Kansas City Chiefs secondary ranks among NFL’s worst, per Pro Football Focus

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill /

If you’re one of several Kansas City Chiefs fans worried about the secondary, just know you’re not alone in your concerns for the suspect group.

Entering an NFL season, it’s hard to remember a year in which the Kansas City Chiefs secondary seemed as suspect as it does in 2018. That’s not to say that there’s not a lot of talent or that they will fail miserably once the season begins. Rather there are just so many questions that it’s hard to imagine everything going right.

In fact, the Chiefs tried that last year with a rotating group of players who, in limited sample sizes, had shown promise at cornerback. With Marcus Peters on one side, the Chiefs employed a group that included Terrance Mitchell, Kenny Acker, Darrelle Revis, Phillip Gaines and Steven Nelson on the outside. The results ranged from below average to outright pathetic. It’s also not an accident that only Nelson remains on the roster one year later.

Heading into the 2018 season, the sheer amount of uncertainty is not lost on the folks at Pro Football Focus who have listed the Chiefs secondary among the very worst in the NFL at No. 28 overall. Only the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a worse secondary, but even those units have some promising players or young defensive backs who could show lockdown potential. In short, it’s possible the Chiefs could be worse as the season goes on.

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The return of safety Eric Berry should be a huge boost to the entire unit, but even Berry is now coming off of his third season-ending injury. That’s a lot of comebacks for any player, even one as tremendously talented as Eric Berry. There’s good reason to believe, for certain, that he can return, but it’s also important to acknowledge that even the team’s best defender has a cloud of uncertainty around him to a degree.

From there, the unit has sustained myriad changes. Ron Parker has been released and the longtime starter at free safety will be replaced by either the inconsistent play of Eric Murray or fourth round rookie Armani Watts. The sheer amount of changes at cornerback are another reason to question the entire unit. Kendall Fuller is the anchor here, brought over in the Alex Smith trade, but he’s expected to remain inside.

After the Marcus Peters trade, there’s not a single sure thing on the outside in a passing league. David Amerson is a hopeful bounce-back candidate and Steven Nelson showed promise near season’s end. The Chiefs are placing significant hope in both. Decent minutes will also be required from complete unknowns including sixth round choice Tremon Smith and journeymen like Will Redmond and Keith Reaser. Last year’s sixth round rookie Leon McQuay is also available, as is undrafted free agent Arrion Springs.

The upside here could be good. Fuller broke out last year in a major way. Nelson looked solid. Amerson has played very well in the past when under significant pressure. General manager Brett Veach has spoke very highly of both Reaser and Redmond. Smith was a real playmaker against inferior competition. Armani Watts is a draft sleeper who could start from the outset. Robert Golden is a solid veteran acquisition in the secondary who should excel on special teams.

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But most teams have a lot more proven talent to work with in the secondary than the Chiefs with the ability to feel a lot more secure in their team’s pass defense. Here’s hoping the Chiefs prove everyone wrong, including PFF, with a year that defies any and all defensive expectations.