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.
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
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?
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.