The Kansas City Chiefs secondary continues to change once again and we have yet to even his free agency.
The Kansas City Chiefs and general manager Brett Veach continue to be aggressive in making moves at the beginning of this offseason. The secondary, an area for the Chiefs that really struggled in 2017, will feature an entirely different group of players in 2018, and we haven’t even made it to free agency.
It all started with the trading of starting quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins in return for a young cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick in the 2018 draft. Then there was the release of cornerback Darrelle Revis who was brought in midseason in 2017 followed by the signing of Oakland cornerback David Amerson. Then you have the news that came out on Friday afternoon about the Chiefs trading away star cornerback Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams.
It seemed the Chiefs were moving in the right direction by adding solid depth to their secondary for 2018 and had potential to be one of the best units in the league on paper. The trading of Peters really set that back in many ways considering all of the new players coming in. It’s likely that cornerback Steven Nelson will be the only remaining part of the 2017 group going into next year.
Without knowing what the Chiefs plan to do going forward with the rest of the offseason, we can only assume that their plan is for Fuller to step up big and take over Peters spot in the defense—a player that had a breakout year in 2017 but did it from the slot cornerback position. The former Redskin was ranked the top slot cornerback in the league by Pro Football Focus.
There is nothing saying that Fuller can’t make the transition to the outside role but we have very little to look at of him playing that position in the NFL. When looking at the film from Fuller in his 2017 season, you can see similarities in his playstyle to that of Peters. Even with those similarities, Peters’ shadow will be a hard one to fill for the young corner.
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Fuller played mostly off-man coverage in Washington, much like the Chiefs liked to play Peters. His recognition and awareness during plays give him the ability to predict and jump routes to attack the ball at the catch point. Fuller is not afraid to play physical and initiate contact to make a play on the ball at the catch point. His quick closing speed in these situations make him even better at it leading a quarterback to think his man has enough room, when in actuality Fuller is just letting him believe that so he can make a play.
In his 2017 season, Fuller finished with 10 pass deflections, 4 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. He ranked 6th in all cornerbacks with a grade of 90 overall according to Pro Football Focus.
All of these characteristics made Chiefs fans ecstatic to hear when they were under the impression that Fuller would be opposite of Peters. Instead, Fuller is going from a secondary that was loaded in depth to almost an entirely restructured secondary and filling the role of arguably the best cornerback in football all while learning a new scheme. After one breakout season in 2017, Fuller has a much larger role to fulfill in his new defense.