The Kansas City Chiefs have added a plethora of young, athletic players to their secondary through many avenues this offseason. While the athleticism and speed are much improved from last year, will the youthful inexperience wreak havoc on this group instead of them wreaking havoc on opposing offenses? I want to pose a question and ask if this Chiefs secondary can end up as a top 10 unit in the NFL.
The good news is that there are a lot of positives here—from the speed to the hard hits to the versatility. There’s L’Jarius Sneed and bound to be fewer “business decisions.” The Chiefs’ secondary had talent last year, but at times, they looked absolutely lost and/or lacked that fire.
Part of that came directly from the safeties. Tyrann Mathieu didn’t show the same passion on some plays with more hands in the air than at a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert. While there is no denying how great his first two seasons were with the Chiefs, last year didn’t carry that same impact. Dan Sorensen has made some of the biggest plays in Chiefs history but he clearly looked like he lost a step or two, and it was noticeable. He was getting picked on by opposing offenses like a big brother picking on a little brother except mom wasn’t there to stop it. Spags was adamant on sitting Juan Thornhill until even he saw enough and Thornhill got a shot. There was an immediate improvement, although admittedly not as much as one would hope.
The Kansas City Chiefs have gone younger and more athletic in the secondary. Can they become a top ten unit in the NFL in 2022?
A fully healthy and confident Thornhill is an improvement for ’22. The signing of Justin Reid, a hard-hitter who will stick his nose in there is another. The versatility of Bryan Cook is yet another improvement on the overall group. Having the speed back there to make up for a lost step should be a massive step forward. The biggest issue I had with the safeties last year wasn’t the fact they didn’t know where to be; they just couldn’t get there. That is going to change a lot.
The Chiefs also invested a first-round pick in Trent McDuffie who comes from a college (Washington) that has proven the ability to develop starting corners. While corner can be one of the toughest positions to consistently hit on, the Chiefs have done it while also developing late-round talent. I can only imagine what they can do with a first-round selection.
I am also high on fourth-rounder Joshua Williams. He could potentially take his lumps this season, but he is a big-bodied corner who looks the part of taking over for Charvarius Ward in the future. When effective players like Rashad Fenton aren’t immediately a slam dunk for making the roster, you have a good secondary. Oh yeah, L’Jarius Sneed is here, too.
Now on to the negatives. There’s the loss of an extremely solid corner in Charvarius Ward and the loss of leadership in Tyrann Mathieu (and to an extent with Sorensen). Youth and inexperience can be problematic as well. Not having the easiest scheme to pick up coupled with the early season struggles of the defense over the past few seasons doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
I actually believe the talent is there in the secondary to be a top 10 unit. I truly think the athleticism and willingness to tackle will be more of a boost than the losses of experience. What I think actually holds this unit back, numbers wise at least, is the lack of pass rush. The lack of a consistent pass rush is going to make rookies as well as players new in a system have to hang with their man, or zone, longer. Pass rush can make bad secondaries look solid while the opposite can be true as well. The talent is here in the secondary for a top 10 unit, but can the Chiefs overcome the lack of pressure?