NFL Draft prospect Jeff Gladney would add remarkable athleticism to Chiefs defense
Jeff Gladney’s fit in Spagnuolo’s defense
One of the most underrated cornerbacks in this stacked group is TCU senior Jeff Gladney. Standing at 6-0, 185 pounds, the four-year starter is a remarkable athlete with an excellent understanding of the position. His versatility to play man and zone will bring him early success in the NFL. The former Horned Frog plays with a physical mentality, confidence, and swagger.
Attitude isn’t the only reason that Gladney fits the Chiefs defense. He is also capable of playing anywhere in the secondary—in the slot, or on either boundary, he has experience traveling with other teams’ top receivers. While he likely won’t be asked to do that much if he came to Kansas City, it’s good to have players that can line up anywhere.
Gladney’s best traits show up when playing man coverage. Utilizing every bit of the first five yards of contact, he will play aggressively to knock receivers off of their routes. When he’s in a soft press, he has excellent footwork to mirror receivers off the line of scrimmage while staying parallel and over the top of his man. His ability to flip his hips to turn and run vertically is tremendous; staying attached to the hip of his receiver. He’s also very physical down the sideline when playing with inside leverage over the top or staying in stride to squeeze vertical routes to the sideline. That fluidity and quickness in his hips and feet allow him to make sharp breaks while staying in phase.
That’s not to say that Gladney is terrible when playing zone coverages. He plays well in shallow zones reading the quarterback while showing his knowledge for route concepts by abandoning the underneath flat to sink into a deeper zone for outside corner routes. Baiting quarterbacks into making throws into windows they think are open is another specialty of his with his quick-twitch athleticism and acceleration to recover and make a play on the ball.
Whether in zone or man, Gladney has the requisite ball skills. Each year at TCU, his pass breakups increased. He has the awareness to read concepts and look through the receiver to the quarterback to jump routes. He’s also aware of when the hands of the receiver come up to turn his head to locate the football, leverage himself, and make a play on it himself. Working across the middle, he has great anticipation and acceleration to jump in front of routes and play as the receiver.
Kansas City would be adding another aggressive, physical cornerback by selecting Gladney. Adding him would be another confident player on this defense next to Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark.