Defensive end Neil Smith, the second player taken in...

By JOHN HENDEL, UPI Sports Writer

LIBERTY, Mo. -- Defensive end Neil Smith, the second player taken in April's NFL draft, signed a series of five one-year contracts Tuesday with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder from Nebraska was all but given a starting spot at defensive end by Coach Frank Gansz when the Chiefs made him their first selection. He is expected to fill the spot vacated by the trade of Art Still to Buffalo.


Smith's agent said the total contract package compared favorably to the $4.1 million deal signed by No. 1 pick Aundray Bruce with the Atlanta Falcons. Smith is the final draft choice to sign with the Chiefs this season.

'I'm happy with what I got, that's why I'm here,' Smith said. 'For me personally, I needed to get here and feel comfortable.

'Now that I signed, I feel relieved. I'm looked forward to getting out there.'

The Chiefs gave the Detroit Lions the No. 3 overall pick and their second-round choice (29th overall) to move up one place in the selection order to pick Smith.

Gary Kovacs, the Houston attorney who negotiated Smith's contract, said the trade was important in talks with Chiefs General Manager Jim Schaaf.


'I would never have Neil complete the agreement if I wasn't confortable with what Kansas City offered,' Kovacs said. 'In my opinion, Kansas City, by executing this contract, showed me how serious they were about Neil Smith.'

Schaaf said: 'We're just pleased to have him in camp. We're happy to have him here at this stage. He hasn't missed very much and he was here for a week in our offseason program.'

Smith is expected to provide Kansas City pass-rushing strength, an area the Chiefs suffered at during last year's 4-11 finish. Known for his quickness (4.6 seconds clocking in 40-yard dash) and 7-foot arm-span, the 22-year-old lineman amassed 113 tackles, including 24 for losses, and 14 1-2 sacks at Nebraska. He was voted the defensive most valuable player at the Japan Bowl, in which he had two sacks, deflected two passes and forced two fumbles in one half.

'That's what I'm being paid to do,' Smith said when asked about rushing the passer. 'I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get back there.

'I'm confident and I'm sure they wouldn't have picked me if they weren't confident (in me).'

Smith represents the highest pick by the Chiefs since Mike Bell was No. 2 overall in 1979 and Still was taken second in 1978. Both players developed into Pro Bowl-caliber defensive ends.


Kansas City currently has 69 rookies, free agents and selected veterans in camp, with the balance of veterans due to report Thursday.

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