When it comes to the defensive backfield, make no mistake – defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo definitely has a type.
At cornerback, he likes guys that are long with speed typically on the outside (Ward, Sneed, Keyes) or if you lack length, he goes after more physical corners that will stick on to you and be bothersome in coverage (Breeland, Fenton, Baker) but they all have to be willing tacklers and able to play a multitude of coverages.
At safety, we typically have smart guys playing, that can be downhill vs. the run, with versatility in coverage whether it be defending in the slot, shutting down TE’s and capable of run fits. For the most part, that 3rd safety position is something we’ve been lacking in recent years that would provide a major boost to our defense.
With our defense running 3+ safeties often, it creates versatility to the defense that allows us to disguise coverages (last year we ran Cover 2 invert often on key downs), while also being able to play the run better than normal in a standard nickel or dime package. Here are five defensive back prospects that I could realistically see us grabbing and fit the mold of what Spags’ is looking for.
The 6’2 200 pound safety from TCU in my opinion, is the most fitting of the defensive back prospects to be drafted by the Chiefs. Moehrig is a smart, versatile player with a quick trigger. Fluidity in his hips allows for him to get out of his breaks with ease and transition towards the ball, he’s also not shy when it comes to bringing contact. He can play in the slot, two-high, or even the range to play single high in some doses though I think you’d want to keep Thornhill doing that majority of the time. He’s got good route recognition, with + ball skills, over the course of his last two seasons, Moehrig has had 6 int’s along with 20 pbu’s. We all know how important the passing game is and what better way to impact a game than getting the ball back to Patrick Mahomes.
The Oakland native sat out the 2020 season, but was an impact player for the Oregon Ducks in 2019. Another thing that stands out to me is Holland’s versatility. He played in the slot quite often for Oregon, but I’m not sure that’s the role I would want to limit him to in the NFL. I don’t think he’s a true slot defender like Tyrann Mathieu or Kenny Moore, but he could definitely take reps there and be adequate. Where Holland’s value comes to me would be as a guy who is a + run defender and his playmaking ability that would allow us to let Mathieu roam even more than he did last year because I think he shows range to play two-deep and can lock up athletic TE’s. Holland’s playmaking ability saw him bring in 9 int’s over the two seasons he played and also averaged 14.4 yards per punt return so this guy’s just a playmaker and you can never have to many of those.
Mr. Grant made himself a little more money wrapping up his college career with an impressive Senior Bowl campaign. Standing in at 6’ 194 lbs, Grant is another safety that brings a lot of versatility to the table and that is exactly how they used him at UCF. He played single-high often, manned up in the slot, box safety and split zones. I think Grant is the best true free safety prospect in the class, but I wouldn’t want to just limit him there, especially having Thornhill here as well. Grant is a good blitzer and tackler who was also said to be the leader of the db’s at UCF who might have 2 other guys go relatively high in the draft in Aaron Robinson and Tay Gowan. Grant finished his career with 10 int’s, 17 pbu’s and 5 FF’s. His presence would allow us to help shore up the middle of the field, which was a weakness at times last season and bring more athleticism to the equation.
The 6’1 194lb cornerback out of Kentucky was a transfer from LSU and his best football is probably in front of him. He’s a long, fluid athlete that can make plays on the ball. His best game was probably vs. Alabama, which is always a plus. His weaknesses are things that can be coached, such as bad eyes which can affect his ability to close on the ball, but those go hand in hand. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and has good technique. His fluidity for his size, movement and footwork will probably have him going higher than normal, but he did have some inconsistencies. With that being said, he only really played one college season and that was a covid season so his weaknesses can be fixed with proper coaching and repetition and I think he’s someone the Chiefs should be in on.
Trill might be a guy I’m higher on than a lot of others in the scouting community. Not to beat a dead horse, but his versatility stands out. He spent time at wide corner, slot corner and safety. He’s also 6’2 198lbs. He’s got a lot of length, range and physicality. He projects at outside corner in the NFL. More than willing as a run defender. I would have liked to see more ball production, but he definitely makes a lot of plays still scoring 3 td’s in his 2.5 season career, via FF, INT and Punt return. He actually reminds me of L’jarius Sneed coming out. A guy who moved around positions but if he settles in at cornerback he might just break out and become a potential star player with proper coaching in the league to go along with his natural ability.
In today’s NFL you have to have a surplus amount of defensive backs with the way the league is moving forward. These are all guys that I think are possible gets in our draft positioning that could come in and make an impact on the game and bring more athleticism and playmaking ability to the Chiefs defense, while fitting the mold of what it seems our coaches typically look for.