Could the Cornerback position be the Kansas City Chiefs’ Achilles heel?

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 26: Wide receiver Zay Jones #11 of the Buffalo Bills narrowly misses a pass in the end zone in front of the coverage of cornerback Steven Nelson #20 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. ( Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images )
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 26: Wide receiver Zay Jones #11 of the Buffalo Bills narrowly misses a pass in the end zone in front of the coverage of cornerback Steven Nelson #20 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. ( Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images ) /
ArmchairAddict1 /

Thanks to Patrick Mahomes there is a ton of excitement for the Kansas City Chiefs this season but could the cornerback position be what holds them back?

It is an exciting time to be a Kansas City Chiefs fan. The anticipation for first year starter Patrick Mahomes is through the roof, and almost every Chiefs fan I know can’t wait for the coming season. In addition to the Mahomes excitement, the entire offense looks loaded with talented playmakers.

The defense is where there are more questions. The Chiefs beefed up their run defense with the additions of Anthony Hitchens, Xavier Williams, and Derrick Nnadi. They have four outside linebackers that Chiefs fans will be keeping an eye on in Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Breeland Speaks, and Tanoh Kpassagnon. At safety they will get all pro Eric Berry back from injury. The one position (at least on paper) that looks like they may be short on talent is cornerback.

In today’s pass happy NFL, a defense MUST have two key components. The first is a pass rush to make sure opposing quarterbacks don’t have all day to find an open target. It remains to be seen how good the Chiefs will be in this department but they do at least have multiple guys that they have invested in to contribute to the pass rush. Justin Houston is one of the highest paid defenders in the NFL, Dee Ford is a former first round pick playing for a new deal, and Chris Jones, Breeland Speaks, and Tanoh Kpassagnon are all second round picks that the Chiefs are relying on to help get after the quarterback.

The second thing every defense needs in today’s pass happy NFL is multiple guys that can cover receivers. This is where the Chiefs simply haven’t invested much at all in one of the key areas of a defense. Yes, they added Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade and he is definitely the most talented corner on this roster. At worst, he’s one of the NFL’s best nickel corners and at best he may be one of the best up-and-coming all around corners in the NFL (time will tell if he can be as good on the outside).

The only other real investment they have at corner is Steven Nelson who is a former third round pick. The rest of their cornerback depth consists of a rookie 6th round draft pick, a bunch of undrafted free agents, and players that the Chiefs picked up off the scrap heap after they were released by their previous teams.

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You have to figure that in today’s NFL, a typical team is going to have at least four corners get regular playing time on defense. The Chiefs currently have Fuller, Nelson, David Amerson (who’ll we’ll discuss in a moment), and a bunch of young and completely unproven guys.

Look, I’m as optimistic as anyone. Is there upside in guys like Tremon Smith, Arrion Springs, Will Redmond, and Keith Reaser? Sure there is and I’m excited to see if any of them can step up and contribute to this team once camp starts. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Chiefs are taking a huge gamble in relying on one or more of those guys to hit.

If a team has guys like that on the roster you typically want them to be competing for the bottom of the roster spots where they can develop without having to be put in high pressure spots right away, but if the Chiefs don’t add any more corners then they are going to HAVE to have at least one of those guys play some serious minutes THIS season. That’s a big gamble for one of the most important positions on a defense.

The other problem is that saying at least one of those young guys is going to have to contribute this season is assuming that David Amerson is good enough to warrant being on the field. On paper, Amerson has all the physical tools that you would want in a starting outside press man corner. He showed some upside for Oakland in 2015 and 2016, but he was flat out awful last season. If K.C.’s attempt to revitalize his career fails, then suddenly you’re going to need two of those young and unproven guys to step up and contribute this season. That’s also assuming that both Kendall Fuller AND Steven Nelson stay healthy all season.

There simply isn’t another position on the Chiefs roster where the Chiefs are gambling this big. Could the gamble pay off? Sure it could. Fuller could be an absolute stud. Nelson and Amerson could prove to be solid starting caliber corners. Will Redmond and/or Keith Reaser could finally stay 100% healthy and live up to the upside they showed coming out of college. Young guys like Tremon Smith and Arrion Springs could prove that they’re ready to see the field in their first NFL season. If that all happens then suddenly K.C.’s cornerback worries turn into a surplus of talent. That would be fantastic and I’m certainly pulling for that to be the case.


Imagine this scenario. Let’s say Fuller goes down with an injury at some point, Amerson is just as bad as he was for Oakland last season, and all of K.C.’s young corners prove to still be a year or two away from being ready to play. That’s terrifying to think about.

I don’t care how improved the run defense is. I don’t care how improved the pass rush is. I don’t care how much Eric Berry’s return means to this defense. If you’re getting garbage play at cornerback, the Tom Brady’s of the NFL are going to absolutely destroy you, and then suddenly your first year starting quarterback has to score 40+ points per game to give the team a shot to win.

We saw Patrick Mahomes have to deal with that exact situation at Texas Tech and the results (from a win/loss perspective) weren’t very good.

That’s why, as excited as I am about seeing Mahomes as the starting quarterback in training camp and the preseason, the position I will be watching closest is the cornerback position. The Chiefs are currently showing a lot of faith in guys that simply haven’t proven themselves yet in the NFL, and I want to see for myself if that faith is warranted. If it isn’t, they better go out and find themselves another corner even if it means trading away an asset like a draft pick or a solid player at another position. Cornerback is simply too important to ignore if you want to be a serious contender in the NFL.

Next: The ongoing effects of Eric Berry's contract

So what do you think Chiefs fans? Are you worried about the cornerback depth? Do you share the Chiefs faith that several of these guys are going to step up and contribute? Do you think they need to go out and add another corner before training camp even starts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!