Chiefs draft 2017: Leon McQuay seems ready-made for the NFL


Kansas City Chiefs DB Leon McQuay is the sort of NFL prospect who enters the league more ready than most.

Most draft picks face a steep learning curve to the pros as they adjust both mentally and physically. It’s not just the size, speed and skill, although that’s certainly a part of it. Each player also must learn the new offense, new opponents, new defenses, new levels of deception and mind games against masters of technique. For Leon McQuay III, the learning curve might not be as steep as the rest of his draft class with the Kansas City Chiefs.

General manager John Dorsey selected McQuay in the sixth round in the 2017 NFL Draft, a hybrid defensive back who can play high safety or slot corner. According to defensive assistant coach Brett Arce, who works exclusively with defensive backs like McQuay and Adoree Jackson, McQuay can play all over the place, which should suit a defensive coordinator like Bob Sutton well.

“I think one of [McQuay’s] big things is his versatility,” says Arce. “He did a lot for us defensively, where he played a nickel position where he was more down in the box run defender and he also played high for us like he did in the Rose Bowl where he got the game-winning pick.

“He’s really athletic. We used him a lot from the nickel or safety position by blitzing him or doing different things. I think that will be good for the Chiefs since they’ll be able to utilize him in a lot of different ways. He also matches up well on tight ends, since he’s a big, long guy who is strong and can run. Athletically, I think he’s what you want.”

The Chiefs scouts were also quick to praise McQuay’s intelligence after the draft, noting how quick he is to assess what’s happening on the field. Arce backed up that notion by showing exactly how McQuay would help his settle his teammates into position.

“He is a smart guy,” says Arce. “He’s a guy who spent a lot of time watching extra film. He lived in the playbook and was one of the leaders on our defense. Guys would go to him with questions about the defense or different looks he might have seen, whether on film or in practice. He was so good at communicating with the other guys. That’s a strong suit.

“Where he really excelled was knowing by formation or receiver alignments what he was going to see, which helped him play even faster. He’s already an athletic guy, but recognizing offensive formations and personnel, I think he’s good at it and it helped him tremendously.”

McQuay had 50 total tackles, four of them for a loss, in 2016 with 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended and 1 sack.