Kansas City’s top overall draft selection in 2018, DE Breeland Speaks, who was released by the team during final roster cuts in early September, has been signed to the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad, per the team’s official Twitter account on Friday.
We have signed S Dallin Leavitt to the active roster from the practice squad and added DE Breeland Speaks to the practice squad.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 2, 2020
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Sports Illustrated senior NFL reporter Albert Breer first reported that Las Vegas was hosting the former Chiefs pass rusher for a visit on Wednesday.
Speaks Never Caught on in Kansas City
While the 24-year-old was among the more surprising cuts made by the Super Bowl champions last month, the move was not totally unexpected given the depth along the Chiefs’ defensive front entering the 2020 season.
Kansas City GM Brett Veach originally traded up to draft Speaks in the second round (No. 46 overall) in 2018. The 6-foot-3-inch, 285-pound defensive end played to a limited degree of success during his rookie season, posting 24 total tackles, eight QB hits, two fumble recoveries and 1.5 sacks in four starts over 16 games.
Unfortunately for Speaks, his sophomore campaign came to a halt after an MCL sprain and meniscus tear ended his season during the Chiefs’ second preseason game. The hits kept coming when Speaks was later hit with a four-game suspension in December 2019 for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy while on the injured reserve list.
Brett Veach Sounds Off on Decision to Cut Speaks
Veach, who saw enough in Speaks to make him the first draft pick of his tenure in K.C., was asked about the decision to part ways with the Ole Miss product during his media availability on September 6. While some NFL roster transactions are more black and white, Veach made it clear that Speaks was up against a number of factors that led to his release.
“That was certainly a unique scenario where, of all the positions – I certainly think we have a very good roster, a very talented roster – that defensive line position is probably our deepest position,” said Veach. “With Breeland, a different scheme from when he got here. I, and our staff, thought in his rookie year he did some things that you can really lay a foundation on. And we all know that he came in a little out of shape the next year, and then he had the injury. So, I think when you get behind the eight ball in professional football, it’s tough. And then when you get behind the eight ball on a roster with a deep defensive line, it’s even tougher. I will say this – credit to the kid – he did come in in shape and worked hard to get that weight off. Again, he was just up against a very deep and talented defensive line class.”
While Speaks’ workouts with the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings in recent weeks did not amount to a contract, the young pass rusher now has his second chance to catch on in Las Vegas under third-year defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.