Of all the position groups in 2018, the safety group was probably the most maligned. This was in large part due to injury, with All-Pro Eric Berry listed as day-to-day for virtually the whole season and Armani Watts being relegated to injured reserve following the Jacksonville Jaguars game, but this was also in large part due to inexperience and lack of talent.
The safeties left were Dan Sorensen, Eric Murray, and Jordan Lucas. At one point during the season, in the week leading up to the regular season game against the New England Patriots, the Chiefs were actually practicing Marcus Kemp at safety. Kemp is a wide receiver for the team, so this shows just how desperate the situation had become.
Of all the position groups, this was likely the one in need of the most dramatic makeover. That’s just what Veach and company did. Below is a list of the most promising prospects for this position group. Likely roles is merely a way-too-early prediction of what this unit will look like heading into camp and could look completely different once the season starts.
There are several players to watch from this new and improved position group. I think most fans priority is to see what the newly acquired Tyrann Mathieu can do in Spagnuolo’s system. He is an extremely versatile safety that can play the role of strong safety, free safety, and even slot corner if the need arises. It’s likely this versatility is what ultimately drew Veach and Spagnuolo to Mathieu over players like Landon Collins.
Armani Watts is another player for Chiefs’ fan to keep an eye on. Watts was a fourth round pick in last years draft, and appeared to be settling into a groove early on last season before an injury cut his season short. It seems like his best fit in Spagnuolo’s defense will be backing up Tyrann Mathieu at the strong safety spot.
My personal opinion on most intriguing player to watch is Juan Thornhill. Thornhill is a freak athlete, posting a 4.42 forty-yard dash, a 44-inch vertical, and a 141-inch broad jump at the combine. Those are jaw dropping numbers for a safety. But, Thornhill isn’t just a great athlete. He also had great production while in college.
In particular, his last two seasons for the for Virginia, he played in 25 games, had 109 tackles, 10 interceptions, and 19 passes defensed. On film, he plays as a ballhawk who has no fear when it comes to tackling. Simply put, Thornhill has tremendous potential to become a starter in his first season with the Chiefs.
Similar to the defensive line, of all the position groups, the safety group has the potential to be one of the best in 2019. This group will feature multiple new faces in the starting lineup and some promising backups. I think it’s safe to assume this unit will not be a liability like it was during the 2018 season.
Veach had his hands full this offseason. That seems counterintuitive as the Chiefs were a neutral zone infraction away from a trip to the Super Bowl, which they likely would have won, but surprisingly, this offseason has been one of turnover and turmoil for coaches and position groups alike.
That being said, Veach has done a remarkable job restocking at key positions and remaking position groups all together. Some of the worst positions on the team last year could now be considered among the best. When you consider he had to do that in the midst of a scheme shift, it is truly an impressive feat that merits applause.
The Chiefs have an exciting season in front of them. I was a little nervous for a while, with the departure of numerous key veterans. But I can confidently say, despite some of the unfortunate occurrences as of late, that this Chiefs’ team is better than it was to end the 2018 season. Even so, there is still work to do. There are still several options in free agency on offense and defense that the Chiefs should be looking at. But, fans can rest knowing that the front office has a plan and will remain aggressive.
Given that we came within a hair’s breadth of the organization’s first Super Bowl berth since 1970, the 2019 season should be an exciting one.