Iowa State’s Mike Rose chose Chiefs for an opportunity that he now aims to seize
It’s not often you see a productive, decorated and versatile player like Mike Rose go undrafted.
The former Iowa State Cyclone is a two-time First-Team All-Big 12 winner and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors en route to the Big 12 title game in 2020. His 41 career tackles for loss rank second in school history and he led all FBS linebackers in interceptions just this past season.
Rose certainly wasn’t expecting to go undrafted, but he’s out to take full advantage of the opportunity that lies ahead with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Yeah, I think it definitely came as a surprise to me. A lot of waiting, but I think every team had a different reason for passing up on me. But I’m just super glad to have an opportunity here at this great organization. I’m just looking forward to doing my thing in minicamp and making the 53.”
With options aplenty following the draft, he chose Kansas City for a trio of reasons. Ultimately, it seems like the conversations Rose had with the coaching staff during the pre-draft process sold him on the Chiefs being the right opportunity for him. That seems to be a common theme among both players undrafted and drafted by the team.
“I’ve had good conversations with Coach (Brendan) Daly, the linebackers coach. I think this organization has done a lot of good things, you can see it over the years, and I felt like there was an opportunity for me here. I think all those things together were the main reason I decided to.”
While the opportunity is certainly there for Rose, the linebacker group in Kansas City is one of the more competitive positions on the roster. Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. are joined by recent third-round pick Leo Chenal to round out the top of the group. But there are also veteran players like Darius Harris, Jermaine Carter Jr., and Elijah Lee who remain in the mix. There’s also fellow undrafted free agent signing Jack Cochrane out of South Dakota.
For Rose, the competition and situation are all-too-familiar. He was a three-star recruit out of high school and didn’t have many offers. When he first landed with Iowa State, he had to earn his keep.
“I wasn’t highly recruited out of high school,” Rose said. “I had to earn my spot in college. This chip on my shoulder and being counted out, it doesn’t feel all too different to me honestly.”
During rookie minicamp, Rose aimed to make the right first impression on the coaching staff. That started with a willingness to learn whichever linebacker positions they wanted him to play. By all accounts, it seems that he was successful in doing so.
“I feel like my biggest impression this week was just I’m going to work super hard, be relentless, run to the ball,” Rose explained. “Even in my note study and how I’m attentive in meetings, asking questions, and I feel like this week was really good for me.”
There is still a long path traveled to make the 53-man roster, though. Like his new teammate, Leo Chenal, Rose is learning an entirely different defensive system after playing in a stack defense at Iowa State.
“I’ve been in a 3-3-5 three-high defense for four years, I played about 50 games in one defense, and I don’t know much about 4-3s, so this weekend was really good for me,” Rose said. “And I’m just glad I can use this next week to take the film, take the playbook and just hone in on what I can do to be more comfortable in this defense.”
It’s sure to be an adjustment for Rose, but how he was used in Ames, Iowa can help inform his play in Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable, earning the trust of the coaching staff and seizing the opportunity.