KANSAS CITY, Mo. For the record, the guy everybody keeps comparing to Wes Welker didn't ask for the number 83. Honest. Some wise-apple gave it to him.
"I requested a number in the teens," wideout Devon Wylie explained Friday afternoon, shortly after the Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up their first day of rookie mini-camp. "(It) wasn't necessarily my choice.
"It wasn't me. No, I've always been (the number) seven. I mean, I wore seven in high school and an 18 once in college. I like single numbers and teen numbers, but this number in the 80s, that was one of them (that) was available, and they just gave it to me. So, (I'm) just rolling with it."
He does that. The dude rolls left. The dude rolls right. Mostly, he just rolls to daylight. In his first practice as a Chief, the kid who wears Welker's number seemed to be doing a pretty fair tribute to the Patriots star, the NFL's poster boy for pint-sized slot receivers.
"I'm going to have to increase my speed in my own way, and I'm going to have to harness it, keep my feet underneath me a lot better," noted Wylie, a fourth-round selection out of Fresno State and one of four Kansas City draft picks to agree to terms Friday. "I felt like I could have played a little better. But I've got to play as fast as I can all the time in order to keep my speed and use that as an edge."
Because the new Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't allow contact during mini-camp, first impressions of the new faces were largely of the superficial variety. First-round pick Dontari Poe, who was broken off from the group for individual workout sessions, is a mountain on two legs. Second-round pick Jeff Allen, a left tackle at the University of Illinois, appeared perfectly comfortable at left guard. And Wylie? Wind him up, watch him burn.
"Well, he showed some pretty good quickness and things as far as catching the ball," coach Romeo Crennel allowed. "What he was advertised as, it showed.
"I mean, he has really good quickness and he runs pretty good routes. I think he'll be able to get a step on defenders and have a chance to make plays."
Several steps, if the resume translates. As with Poe, Wylie boosted his stock big-time after a stellar showing at the NFL Combine, running a 4.39 in the 40-yard-dash he's been hand-timed at 4.27 in college and bench-pressing 225 pounds 17 times.
No one who saw him up close during drills could argue with those numbers. Nor were there any signs of the foot injury that forced Wylie, a disciple of Chicago's Devin Hester, to take a medical redshirt year in 2010.
"It feels completely different a lot faster, a lot more intense," Wylie said of his first dance with NFL competition. "Every detail is extremely important. Just running around in my routes, I can already feel there are more guys around me. There's less space. Everyone's catching on quicker. And everyone out here is hungry."
Wyile's wants a bite of the action, too; other than Poe, the California native is the Kansas City rookie that probably has the earliest shot at regular playing time this fall. The Chiefs were so desperate for help at the inside receiver spot last year that they signed Keary Colbert, who hadn't played in the NFL for almost two seasons, to try and fill the gap. Throw in Dwayne Bowe's contract dispute, and Wylie nicknamed "Wiggles" by his Fresno teammates figures to get plenty of reps over the spring and summer.
"You definitely have to go as hard as you can. There is no real way of pacing it," the rookie said. "You have to learn as much as you can in this short time during this mini-camp. We have to get ready for the team camp."
If Friday was any indication, pace won't be an issue. Like Welker, Wylie's got a pair of talons for hands. Like Welker, the cat gets from zero to 60 in about two seconds flat. And like Welker, he's a sawed-off little son of a gun in cleats, Wylie just about hits 5-foot-9.
"Part of my game is being elusive and quick, and being able to dodge hitters," said Wylie, who caught 56 balls for 716 yards last autumn. "That's the way I've been able to survive this far and been able to be successful with the size that I have. And yeah, definitely, I feel like I can play with this size of players."
Elusive is good. Elusive and cocky is even better.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org