For the first time since Dale Carter was the choice in 1992, the Chiefs went cornerback in the first round when the organization sent up the card to select, Marcus Peters with the 18th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
If the Rock were a Chiefs fan, he might say, “Finally, an elite-cornerback has come back to… Kansas City!”
Peters was the star defender for the Washington Huskies. Before the draft, the cornerback position was loaded with signature talent. Among them Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson and Hau'oli Kikaha were all off the board before the second round was half-over. And, it’s arguable that despite his character concerns, Marcus Peters was the best overall player in his elite-defender fraternity. And, now he’s a Kansas City Chiefs rookie, how good is that?
The Chiefs double-downed on cornerback talent when the team chose, Steven Nelson out of Oregon State with their third round compensatory pick (98th overall). Not only is Nelson a physically aggressive ball hawk, but it’s been documented he was one of two drafted players that didn’t miss a single tackle in 2014.
One notable good is General Manager, John Dorsey, and his penchant for playing the off-season waiver wire, might not be done adding to this group before the regular season. Especially for cornerbacks with unique skill sets and traits that can help Bob Sutton’s life as a Mad-Defensive-Scientist become a little easier on Sunday’s in the fall.
Currently, the team’s best cornerback is Sean Smith, and there are two issues with number 21 that could negatively affect his Chiefs future. First, is the speculation that Smith will eventually receive a two-game suspension for a DUI he received last Summer. Secondly, the idea that Smith is scheduled to be a free agent following the 2015 season.
Hopefully, those two items cancel each other out when Smith plays lights-out in an attempt to market himself as a valuable free agent next off-season.
To remedy this potential mix of items colliding into one another, the Chiefs must develop Peters and Nelson as viable weapons in time for game one against the Houston Texans. Additionally, the competition created by Peters and Nelson should create a domino effect to the level of dedication of players like Marcus Cooper, Jamell Fleming and Phillip Gaines. That’s because Peters and Nelson weren’t brought in to be the new water boys; nope they were brought it to bring fierce competition with an eye on the future.
Looking around the league has to be an exercise in futility for the Chiefs coaching staff. No matter the cornerbacks they draft or sign, quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers will still be on the schedule four times in 2015.
Nothing is uglier than watching the Chiefs lose games because a cornerback doesn’t turn his head and look for the ball. This organization has suffered through William Bartee seasons and old Ty Law year, but we haven’t seen the Chiefs go this young at cornerback since the early days of the Brandon’s (Flowers and Carr) during the 2008 season.
Smith is a legit number one corner, but if Gaines Peters and Nelson fail to hold up their side of the field and can’t play a solid nickel; the Chiefs will lose football games. Especially in contests where they match-up against passing offenses, which these days is pretty much every team.
Luckily, the inexperience the Chiefs possess is loaded with football talent and is coached not only by Thomas, but by Al Harris, a Pro Bowl cornerback in his day with the Packers. So despite the uphill battle in terms of stopping NFL pass-happy offenses, the Chiefs organization and current cornerback squad should be prepared to win this season.
If you get the chance to go to training camp, keep an eye on this defensive grouping, specifically watching how much the rookies and tryouts push the starters in practice. Be cognizant of Gaines and just how obvious it is that he has zero plans to lose his job this off-season.
And let’s all hope in the end, the Chiefs put together a pass defense that not only keeps up with the AFC West, but dominates the entire league.