Alex Smith among 6 ex-bosses in College Football HOF pick

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Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson.

The National Football Foundation has announced the 2023 election for the College Football Hall of Fame, which includes 80 players and nine coaches from the FBS. Among those players are six former members of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The former Chiefs who are on the 2023 ballot and also on the 2022 ballot are tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, defenseman Eric Berry, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and general manager John Dorsey, who is on the ballot for his time as a linebacker at UConn.

The ex-chiefs up for election in 2023 are quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Derrick Johnson.

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Johnson’s college honors include “Two-time First Team All-American (consensus 2003, unanimous 2004) and recipient of the 2004 Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy…2004 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and three-time First Team All-Big 12 performer… Led Horns to three 11-win seasons and ranks third all-time at UT with 458 career tackles,” according to the NFF website.

Smith’s college résumé consists of “2004 First Team All-American, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy picks … 2004 SI National Player of the Year, who led Utah to their first-ever 12-0 season, a BCS Bowl Victory (2005 Fiesta) and a No. 4 final national ranking… 2004 MWC Offensive Player of the Year boasted two championship titles and multiple school records,” according to the NFF.

Voting for the Class of 2023 runs until June 30th. The results are then sent to the NFF Honors Court, which determines the members of the Class of 2023.


Chiefs makes analytics-driven front office hire

In other Chiefs-related news, the defending AFC West champion is hiring Marc Richards as a football research analyst on June 3, according to ESPN’s Seth Walder.

Richards was part of the 2021 Big Data Bowl winning team, which also included Wei Peng, Sam Walczak and Jack Werner. The Big Data Bowl is a competition hosted by the NFL that “challenges professional and aspiring amateur data scientists to come up with innovative approaches to a specific challenge,” according to the league.

In 2021, the topic of the Big Data Bowl was analyzing pass coverage in the NFL. Richards’ team won the competition by “developing match outcome models for each frame of the data as well as classified man-vs-zone coverage schemes to measure each defender’s ability before and after the pass.” Your winning entry can be viewed here.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid have proven over the years together that they are willing to incorporate analytics into player development and salary cap management. With Football Operations Vice Presidents Chris Shea and Brandt Tilis also part of the analytics deployment catalyst in Kansas City’s front office, the Chiefs are now supporting their analytics-driven approach to football by adding Richards.


Richards’ passport coverage data could help Chiefs

A strong connection can be made between Richards’ winning submission in the 2021 Big Data Bowl and Kansas City’s current roster build.

After cornerback Charvarius Ward lost to free agency this offseason, the Chiefs cornerback room overall heads into the 2022 season young and inexperienced. The oldest and most experienced player among the cornerbacks is newcomer Lonnie Johnson Jr., who is 26 years old is old and has played four seasons in the NFL. Besides him, the other cornerbacks who have played at least two seasons in the NFL are Deandre Baker (3), Rashad Fenton (3), L’Jarius Sneed (2), and Luq Barcoo (2).

Then add in rookie first-round pick Trent McDuffie, who is projected to be a week one starter for Kansas City, and it would make sense for the team to try to accelerate the development of the up-and-coming cornerback room.

One way to do this is to further expand on existing analytics-based coaching methods. Hiring Richards could give the Chiefs the analysis they need in the cornerback room to do just that.

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