‘Just like Dory’? What Chiefs coaches have seen from their rookies in early practices

Xavier Worthy wasn’t wearing a helmet, but that didn’t stop him from actively participating in Thursday’s Kansas City Chiefs practice.

Worthy, KC’s first-round pick out of Texas, didn’t officially take part in the Organized Team Activities workout because of a hamstring injury. But he was still next to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy for much of the morning and afternoon session, chatting with the coach throughout.

“Right now, the biggest thing is for him to understand what we do offensively. And then not just one (receiver) position, but all the positions,” Nagy said of Worthy on Thursday. “... It’s really valuable for him to be able to tell me, while we’re standing there in practice, where he’s supposed to go and what he’s supposed to do, more so than the physical routes.”

Though the preference would be for Worthy to be out there, Nagy said getting both feedback and instruction remained significant.

“It’s been really good for him,” Nagy said. “He’s been great.”

Worthy is far from the only Chiefs rookie trying to make a good first impression during this early phase of the offseason.

With help from the Chiefs assistant coaches, who spoke to reporters Thursday, let’s look at where some Chiefs-drafted players stand through two weeks of OTAs.

Kingsley Suamataia

Suamataia — the Chiefs’ second-round pick out of BYU — is expected to compete for the starting left-tackle position with second-year pro Wanya Morris.

To this point, the most significant emphasis for Suamataia has been learning the playbook.

“Just like for wide receivers at the rookie position, things can go fast,” Nagy said. “There’s new protection calls for Kingsley, understanding how we do things. Techniques and fundamentals can be very different.”

The good news? Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck says he likes to emphasize to his young players an old saying: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“We’ll do it day by day,” Heck said of teaching the rookies. “And we’ve got these various phases — minicamp and training camp — a lot of time to get this done.”

Suamataia’s early evaluation remains limited because of the setting. OTAs take place without pads and with almost no focus on the run game.

“Most of the time, it’s advantage defense, to be honest, because there’s a lot of passes,” Nagy said. “So when we get to the run blocking, when we get to the play actions, et cetera, that are real, I’m excited to see where (Kingsley’s) at.”

Jaden Hicks and Kamal Hadden

When talking about the Chiefs’ two drafted rookies in the secondary — fourth-round safety Jaden Hicks and sixth-round cornerback Kamal Hadden — Chiefs defensive backs coach Dave Merritt referenced a persistent blue fish from a Disney film.

“Having these two guys, they’re just like Dory: They’re just swimming right now. ‘Just keep swimming,’” Merritt said with a smile. “It (the playbook) is overloading them mentally. But happy to have these guys in the room and just so thrilled that you have fresh blood in there.”

Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said there’s good reason for Hicks to feel like he’s buried in information; coaches are having him play both safety positions and also some as a sixth defensive back in dime coverages.

“But it’s a compliment to him,” Spagnuolo said. “I think he’s got some skills where he can play a lot of different (positions). ... We’ll find out where that is, but he’s got a lot of catching up to do.”

Merritt says he’s worked to build up the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Hicks, who fell in April’s draft after being projected by some analysts as a second-round pick.

“I tell him all the time, I say, ‘You know what? You are the prototype safety,’” Merritt said. “He has the body, the size, the mental to be able to be a really good football player in this league.”

Merritt says the 6-1, 192-pound Hadden reminds him of former Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who played for KC from 2019-21.

Spagnuolo also said he was impressed with Hadden’s demeanor during rookie minicamp earlier this month.

“The first thing that stuck out: He’s not afraid to be loud. I like those guys. They come right in, and they’ve got a voice to them,” Spagnuolo said. “Now, he doesn’t know everything yet, and it’s a little bit different. He made a couple of mistakes today. But I think he’s got some self-confidence about him, which you need at that position.”

Jared Wiley

Chiefs tight ends coach Tom Melvin said it’s been “nice” to have fourth-round rookie Jared Wiley as an addition to his position group.

“We’ve got a lot in — we’re throwing a lot at all these guys,” Melvin said, “and he’s done a very good job of assimilating to what we call things.”

Wiley has experience in this type of setting. The 6-6, 249-pound TCU product learned five different offenses during his college tenure.

Melvin said the Chiefs offense is similar to what Wiley had at Texas in his final year under coach Steve Sarkisian. The volume of plays, however, is much greater.

“He’s playing a little bit faster every day we go. So it’s good to see,” Melvin said. “He’s got a long way to go, but we’re encouraged with where he’s at and what he’s been doing.”