The cornerback position is one of the more premium spots among NFL teams. Constructing defenses nowadays are settled in debates of “pass rush vs coverage.” It is difficult to invest heavily in both simultaneously. If you are lucky enough to do so, more power to you. However, even the best of teams around the league have to decipher which of the two spots is worth investing more into.
For this current Kansas City Chiefs regime, they have not focused on investing too highly into the cornerback position. Their last true “big gamble” at a premium position with that spot was when they drafted Marcus Peters in the first round. That was back in 2015.
Since moving on from him they have built their cornerback room off of late round picks on day three of the NFL Draft, undrafted free agent signings or taking chances on former top investments made by other teams. The aspect that Kansas City has done so well with, is identifying the true talents that fit their defensive scheme. Moreover, the Chiefs have shown they can win by being interchangeable on the backend. This team has done well to find the diamonds in the rough, so to speak.
Even though that has worked to this point, this feels like a year where that theory will be put to the test. The cornerback room is even younger. Due largely to the departure of Bashaud Breeland, the average age of the cornerback depth chart is only 23.75 years old. Can the lottery ticket approach continue to work for the Chiefs at cornerback? If so, it may take some heightened play from a couple defenders playing above their previous expectations.
- The Andy Reid Bowl: Coach Faces Old Team, Reid’s Legacy
- Are We Seeing The Best Work Of Steve Spagnuolo This Year?
- Are Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts More Similar Than Most Think?
- Kelce Brothers Making History In Super Bowl LVII
- Kansas City Chiefs Punch Ticket To Super Bowl LVII
Can Ward Play At A CB1 Level?
The true ceiling of Charvarius Ward has been in question the last couple of years. He has steadily improved in prime matchups. For example, he fared well against DeAndre Hopkins on a couple of plays in the red zone. His ability to learn on the fly against some of the league’s best wideouts has been a part of his game that has seemingly gone unnoticed. Meanwhile, his body positioning on the field, understanding of coverage spacings and landmarks and improved attack on the ball at the catch point has flashed occasionally.
Where has Ward been the most shaky? Sticking with routes in the inside or deep portion of the field have continued to be hit or miss. Speed is not a trait that he can consistently lean on. If the length and physicality begin to wane, Ward is essentially paddling upstream. There is evidence of him biting on fakes and double moves. Finally, being unable to frequently find the football against deep or inside routes has cost him too many times.
Ward signed his second round tender, officially locking him in for $3.4 million in 2021. Kansas City never truly believed they would lose him in free agency. By placing the second round tender on him, this is a prime opportunity for Ward to take a step forward. At the same time, this could be a make or break campaign for him, in regards to his long term outlook on the Chiefs roster.
How Will Reclamation Projects Pan Out?
It has been well documented that Chiefs general manager Brett Veach is not afraid to take chances on former top draft choices that previous teams moved on from. Cam Erving, Emmanuel Ogbah, Reggie Ragland were just a few of the names he took somewhat small gambles on early in his tenure. The results were rather strong at times, while limitations still remained. Recent moves that fall under this category have come at the cornerback position.
Deandre Baker was a late season addition last year. He was having a fine outing in the regular season finale. Unfortunately, the Georgia Bulldogs product suffered a nasty leg injury. Considering how quickly he has recovered in a relatively quick timespan, there is optimism as to if he can truly build off that press coverage ability he has shown in the past.
On the other hand, 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes is now in the mix. A trade with the Minnesota Vikings earlier this offseason breathed new life into Hughes’ career. Dealing with injuries in the past, he is hoping to secure a role while remaining on the field more often. His size (5’10’’, 189 pounds) is a bit leaner than what Kansas City has traditionally gone with at the position in recent years. Yet, Hughes makes up for it with toughness, explosiveness at the catch point and quick instincts. Another positive? The Chiefs have the chance to use him both in the slot or on the outside, as he is comfortable with both.
How Big Will The Star of L’Jarius Sneed Become?
L’Jarius Sneed did it all as a rookie in 2020. He thrived both inside and outside in the defensive formation. He ran stride for stride with some of the top receivers in the league. To boot, his speed became the ultimate game changer for the Kansas City secondary.
The cornerback secured three interceptions, had seven passes defensed and even made plays in the backfield. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was careful on choosing when to send Sneed blitzing in from a hidden angle or moving down closer towards the line of scrimmage. The Louisiana Tech product even produced three quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and two sacks.
The only problem? He was missed for a short period of time due to a collarbone injury. The immediate results and current depth chart alike will place a greater responsibility on his plate for 2021. Due to his blazing speed, sticky coverage and body control the Chiefs certainly have a star cornerback in the making with L’Jarius Sneed. Can he continue to soar to a near dominant level early on?
Is The Depth Solid Enough?
Going into training camp, I wondered if the team would be adding a veteran cornerback to help guide the youthfulness of the room. It appears as though that will not be happening any time soon. Simply put, can the Chiefs get by with their current depth at the position?
The main reason that this lottery ticket approach has worked at cornerback, is because all of their styles complement each other well. No one is set up in challenging positions or situations as of now. Furthermore, doing your job to the fullest, while still providing versatility in spots is all the team is asking for. This group has the makings of being able to get that done. Though, the margin for error could be lesser now than ever before for this current Kansas City cornerback group.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs articles throughout this week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.
Ep 142: Former Washington Quarterback And Super Bowl Champion Doug Williams Joins The Showby Full Press Coverage on February 3, 2023 at 10:19 pm
Former Washington quarterback and Super Bowl champion Doug Williams joins […]
Ep 141: Andy Reid, Eagles, And Conference Championship Weekend w/ Joe Bannerby Full Press Coverage on January 27, 2023 at 5:36 pm
Clark and Ira are joined by former Eagles President Joe Banner to talk […]
Ep 136: Remembering The Longest Game Ever Played With Larry Littleby Full Press Coverage on December 24, 2022 at 1:09 am
On the 51-year anniversary of the longest game ever played (Chiefs vs. […]
Ep 135: Hall of Fame Semifinalist Jahri Evans Joins The Showby Full Press Coverage on December 16, 2022 at 3:51 pm
Former Saints guard and 2023 HOF Semifinalist Jahri Evans joins Clark and […]
Ep 134: Remember AFL/NFL Star John Hadl with Nick Canepaby Full Press Coverage on December 8, 2022 at 2:39 pm
Former Hall of Fame voter, Nick Canepa, joins Clark and Ira to discuss the […]
Ep 133: Hall Of Fame Semifinalist Henry Ellard Joins The Showby Full Press Coverage on November 30, 2022 at 4:28 pm
Former Rams and Redskins wide receiver, Henry Ellard, joins Clark and Ira […]
Ep 132: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Semifinalists w/ Rick Gosselinby Full Press Coverage on November 22, 2022 at 6:15 pm
Clark and Ira are joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame voter Rick Gosselin […]
Ep 131: 'Football Heaven' With PFHOF Senior Advisor Joe Horriganby Full Press Coverage on November 17, 2022 at 5:55 pm
Pro Football Hall of Fame Senior Advisor, Joe Horrigan, joins Clark and […]
Ep 130: Remembering John McVay With Hall of Famer Eddie DeBartolo Jr.by Full Press Coverage on November 13, 2022 at 1:42 am
Clark and Ira are joined by Hall of Fame owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. to […]
(Episode 3.2) Offseason Talk with the "Command This!" Podcastby Full Press Coverage on February 1, 2023 at 3:04 am
George Carmi hosts Steve, Dev, and Phil as they discuss the Commanders […]
1/31 - Tom Brady and the 49ers, Aaron Rodgers Futureby Full Press Coverage on January 31, 2023 at 9:00 am
Ian and John discuss whether or not the 49ers loss in the NFC Championship […]
1/30 - Conference Championship Recap: Eagles, Chiefs Advanceby Full Press Coverage on January 30, 2023 at 10:35 am
Ian and John recap the Eagles and Chiefs victories on Conference […]
1/27 - Conference Championship Preview: Who is Going To The Super Bowl?by Full Press Coverage on January 27, 2023 at 9:50 am
Ian and John preview Conference Championship Weekend and give their picks […]
Boot 2 The Face Episode 210 "No Monè, No Monè, No Monè"by Boot 2 The Face on January 19, 2023 at 12:55 am
Rucker and EJ are back discussing Rucker going to Impacts Hard to Kill […]
1/6 - Damar Hamlin Update, Bills/Bengals, AFC Playoffs, Week 18 Picksby Full Press Coverage on January 6, 2023 at 3:11 pm
Winter Classic: Bruins Rally To Beat Penguins At Fenwayby Full Press Coverage on January 4, 2023 at 2:09 am
1/3 - Bills/Bengals Postponed; Bruins Topple Penguins In Winter Classicby Full Press Coverage on January 4, 2023 at 2:05 am
1/2 - Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Week 17, Bills/Bengalsby Full Press Coverage on January 3, 2023 at 3:22 am
12/30 - New Year's Eve, Luka Doncic, NBA Talk, Week 17 Preview and Picksby Full Press Coverage on January 1, 2023 at 2:29 am
Aaron Rodgers, Packers Win Third Straight; Playoffs In Sightby Full Press Coverage on December 27, 2022 at 7:36 pm