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Chiefs draft WR Wylie with fourth-round pick

Saturday, April 28, 2012 | 7:38 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — Devon Wylie has gotten Wes Welker comparisons "every day of my life."

They're not about to stop in Kansas City.

The Chiefs chose the shifty, undersized wide receiver out of Fresno State with their fourth-round pick Saturday, adding a potential target over the middle for quarterback Matt Cassel.

"People consider me to be an undersized slot receiver, and that's fine if that's the way they want to look at it. I take it as a compliment," Wylie said. "Wes Welker has shown to be an amazing receiver — one of the most productive season-in and season-out. So that's fine with me."

It was the first move by Kansas City to add a skill-position player in the draft.

The Chiefs added another with sixth-round pick Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M and drafted Michigan wide receiver Junior Hemingway in the seventh round. Alabama defensive back De'Quan Menzie was the pick in the fifth round and San Diego State defensive tackle Jerome Long in the seventh.

The Chiefs plugged a gaping hole at defensive tackle with Dontari Poe in the first round and went for offensive line depth with their second- and third-round picks.

"Every once in a while you get that reminder that you better have quality depth and you can't have too many good players," Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said. "Even if you think you have good front-line players, you can never have too many good players."

Wylie, who can also return punts and kicks, turned heads at the scouting combine when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds and benched 225 pounds 17 times.

Fifteen teams showed up at Fresno State's pro day to watch Wylie, though many scouts had him going in later rounds because of durability concerns. Hamstring and ankle injuries caused him to miss four games his sophomore and junior seasons, and a stress fracture in his foot sustained during training camp wiped out what would have been his senior season.

He wound up redshirting two years ago and put together a strong season for a poor Fresno State team in 2011, catching 56 passes for 716 yards and a touchdown.

"Some of those things I consider snake-bitten injuries, a hamstring strain or something you really can't do anything about," Wylie said. "The good thing about it is none of it is lack of durability. It's just unfortunate things."

Kansas City used a patchwork group that included Keary Colbert and Jerheme Urban in the slot last season, and the 5-foot-9 Wylie appears to be a much better fit for the position.

Just like Welker in New England.

Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was behind the move that brought the former Texas Tech star to the Patriots. He was the GM in New England in 2007, when he sent second- and seventh-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to acquire Welker for quarterback Tom Brady.

Welker has emerged as one of the league's top wide receivers. He's piled up 650 catches for 7,226 yards in his career, getting voted to the Pro Bowl four times.

There is also this connection: Recently hired Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was the wide receiver coach in New England just before Welker arrived. His system has some of the same elements of those Patriots offenses, which would ultimately use Welker so effectively.

The next Welker could be the best-case scenario for Chiefs fans, many of whom have instantly compared Wylie to Dexter McCluster, who was picked in the second round of the 2010 draft.

"You know what? I take pride in being called the Wes Welker, but there are other guys that I'd like to be considered like," Wylie said, rattling off Steve Smith and Devin Hester. "Those are two guys that I really like to consider to have the same abilities."

Menzie was the seventh player drafted from national champion Alabama and the fifth player from its defense. His fellow cornerback, Dre Kirkpatrick, went 17th overall to Cincinnati.

At 5-10 and with decent speed, Menzie has the physical tools to transition to safety, where Kansas City's lack of depth was exposed last season following an injury to Eric Berry. Menzie is also talented enough to stay at cornerback behind incumbents Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt.

He's the second Alabama defensive back picked by the Chiefs in recent years. Javier Arenas was chosen shortly after McCluster in the second round of the 2010 draft, and it was Menzie who took over his spot as the "star" cornerback in the Crimson Tide lineup.

"You really can't replace Javier Arenas because he was a great player, great returner," Menzie said. "He was physical and a never-give-up type guy."

Menzie believes he's the same kind of guy.

Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel believe they drafted a few of them this weekend.


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