Undrafted but undeterred, former Iowa State linebacker gets shot at NFL with Chiefs

Charlie Riedel/AP
·3 min read

Leave college as a four-year starter, decorated with such honors as conference defensive player of the year, projected as a fourth- or fifth-round NFL Draft choice by several outlets, and not get selected?

It hurts.

“It definitely came as a surprise to me,” said linebacker Mike Rose, a standout at Iowa State who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. “A lot of waiting, but every team had their different reason for passing up on me. I’m just super glad I have the opportunity here at this great organization.”

It even felt a little familiar. Rose received one Power Five scholarship out of high school, to Iowa State.

“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.”

Only a couple of hours passed after the completion of the draft’s third day when Rose’s signing with the Chiefs was announced on Iowa State’s Twitter account.

Rose said he stayed in communication with Chiefs linebackers coach Branden Daly and has admired the organization that has played in four straight AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls in that span.

Now, it’s about finding a fit in a position group that is building with young talent. Willie Gay is set to begin his third year and Nick Bolton his second. The Chiefs used their third-round draft pick on Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chanel. Among the offseason free-agent signees are three linebackers who have appeared in at least 50 NFL games, including former Kansas State star and Blue Springs native Elijah Lee.

Rose lined up outside in the Cyclones’ 3-3-5 alignment and racked up huge numbers. His 41 career tackles for loss were second in school history. He came up with five interceptions as a junior in 2020 — his Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year season — helping the Cyclones to their first Big 12 championship game.

In Kansas City, he’s open to any direction in the team’s 4-3 base defense and figures to get first looks at middle and the strong side and play on special teams.

“The plan going forward is I’ll probably bounce around a little bit,” Rose said. “My mindset going into it is learn all three and be versatile. I feel like I’m able to play all of the positions.”

At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Rose looks the part. He won pre-draft scouting praise for his instincts and competitiveness. Appraisals also included difficulty in shedding blocks and moving in space.

The three-day rookie camp ended Monday. Organized team activities come in bursts over three weeks later in May and mandatory minicamp runs from June 14-16. Rose’s engine will continue to rev.

“My biggest impression this week, I’m going to work super hard, be relentless, run to the ball,” Rose said.

Even in the classroom, and there was plenty of that over the camp, Rose said he made it a point to be attentive, take notes, ask questions.

“This weekend was really good for me,” Rose said “I played about 50 games in one defense, and I don’t know much about 4-3s.”

But he will. Rose went undrafted but he won’t be unprepared.

“If there’s an opportunity to make this team, which I think there is, I’m just going to roll in with a chip on my shoulder,” Rose said. “I think a lot of people know I can play. I just have to show that day in and day out.”