How Frank Clark plans to help fellow Michigan alum Taco Charlton realize his potential with Chiefs


ARLINGTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 08: Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the sidelines as the Cowboys take on the New York Giants in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs made the signing of defensive end Taco Charlton official on May 6, and no one was more excited than Pro Bowl defensive end Frank Clark.

Clark made a promise to help Charlton realize his full football potential with the Chiefs, but looking at the former Miami Dolphins performance during his NFL career, that will be a tall task.

In three years in the NFL after the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the first round, Charlton has 12 total starts, 11 tackles for loss, nine sacks and 67 tackles. For comparison, Clark (who was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft) has 17 starts, 25 tackles for loss, 22 sacks and 95 tackles in his first three years in the league.

It’s safe to say Charlton hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a first-round pick thus far in his career. Even after leaving Dallas for Miami last season, a change in scenery did not do much for the former Michigan Wolverine’s career.

So what will be different about his latest stop in Kansas City? What will he have with the Chiefs that he didn’t have at his previous starts? Well for one, he’ll have Super Bowl champion veterans to show him the way, according to Clark.

“First, just show him my work ethic,” Clark said when asked how he’s going to help Charlton turn his career around. “Show him how we do things with the Chiefs.”

“It’s a certain standard that Coach Reid has us mounted to. There are certain things that you have to be able to live up to here. We’re the champs. We’re defending our ring and there’s going to be some standards that he has to live up to coming into that room.”

Clark will also be extremely motivated to help Charlton succeed, as they were teammates back in college. They played at the University of Michigan from 2013-2014 and have remained close since entering the NFL.

“Me and Frank, we’re real close,” Charlton said during a Zoom call Wednesday. “(He’s) like my brother, like my big brother. He’s a person who at Michigan, he kind of took me under his wing and guided me.”

“Our friendship, our brotherhood has always been there. We always used to joke around about us playing with each other again if me and him had the opportunity. So now we have the opportunity to play with each other again and do something special.”

Another advantage Charlton will now have is a Super Bowl winning coaching staff guiding him, and helping him utilize his abilities. He was aware of this when he chose to go to KC, and even said it was what made him sign on the dotted line.

“Once I talked to Frank, he told me how great of a coach Coach (Steve Spagnuolo) is, how great of a person he is, and how I’d like to play for him,” Charlton said. “That’s all I needed. Once I saw that, once I got the chance myself to talk to him and talk to Coach (Brendan) Daly, I was all comfortable with coming here and excited to see what I can bring here to Kansas City.”

With all of that working in his favor, it would seem like if any team can help turn the defensive ends career around, it would be the Chiefs. By signing with the Chiefs, Charlton has given himself the best chance to “become a legend” and has shown that playing good football is what matters to him most.

“Money-wise, nothing really mattered,” Charlton said. “I just wanted to play football, wanted to go to a good situation where I could play some good football and feel like I could add myself to a good defense.”

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