KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame
Russell is a hard worker that makes his living on anticipating routes and relying on his speed to recover. He’s not the typical Chiefs’ corner when you think about who the Chiefs were putting on the field when Andy Reid first took over in 2013. At only 5’11”, Russell isn’t the big, physical corner that we thought the Chiefs wanted those first few seasons of this regime. Instead, he’s fast and very observant in zone coverage, allowing him to cover massive amounts of space.
Many expect Russell to step in to Phillip Gaines’ role and work in the slot but with his strengths, I see Russell in a slightly different role. The loss of Husain Abdullah left a gaping coverage hole and the safety position. Both Ron Parker and Eric Berry are excellent at tackling and taking deep halves in a cover two situation, but Berry tends to struggle when asked to cover someone up on the line and Parker doesn’t have the speed. Russell can take Abdullah’s role and make the Chiefs even scarier on the defensive side of the ball.
Russell’s anticipation and intelligence would make him a better NFL safety than a starter on the outside. The Chiefs could use him as just a general defensive back that can line up anywhere they need. I don’t see him as the starter to replace Sean Smith but as the 3rd or 4th defensive back who can switch easily between safety and corner.
Parker Ehinger, OL, Cincinnati
Ehinger has the size to be one of the best offensive linemen in this draft class. His issue lies in his lack of quickness and strength off the snap. The experience along almost the entire offensive line while he was at Cincinnati is what attracted him to the Chiefs, who love to plug and play their big guys in a variety of ways.
Ehinger will most likely step in at guard but he could also provide depth at both tackle positions. He spent his senior year at left tackle for the Bearcats while the team enjoyed one of its most productive years on the offensive side of the ball.
Ehinger will need a lot of work to be able to unseat the projected starters at guard in Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. His main focus should be in maintaining one-on-one blocks and driving off the ball in the run game. With all the shuffling this past season for the Chiefs it is perfectly reasonable that either due to injury or poor play, we will see this big guy step in and play this next season. But for now his sits firmly at the next man up for both tackle and guard.
Next: Rest of fourth round...