Daniel Sorensen makes impact with Chiefs

NOVEMBER 2016 – Daniel Sorensen at 6-2, 208 is wispy thin for an NFL linebacker.

Sorensen is really not fast enough to play safety in the NFL either. His 4.67 40-yard dash time prior to the 2014 draft was below average.

In fact, his profile at NFL.com leading into that draft has a sizable paragraph under weaknesses: “Has small hands. Is stiff in the hips and plays a bit flat-footed. Is challenged by elite speed and lacks ideal size to match up against tight ends. Is not a big hitter. Does not possess the top-end speed to range to the sideline and make plays on the ball — not a true center fielder. Average career production on the ball. Poor leaper. Will be a 24-year-old rookie.”

So Sorensen had no chance to make an impact for the Kansas City Chiefs, right?

Go ahead and ask New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Against the Saints on October 16, Sorensen had a pick-6 to give the Chiefs a lead they did not relinquish. He also tied a career high with six tackles, including the Chiefs only sack. The Chiefs back-up safety was pretty much everywhere.

“He practices so hard every day,” said coach Andy Reid, who, like Sorensen, played at Brigham Young. “He was right in the right spot. Berry tips the ball. He picks it off, and once he gets it into his hands, he kind of knows what to do with it. He’s pretty good with all of that stuff. He had some nice tackles. The guy works so hard that you’re glad that happened.”

While the general public may have been surprised at Sorensen’s breakout game, his teammates weren’t.

“He shows it every day in practice,” defensive lineman Dontari Poe said. “He shows us what he can do. He goes 100 percent all the time. Danny’s been real good. He kind of keeps quiet, because he’s not real talkative. But he goes about his work like a pro. You saw the result (against New Orleans).”

Said fellow safety Eric Berry, “He’s very versatile, and he works hard too. He has a good understanding of the game and what’s going on with the defense. He’s very smart. He helps us out a lot.

“He can play safety and he can also play linebacker. His understanding of the defense, playing two different positions and playing them well, will help him out a lot. The sky is definitely the limit. As long as he keeps working like he’s been working, and stays healthy, he can be one of the greats.”

One of the greats? Sorensen won’t say the same thing about himself.

“There is no ceiling, right?,” he said, somewhat reluctantly. “I just want to keep getting better at everything. There’s always something to improve in.”

The key for Sorensen has been his work ethic. He’s at the Chiefs practice facility long before he’s required to be each day, watching film and lifting weights. He stays long after practice, watching film and lifting weights. So his success is not a shock to those closest to him.

“I see what happens before he gets to the game,” Berry said. “I see him up here early, well before the practice starts. He’s watching film on the opponent, for special teams and for defense. There are a lot of things he does after practice and before practice. It’s not just what takes place on the field. He does a lot of preparation outside of what’s required. That’s starting to show up.

“He just got to the ball (on the interception). That’s what we emphasize. When the ball is in the air, everybody hustle to the ball. He’s really good at that, besides the assignments of the game. He has a good motor.”

Berry was not surprised Sorensen scored with the interception.

“Not at all,” he said. “You’ve got to check him out on kickoffs to really see how fast he is and how quickly he can get downfield. It is stuff we’ve all seen. Everybody got to see it because he had the ball in his hand. He plays like that all the time.”

About the only thing Sorensen appears not to be able to do well is talk up his own game.

“It was fun,” he said. “I made some plays. A lot of it was my teammates opening some things up. Eric Berry with the tipped pass. I was in the right place at the right time and I was able to make the play. But a lot of guys contributed to that success.

“(On the sack) Their guard might have gone down a play or two before. The guard and tackle blocked down on our defensive tackle and end, and it opened up a hole in front of me.

“We do a good job during the week focusing on practice and getting the game plan down. The coaches do a great job of drawing things up and putting us in the right place. I just try to go out and do my job the best I can. I do my best to know exactly what I’m supposed to do. I try to put myself in an opportunity to make a play.”

Was Sorensen surprised he reached the end zone? “Uh, yeah, I guess,” he said. “It’s not something I’ve done before. I was just trying to make a play. I got the ball and tried to make a play.”

Probably for the reasons stated, Sorensen was not drafted in 2014. The average NFL safety shelf-life is 3.3 years, but Sorensen remains with the Chiefs and making an impact.

“It’s something that I could hardly imagine three years ago,” he said. “You have a great organization here, with great teammates that I can look to, and I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here. I just try to grow every week. I just try to hone in on my craft and do the best I can.”

The hardest part moving forward will be keeping his skills a secret.

Article by David Smale.

For more articles on the Chiefs, visit: http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/chiefs/

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