The next step forward for the Kansas City Chiefs needs to be taken by players with little to no NFL experience. The Chiefs defensive backfield will be something to keep an eye on throughout training camp. With the choices they had to make in free agency, corner is now a big question mark opposite of Marcus Peters. The back end of the secondary looks to remain intact as far as the starters are concerned but the reserves will be questions heading into the season as well.
At corner the Chiefs have a young set of players that haven’t played enough or at all. Philip Gaines and Stephen Nelson headline the stable of young corners on the Chiefs roster not named Marcus Peters. Gaines looks to be the starter at this point but injury questions make that questionable. Nelson has talent but is better suited for the nickel corner role. Both Jamell Fleming and Marcus Cooper are moving to safety this season so that leaves the Chiefs with very little depth with any kind of experience.
Kansas City made sure to address the position in the draft adding three players that look to compete throughout mini-camp and training camp for a chance to start and play on Sundays. DJ White has drawn rave reviews throughout rookie camp and OTA’s for his ability and looks like he could be a steal if he can continue to impress moving forward. White has the size you would like on the outside but will definitely have growing pains if asked to play regularly this season.
Keivarae Russell looks promising when watching film from college. He is coming off a major injury but he looks to play a major role in the competition throughout the rest of the summer. Like White, he will have growing pains if he is asked to start immediately but he may be the best rookie to have a chance to start day one of the season.
Eric Murray is an intriguing player as well. He has the ability to play both corner and safety and has lined up in both positions from what is being reported. Kansas City has to hope that one of the rookies shows that he is ready to step up and play on Sundays this fall.
While I think the loss of Sean Smith will be felt this season, I think the biggest loss to the secondary is losing Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch. Both safeties gave the Chiefs options on the back end of their defense that just won’t be there this season. Abdullah played a lot of the linebacker safety hybrid role and thrived in the middle of the defense.
I don’t know if KC has a player currently that can step into that role and be successful which may mean the Chiefs try to play in their base defense even more. This could really take a bigger step towards reality if Justin March or Ramik Wilson can take the starting job away from Josh Mauga.
Kansas City has a history of picking up safeties that most teams don’t want and being successful with them so there is a possibility they see Stevie Brown as that type of player. Daniel Sorensen is a great special teamer but has always seemed a little slow to be playing the back end of the defense. Reclamation projects with Fleming and Cooper could also pay dividends for Kansas City if either of them can show the ability to play with more space.
Kansas City’s back end will look very different throughout the season this year regardless of who ends up starting. The Chiefs like to rotate their players in the secondary depending on what the offense is doing and the depth they have currently doesn’t look conducive to that. Training camp and the preseason will give fans a chance to see all of the young guys play and we will get an idea of how good the secondary unit could be.