Terrance Mitchell is playing better than you think

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Defensive back Terrance Mitchell
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Defensive back Terrance Mitchell /

One of the biggest needs in many fans eyes this offseason was a new cornerback. It’s almost like they forgot about Terrance Mitchell.

Leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, fans were expressing their deep concerns about the cornerback position and hoping the Kansas City Chiefs would pick one up in the draft, if they weren’t going to sign one on the open market. While there was a high volume to choose from, the Chiefs decided not to. I think they made the right decision.

I didn’t understand the panic of the cornerback position when cornerback Terrance Mitchell came in down the stretch and played lights out football. On top of that, you still have All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters and cornerback Steven Nelson. I still have yet to see the reasoning for wanting another cornerback so early in the draft when you have those three guys.

The only thing that I could think of was that fans were doing the normal thing of comparing Mitchell to Peters which is just unfair. Look, Peters is a very rare talent.  It’s very rare to find that kind of corner ever, let alone in one single draft.

With Nelson on Injured Reserve, Mitchell had to step into the number two cornerback position after not playing all preseason due to his own injury. While he was one of the most picked on cornerbacks in the league last year down the stretch, teams continue to target him this year as well. Especially if you hadn’t played all preseason.

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While I would agree that Mitchell had some struggles in that first game against the New England Patriots, I don’t think it was as bad as you remember. If you only watched it once, then you probably think he had a terrible game. I thought it was a rough one after watching the game but when I went back and looked at the all 22 film, it wasn’t a terrible game.

The penalties are what I remembered the most from that game. Mitchell tagged on 4 penalties that added up to 46 yards. There were a couple ones that were bad but also one that I don’t think was a penalty at all and was just a bad call. Nonetheless, Mitchell was going up against one of the fastest receivers in the league in Brandon Cooks most of the night.

On 11 targets, not including the penalty plays that would have made it 15 targets, Mitchell gave up 4 passes for 96 yards. Most of those yards came on a couple deep shots down the field. While that’s more yards than you want to give up, you have to realize that only 4 out of 11 made it to the receiver. That’s a good game in my book.

Until the game against the Washington Redskins in week 4, teams were targeting him average 10 times per game. That’s insane. I don’t care who you are if you are getting targeted that many times per game, you’re going to give up a decent amount of yards. That goes for cornerbacks like Richard Sherman, Marcus Peters, you name it.

While Mitchell wasn’t quite back to his late 2016 play right away, I think he is back there now. Against the Redskins, he was only targeted 5 times and only gave up 2 for 17. Those were also both in the first quarter so he didn’t give up a single completion the last three-quarters of the game.

While many fans are still panicking on social media about the secondary, I’m pretty comfortable with the guys we have. Especially once Nelson comes back and gets a couple games under his belt, I think we have a really good trio of cornerbacks. In no way, shape or form do I think that we need to trade for a cornerback especially at this point in the season.

In fact, in some stats, Mitchell has already played better in the first four games of the season than he did last year in his seven games down the stretch. In four games, Mitchell has acquired two interceptions and eight passes defended. In 2016, Mitchell has six passes defended and zero interceptions.

Mitchell is absolutely phenomenal when it comes to not only getting his hands in there to knock the ball away but also hitting a receiver or the ball as they catch the ball forcing them to drop it. His timing on his hits is almost always perfect.

This is one of my favorite by Mitchell where he times the hit perfectly on tight end Vernon Davis and forcing the dropped pass. The hit couldn’t have been timed any better.

We all know about Peters baiting quarterbacks to make a throw making them look open. He also can catch up once the throw is made and get to the catch point. This is another perfectly timed play by Mitchell who is able to get his hand in there to knock the ball away from the receiver.

Mitchell is also doing all of this against good teams. Say what you want about the Los Angeles Chargers, but I have a lot of respect for Philip Rivers. Other than that game though, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles, and Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins. These are good quarterbacks.

Not only is he playing against top quarterbacks, but he is also playing against a lot of number one receivers. Most teams are avoiding Peters and putting their number one receivers matched up against Mitchell. Guys like Keenan Allen, Brandon Cooks, and Alshon Jeffery all spent most of their time opposite of Mitchell.

To be honest, I would hate to be the receiver having to go up against Mitchell every down. Mitchell is an extremely physical corner and is always lined up at the line of scrimmage ready to hit you the second the ball is snapped and then right there with you the rest of the play. He always makes an attack on the ball and even if the receiver is able to get a hand on the ball, many times it’s knocked right out of his hands.

I think that fans are letting the couple big plays against Mitchell stick in their mind and forgetting about all the good plays that he’s made. While he had some mistakes in week one, I think he has progressively gotten better with each week.