The Chiefs have Georgia on their mind

Immediately after Chris Conley was selected by the Chiefs in third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, second-year Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray texted the Georgia wide receiver. “Get ready to come and grind with me again,” messaged the former Bulldogs passer. Murray, Georgia’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, threw to Conley for three years, including in 2013, when Conley led the team with 45 receptions and 651 receiving yards. The duo is elated about their reunion Kansas City. “It helps tremendously. It helps because Aaron knows how I work,” Conley said. “He’s able to ease that transition a little more.” Perhaps the Chiefs will start planting some Sanford Stadium-like hedges outside Arrowhead Stadium. In the past five years, Kansas City has drafted five Georgia players. That group includes Murray, Conley, safety Sanders Commings, linebacker Justin Houston and linebacker Ramik Wilson, who was selected in the fourth round (118th overall) of this 2015 NFL Draft. Under general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have selected four former Georgia players since 2013 and at least one Bulldog every year. In addition Wilson has become close to Houston, who was drafted by former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. The elite pass rusher often comes back to Georgia at the end of NFL seasons and works out or rehabs there. Wilson and Murray both grew up in Tampa, Florida, and have known each other for years prior to reconnecting in Kansas City. “It’s a great fit,” Wilson said. “It makes (it) feel like home. I can go to them for anything.” While the Georgia players enjoy a comfortable setting in Kansas City with plenty of former teammates, the Chiefs get players who have proven their ability at the highest level of college football. “Everyone always talks about the speed of the game and they say the speed of the SEC is the closest you get,” Conley said. “Hopefully that will translate.” That SEC background is likely one reason Dorsey remains enamored with Georgia players. However, he drafted Conley and Wilson because of their specific skill set — not just their conference pedigree. The Chiefs liked Conley so much that they traded their third-round pick (80th pick overall) and sixth-round pick (193rd overall) to the Vikings in exchange for Minnesota’s 76th overall pick. The 6-2, 213-pound Conley has an impressive blend of size and athleticism. At the 2015 NFL Combine, he led all participants with a 45-inch vertical leap and tied for fourth with a 40 time of 4.35 seconds. Conley used that speed to average 18.3 yards per catch while posting 657 receiving yards and scoring eight touchdowns during his senior year in 2014. “He can go deep. He really does have some nice feet in terms of running after the catch and making guys miss. He’s got enough size to break the arm tackle,” Dorsey said. “He has got the athletic skills to just kind of blend right in.” Conley has blended in quickly thus far, wowing observers and teammates during offseason practices. “He can play some football,” said veteran wide receiver Jason Avant. “He has the potential to be really, really good.” The Chiefs need Conley to be good and quickly — given the glaring hole on Kansas City’s roster. The Chiefs’ wide receivers did not score a touchdown last season. Wilson also fits a need at middle linebacker where 32-year-old star Derrick Johnson is coming off a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. The rookie’s production and range belie his 4.74 speed in the 40. A three-year starter at Georgia who can adeptly cover tight ends, the 6-2, 237-pound linebacker led the SEC in tackles in 2013 and added 110 more in 2014. His fellow Bulldogs linebacker, Houston, remains unsigned after the franchise player led the NFL with 22 sacks last year. Meanwhile, Commings, who is trying to overcome two injury-plagued seasons, will try to help fill the void left by safety Eric Berry. The challenge for Murray, the presumptive No. 3 quarterback and a possible eventual successor to starter Alex Smith, is to continue to master the complexities of the Chiefs’ West Coast Offense. “Even Aaron is still learning things about this offense,” Conley said. “When Aaron was at Georgia, he knew everything there was. This offense is so big and grand, and every year wrinkles are added.” As Conley tries to master his own playbook and adjust to life in the NFL, having fellow Bulldogs on the roster only can help the rookie receiver. “There are so (many) new things going on and so many things flying,” Conley said. “Having familiar faces and guys who can kind of show you the ropes is so beneficial at this point. I’m loving it.” Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jfedotin

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