2020 NFL Draft: Mel Kiper mocks first round cornerback to Chiefs
By Matt Conner
Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN’s draft analyst, has the Kansas City Chiefs grabbing a cornerback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
With Super Bowl LIV in the books and all eyes of football fans now focused on the postseason, ESPN’s NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. has released his first mock of the season looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft. For the Chiefs, the position is familiar even as the player is a brand new name we’ve not yet heard projected to the team.
The Kansas City Chiefs will be selecting last in the first round given their place as Super Bowl champions, which means they’re likely to see most of their favorite impact players taken well before they’re able to pick. That said, the Chiefs are grabbing some cornerback help at the bottom of the first, per Kiper.
In this mock draft, Kiper has the Chiefs taking Auburn corner Noah Igbinoghene, an athletic marvel still growing into the position. Kiper admits that he also considered cornerback Kristian Fulton of LSU at this same spot, who is a familiar name to Chiefs fans watching mock drafts, as well as running back J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State, which would be a bit of a luxury pick for a Chiefs offense that’s already so productive. In the end, he went with Igbinoghene.
"Igbinoghene, a former wide receiver and track star at Auburn whose parents were both Olympic athletes, is another late-season riser, and he could light up the combine. He’s still raw, but he has big-time upside, and I was really impressed by his improvement this season"
Igbinoghene is a solid corner at 5’11, 200 lbs. who decided to forgo his senior season with the Tigers. It’s an interesting move considering he is still learning the position after arriving at Auburn as a wide receiver. The fact that he could still be a first-round prospect, however, is a testament to his development to date and overall skill set.
This past season, Igbinoghene had 42 total tackles and 7 passes defended, but he only had a single interception in his two years as a starter. The lack of experience as a ballhawk could work against him in terms of the draft, but a strong pre-draft season could overwhelm those questions with projection.
On the plus side, Igbinoghene is also a stellar returner with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in his college career.
For the Chiefs, the selection of Igbinoghene would provide them with a high-ceiling corner under team control through 2023 with a fifth year option as a first-round selection. Given that only Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton are under contract, Igbinoghene could be an instant starter on the outside opposite Ward, giving the Chiefs a young tandem to develop on what is now a Super Bowl caliber defense.
In addition, Igbinoghene could also be a return candidate on kickoffs giving Mecole Hardman the chance to focus solely on offense in his second season the way that Tyreek Hill was able in his sophomore year. The jump in offensive impact from year one to year two for Hill was significant and the potential for Hardman here should not be overlooked.