J.J. Birden on WR Xavier Worthy: ‘He was my dream pick for the Chiefs’

The 2024 NFL draft grades are available for every team around the league as spectators weigh in on which teams made successful choices. The Kansas City Chiefs left with many questions answered at several positions, especially wide receiver.

Former Chiefs wide receiver J.J. Birden was also a track star in college before playing in the NFL, sharing similarities with first-round pick Xavier Worthy.

Chiefs Wire’s Ed Easton Jr. spoke to Birden about Kansas City’s decision to select Worthy 28th overall and his expectations for him at the professional level.

“He was my dream pick for the Chiefs,” Birden explained. “He was the guy that I wanted. And I think once I saw him run that 40-yard dash, I went to the internet and YouTube and started analyzing him myself because I wanted to see if he was just another fast guy who couldn’t play the game. But to my surprise, no, a fast guy who can actually play the game.

“Being that I was a wide receiver, you quickly recognize if a player has the skill set, the natural abilities to do, you know, the different techniques that wide receivers need and, to have that speed to add. I was so excited because I know the power of having a player like that, and the Chiefs offense and the potential he could do to the team’s explosiveness.”

Birden attended Oregon for college because it was the only school that offered a track-and-field scholarship and allowed him to play football. He explained the transition and adjusting to life in the NFL while utilizing his fantastic speed.

“I don’t think transitioning from track to football was difficult because I had always played football and was a wide receiver,” Birden said. “Catching the ball, running routes, and all that was pretty easy for me; the challenge was making it to the NFL, where you’re playing against the best of the best.

“I’m going against bigger [defensive backs]. The other thing was that everybody doubted I could play at the NFL level; even when I got to the NFL, I felt like I was [viewed] as just a mystery track guy; I didn’t think that teams believed in me. So, it was overcoming that underdog mentality and showing them I could play. There was an adjustment; there’s always a learning curve.”

The typical discussion surrounding Worthy has been whether his playing weight could potentially be a problem in the NFL. Birden, who also faced the same criticisms, doesn’t believe it will be an issue.

“I was 5-foot-10, 157 pounds. So, people labeled me as too small. So, I had to overcome certain, say, prejudices, but I was able to do it,” Birden said. “That’s one of the things I tell the fans. I’m like, don’t worry about where this weight is; he’s 165. I was 150 [or] 157 pounds. Don’t worry about that; if he has good coaching and puts in the work, the weight is not an issue at all.

“I was going against guys like Deion Sanders, who could be very physical, Darrell Green, Rod Woodson, and they were very physical, much bigger than me, and then going over the middle and worrying about getting hit by Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater. But today, they don’t have those worries; I think it’s a little easier for wide receivers. So, yeah, I’m just trying to get the Chiefs fans to relax. He’ll be fine.”

J.J. Birden is a motivational keynote speaker; check his official website for more information. 

Story originally appeared on Chiefs Wire