Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu had high praise for Juan Thornhill on a recent podcast.
When the Kansas City Chiefs decided to remake the entire safety position last offseason, no one could have expected just how successfully the transition would be for not only the coaching staff but the players involved as well. The Chiefs not only signed free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu away from the Houston Texans but they also decided to invest a second-round pick in Virginia’s Juan Thornhill. Together, the pairing gave the team a new set of starters turn around their defensive woes in the secondary.
One year later, Mathieu is earning rave reviews as one of the league’s top defensive backs after an All-Pro season for a Super Bowl champion. As for Thornhill, he also earned plenty of praise for his turn as an immediate starter for the Chiefs in the free safety slot. In 16 starts, Thornhill had 58 total tackles, 5 passes defended, and 3 interceptions for the Chiefs.
While Mathieu has reached a place of prominence in the league, the star safety also says the best is yet to come for his fellow defensive back. During a recent interview on a podcast from Pro Football Focus, featuring hosts Mike Renner and Austin Gayle, Mathieu talked about a number of subjects from the value of the safety position to preparing to play in the shadow of COVID-19. However, he was also asked about Thornhill’s health and development and Mathieu had only good things to say.
Thornhill unfortunately tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season, but Mathieu said he’s expected to be “fully recovered.”
"“First and foremost, I expect him to be fully recovered from the knee injury. I’ve been fortunate to go through that twice, so he has somebody in the room that he can lean on and he can be confident about coming back out there.”"
Mathieu also said that Thornhill stepped into a big role on the defense very quickly as a day one starter. Fortunately he was up for the challenge and grew as the season wore on. Mathieu had a lot of praise for Thornhill’s development.
"“I felt like we put a lot on him as a rookie, y’know, in terms of communicating, in terms of playing off of me, understanding when to do certain things. I feel like he progressed really well as the season went along. People were really able to see his playmaking ability. He’s a rangy kid. He can run the alley. He can make tough tackles. He can communicate really well.“So I’m looking forward to him coming and really embracing that and he’s extra motivated because he wasn’t a part of that playoff run with us, so he’s going to have that taste in his mouth. It’s going to be good to see him develop into that star-like safety position where he’s one of the guys out there you’re watching to make big plays.”"
You can listen to the complete interview with Mathieu below while also hearing lots of great information about next year’s safety class.