer of eyes usually.”
In his one season at Georgia Southern he picked up 97 tackles including 9.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Nutt said the 6-2, 239-pound linebacker ran a 4.58 at his pro day. Eligwe did not attend the NFL combine but did visit the Chiefs for a private workout with general manger John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid.
Nutt indicated a failed drug test led to Eligwe’s dismissal from Florida State. The scout said the team vetted the incident and received positive reviews from Eligwe’s time at Georgia Southern.
“I think he’s learned from it,” Nutt said. “That’s something when you go into these schools you dig on that. You got to be find if the kid has matured and learned from it.”
Eligwe said the incident is in his past and owns up to everything he has done.
“I moved on from it,” Eligwe said. I went on to Georgia Southern and I did well and had no issues at Georgia Southern.”
Eligwe said he played outside linebacker in Florida State’s 3-4 defense but moved inside in Georgia Southern’s 4-3 scheme.
“With my versatility, I believe I can play inside or outside, where ever the coaches need me,” Eligwe said. “If that’s cornerback, I’ll play cornerback.”
Nutt projects Eligwe to play inside for the Chiefs.
“I think we got a good organization, I think that’s a good room,” Nutt said. “You’ve got Derrick Johnson in there, if anything that’s the due you hope he follows.”