The Chiefs young corners will be given an opportunity to carry the load early with the suspension of Bashaud Breeland.
There is a whirlwind of uncertainty regarding the Kansas City Chiefs cornerback depth heading into the 2020 season. However, Brett Veach is confident that the guys they need to #RunItBack again this year are already in the building. The Chiefs trimmed their roster to 53 on Saturday and kept five corners with Breeland still on the suspension list. This position group is bound to have a major impact on the upcoming season despite their inexperience.
On Thursday when the Chiefs take the field against the Houston Texans, it is still uncertain who will start opposite of Charvarius Ward. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said they still plan to “mix and match” to replace Bashaud Breeland on the outside at cornerback. The starting nod will likely go to the only other returning cornerback on the active roster from last years Super Bowl team—Rashad Fenton. Fenton spent most of his time on special teams last season, but carved out a role as a slot corner late in the season. When he was on the field he made his presence known, surrendering a passer rating of just 57.7. Fenton will get a shot to prove himself as a starter to begin the season. Once Breeland returns, he will most likely move back into the slot, but expect Fenton to make an impact this year.
This offseason, one of the few free agents the Chiefs lost was Kendall Fuller. Once Thornhill went down with an injury, Fuller showed his versatility and played a safety/corner hybrid role for the Chiefs defense. This season, that role will most likely be filled by newcomer and special teams ace, Antonio Hamilton. Hamilton has the speed to drop deep in the dime, but like Fuller, finds success in the middle of the field. With such a specific role in certain packages, expect Hamilton to still see the field when Bashaud Breeland returns.
This leads us to the rookies, L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes. Although Sneed has experience playing both safety and corner, the Chiefs seemed adamant in April that he was drafted to play cornerback. Keyes, however, began training camp on the non-football injury list with an orbital fracture and returned to action on August 16th. Spags has shown confidence throughout camp in what he’s seen from L’Jarius Sneed. We should expect Sneed to earn an opportunity to contribute sooner rather than later with the loss of Bashaud Breeland for the first four games. It seems as though Keyes, on the other hand, has more work to do and is not likely to make much of an impact this season.
Finally, expect Charvarius Ward to take off this season, submerging himself into the category of elite. He had an up-and-down season last year and was still able to post elite numbers in several categories. Ward had the lowest passer rating (67.3) and yards allowed (634) among cornerbacks who played 1,000 snaps last season. The long, physical cornerback is a pest in the run game and posts a run defense grade of 83.5 per PFF. Entering his third NFL season, Charvarius Ward has a chance to prove himself as a true alpha, island type cornerback.
There is a lot of uncertainty among this group entering the 2020 season but expect someone to step up and make an impact. Once Bashaud Breeland returns following his Week 5 suspension, the Chiefs will recoup their two starting cornerbacks. This will allow them to be flexible and decisive in how they deploy the new, young cornerbacks. With Brett Veach encouraged by the development of the group throughout camp, we should have a little confidence in this budding group of playmakers who will play an integral part in helping the Chiefs #RunItBack.