Oct 25, 2013; Provo, UT, USA; Boise State Broncos running back Jay Ajayi (27) is tackled by Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen (9) during the first half at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Brigham Young won 37-20. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Evaluating Daniel Sorensen's Chances Of Making The Kansas City Chiefs

Undrafted free agency was bound to be an important part of this offseason because of the lack of picks the Chiefs had to work with during the draft. Fortunately for the Chiefs, the draft was considered to be a deep one so there were a few good players who went undrafted. Considering the way John Dorsey was able to sift through undrafted prospects and players who didn’t make the final cut, there is some promise in the Chiefs finding a contributor from the group of undrafted players they’ve brought in.

One of those undrafted rookies is Daniel Sorensen, a safety from BYU. Sorensen is not your typical defensive back who would jump out at you as a guy with raw skills. Marcus Cooper, last season’s big surprise, measures at over 6-foot, 2-inches and runs a 4.4 40. Those are numbers that get your attention.

Sorensen is a bit different. He ran a 40 yard dash just a shade under 4.7 at the NFL Combine and wasn’t very productive as a college player at BYU, but he’s 6-1 and recorded top times at the combine in the 3-cone, short shuttle, and long shuttle. No scout is going to construct a guy like Sorensen as their ideal safety, but there are some intriguing skills here to work with athletically and physically.

There are three things Sorensen has going for him in terms of his chances to make the roster:

1. Special Teams

Sorensen is noted for his ability to be a very good special teams player. Kansas City puts extra emphasis on special teams, mores0 than other teams, so their desire to have top flight special team players may be more intense than other teams.

Here’s Vanquish the Foe, a BYU fan blog, on Sorensen as a special teams player in the NFL.

As a leader of the Cougar defense, he not only excelled on the defensive side of the ball, but he made a name for himself on special teams.  …  It isn’t to much of a stretch to imagine him earning a position on the special teams squad and finding himself in a position to make a name for himself.

2. A Clear Roster Path

Finding role for Sorensen on special teams shouldn’t be too difficult. Finding a spot for him on defense is the bigger question. Fortunately for Sorensen there appears to be a pathway towards making the 53-man roster at the end of August.

As things stand now – and it is May, so a ton can change – there are three locks at safety: Eric Berry, Sanders Commings, and Husain Abdullah. Add to that mix a set of locks at cornerback: Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Marcus Cooper, Phillip Gaines, and Chris Owens. That’s eight players in the secondary we can pretty much count on making the 53-man.

Kansas City is a team that likes to use a ton of defensive backs. Bob Sutton went to a 2-3-6 formation – a formation that features six defensive backs – almost exclusively in the Chiefs’ loss to Indianapolis in the playoffs. Part of the Chiefs’ issue in that game was injuries, but another significant issue was the lack of depth the Chiefs had in the secondary. One cannot expect to have Dunta Robinson out there every down and expect good things.

Because of the need for depth and the way Sutton uses defensive backs, carrying 10 or 11 defensive backs on the initial 53-man roster is not out of the question. So with eight expected roster locks that means there are two or three spots available for Sorensen to win. After Ron Parker, who else can the Chiefs look at right now on their roster and say he’s definitely better than Sorensen?

3. Quickness

Sorensen does not have the 40 speed many would like to see out of a defensive back, but he showed at the NFL Combine that he does have some lateral quickness to him. As mentioned earlier, Sorensen finished in the top five in the 3-cone drill and the short and long shuttle. His 3-cone drill was an outstanding 6.47, a full half-second below the 7-second mark scouts like to see defensive backs break.

Sorensen isn’t going to be able to run with a speed receiver 30 or 40 yards downfield in man coverage. That’s where his 40 time hurts him. What he can do is accelerate quickly to close gaps between himself and the receiver. This is a significant trait when you consider what the Seattle Seahawks did to stop Peyton Manning. In the Super Bowl, Seattle let Manning make his quick throws but they always had a guy there immediately to make the tackle. Reducing the yards after catch forced Denver into situations that favored Seattle and their pass rush.

No, Sorensen isn’t Earl Thomas, but he has traits that can be useful to the Chiefs in a reserve role. Getting to the ball quickly and then making a play is something that sounds so simple but it is something the Chiefs didn’t have much of in their secondary. Kendrick Lewis, Dunta Robinson, and Quintin Demps all either lacked the quickness to get to the ball, the ability to make the tackle, or both.  If you want to stop the crossing routes then, among other things, you’ll need defensive backs who can close the gap quickly and make the tackle. That is something Sorensen has demonstrated he can do in college.

Should Sorensen prove his abilities on defense are passable and he dominates on special teams, one would have to think he has a great shot at making the team.

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  • berttheclock

    One reason special team play is so important to the low rent guys is it can help them make the cut over another player who only helps the team at one position. Jon Gruden spoke how this was the decision maker for low rent guys. If Sorenson can help both at ST and a backup safety, he has as very good shot.

    One other thing about this player. In high school, he was All League as a punter.

    • Blaize Richardson

      You know I’ve never understood why some NFL teams don’t have a player handle punting duties or have the kicker handle both duties. I mean if there’s 32 punters, that means one of them has to be the 32nd best punter in the NFL. If your an NFL team where rosters spot are sparse, why wouldn’t you want to create an extra one by getting rid of your punter?

      Sorry for the rant. I know that was off-topic… Going on topic, I like Sorenen’s chances as well. Special Teams is a very underrated part of professional football. The more guys that can be studs on that side of the football the better. His three cone, short and long shuttle skills should translate pretty well on special teams. He has the skills to be a contributor of this football team. I really hope it works out for him. Would be nice to get a solid contributor on such a cheap contract.

      • Chris Tarrants

        Good idea in theory but how many games did Colquitt change last year with his phenomenal punts? Several come to mind, having the ability to pin offenses back inside their own 10 means the world to helping your defense. Now if your punter is a scrub and you know it then I get what you mean.

        • Blaize Richardson

          No don’t get me wrong. I love Colquitt. We don’t start the season 9-0 without him. He’s the highest paid player in the league at his position and he still might be underpaid. What I was ranting about was the teams that aren’t lucky enough to have a Dustin Colquitt on their team.

          • KCMikeG

            You make an excellent point and clearly not to disparage our kickers. I’ll do that in a minute. Roster spots are precious. If you could find a K/P combo player and please help me understand why a Long Snapper position is taking up a spot, you could carry another OL and WR instead. You can’t tell me a center who snaps shot gun all his career can’t be a LS too. I was hopeful when we brought in a K/P to camp last year but we just spent quite a bit on both of our kickers. Cario Santos has punted in addition to KO & FG responsibilities so that would be a plus. Succop’s struggles from 40+ has cost us games so I’m glad they are bringing in some competition.

          • sdakchiefsfan

            So what happens if the kicker gets injured. Most punters/kickers can do both, but you want one to excel at their craft. Just because a guy plays on the line doesn’t mean he can play both defense and offense at a high level

          • KCMikeG

            While it is extremely rare for a kicker to be injured if it did happen a free agent would be signed. Not sure what you are referring to about the OL/DL comment as I didn’t mention that but players do switch sides of the ball and still play at a high level. It is more common in HS or college as there is much more of a specialist approach at the pro level. Many college QB’s move to WR or DB to be able to play in the NFL. Our own Tamba Hali went from a down DE to an OLB. Deion Sanders played both defense & offense as has Julian Edelman in NE and the Eagles first round draft pick Marcus Smith went from QB to SAM to DE to OLB.
            Here’s an article discussing position changes for some of the top draft picks this year including our Dee Ford & DAT:

  • Daniel Mayfield

    He can be very useful if he can tackle good. If he lacks in tackles, that won’t help much. Though, it will slow a receiver down while he’s trying to tackle so a teammate can give him some help. With quickness and ability to be a “play maker”, I think he will make the roster.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Van Dyke’s going to be an interesting part of the safety fold as well. He has the measurables you mentioned.

    • KCMikeG

      Dorsey mentioned him as a challenger in an interview when the interviewer said that DAT would be the fastest on the team. He ran a 4.28 at the 2011 Combine! If nothing else we have gotten a lot faster on defense.

  • Joseph Simmons

    Sorenson was incredibly productive at BYU. Not sure what the author meant by “he wasn’t very productive at BYU”. He literally was BYU’s secondary. He covered everything – made plays all over the field. He batted down many passes and made lots of big, well timed hits to prevent catches once the dbs were beat. In fact, he did this so frequently that you couldn’t help but notice. His 3-cone and shuttle times were top 2 or 3 all time at the combine in the last 15 years, for any position. This was very evident if you watched him play at BYU. He would close so fast, take great angles, etc. The only thing he doesn’t have is straight line speed (4.67). He is otherwise very athletic, great tackler, hard hitter and has a knack for being in spots to make plays. I really hope he makes the team!

    • Ben Nielsen

      Good stuff, thanks Joseph.

  • Yootahman

    this article wasn’t very well researched. Sorenson was a very productive safety at BYU and finished his career with 211 tackles, 8 picks (including a pick 6) and 31 passes defended (including 14 last season). The guy had to work extra hard last year covering sideline to sideline because BYU lost their top 3 corners before the season even started and was starting walk-ons and converted safeties at corner so opposing teams tested them a lot. He’s a huge reason BYU’s pass defense finished in the top 20 in the NCAA last year despite the patchwork secondary.