How do the Kansas City Chiefs’ safeties compare to the rest of the AFC West for the coming 2022 season?
Welcome to the final installment of the AFC West Defensive Evaluations series. We have already looked at the interior defensive linemen, pass rushers, linebackers, and cornerbacks of each team. Today, we look at safeties.
This has been a completely overhauled position for the Kansas City Chiefs, even as the safety units in the rest of the division didn’t change all that much from last year. The Chiefs watched Tyrann Mathieu leave in free agency along with Armani Watts and Daniel Sorensen, only to replenish the stockpile with Justin Reid in free agency along with Deon Bush. They also drafted Bryan Cook in the second round and Nazee Johnson in the seventh.
Kareem Jackson (SS) —PFF SAF RANK: 84/92
Jackson has had some really, really good years, then some years like 2021. 76 solo tackles, 24 receptions allowed on 32 targets (75% allowed), 1 interception, and 1 sack. He’s likely begun regressing due to age, considering he has been playing since 2010 and is creeping towards 35. I expect 2022 to be his last season.
Justin Simmons (FS) — PFF SAF RANK: 16/92
Justin Simmons has been the most consistently good safety in the AFC West for the longest. In 2021, he recorded 62 solo tackles, 29 receptions allowed on 47 targets (62% allowed), 5 interceptions, and 1 sack. This was about the same as his 2020 season. He should be a steady defensive back for the Broncos for years to come.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Derwin James (SS) — PFF SAF RANK: 9/92
James is the best safety in the AFC West. He’s been consistently good since being drafted in 2019. In 2021, he allowed 76 solo tackles, 35 receptions allowed on 58 targets (60% allowed), 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks. He missed two games due to a shoulder injury, so he likely would have been ranked higher if not for that.
Nasir Adderley (FS) — PFF SAF RANK: 40/92
Adderley is far from the worst safety in the AFC West, but Derwin James puts him to shame. His 2021 stats were: 73 solo tackles, 23 receptions allowed on 34 targets (60% allowed), 1 interception, and 1 sack. He’s been steadily improving since joining the league in 2019 and I expect that trend to continue.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Jonathan Abram (SS) — PFF SAF RANK: 75/92
Abram just isn’t good. He god better between 2020 and 2021, but that isn’t a high bar. His 2021 stats were: 79 solo tackles, 54 receptions allowed on 68 targets (79% allowed), 1 interception, and 1 sack.
Trevon Moehrig (FS) — PFF SAF RANK: 25/92
For a second-rounder, Moehrig was surprising. In his rookie year (2021), he had 39 solo tackles, 9 receptions allowed on 16 targets (56% allowed), and 1 interception. He’s likely to improve this year due to further experience. However, with new coaches, that could be negated.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Juan Thornhill (SS) — PFF SAF RANK: 29/92
Thornhill needed more snaps to show what he’s got in him. That’s exactly what he got last season. In 2021, he put up 51 solo tackles, 15 receptions allowed on 20 targets (75% allowed), 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception. He’s good. He just needs to have the snaps to show it.
Justin Reid (FS) — PFF SAF RANK: 86/92
Reid was very good in 2018 and 2019, which is why many Chiefs fans were excited to welcome him. However, in 2020 and 2021, he regressed. These were last season’s numbers: 47 solo tackles, 13 receptions allowed on 19 targets (68% allowed), 1 forced fumble, and 2 interceptions. Can Spagnuolo revert him back to who he used to be? I sure hope so.
The Best: Chargers
This was to be expected. While Nassir Adderley isn’t the best safety in the game, Derwin James is stupidly good. The Broncos and Raiders are about equal in rating. But the Chiefs just aren’t great back deep. Thornhill is pretty good, but Justin Reid has been regressing in the past few years. I hope Spags can bring him back.
- Chargers (16)
- Raiders (12)
- T- Chiefs (11) / T-Broncos (11)
These rankings should not be surprising. The Chargers have become a dominant force on this side of the ball over the offseason. The Chiefs have a gaping hole at pass rush. Everything else has one really good player and one not-so-good one. The Raiders are better than I expected in the secondary. And the Broncos really need help in some spots. The good thing for the Chiefs is that we have some fresh players that are looking to really go off this season. I hope that next year, I can put both the Chiefs’ offense and defense on top.