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Potential safety prospects for Chiefs in each round of the 2019 NFL draft

Chiefs Wire logo Chiefs Wire 4/8/2019 Charles Goldman
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The Chiefs' safety group is still loaded with questions.

They've brought in Tyrann Mathieu to be a defensive leader and a versatile piece in the secondary. The expectation is that he'll be playing closer to the line of scrimmage. That means the Chiefs could still be looking for upgrades to the free safety spot. They have a lot of bodies on the roster, but no clear answer and after the struggles of last season, they need to bring in competition.

Here's a look at some of the pieces they could consider adding in each round of the 2019 NFL draft.

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Round 1: Nasir Adderley S Delaware

Given what the Chiefs currently lack at the safety position there probably isn't a better fit in the first round than Nasir Adderley. His range is exceptional and borderline elite. He's always around the football and trying to get his hands on it. Adderley plays fast to the football in run defense and doesn't have a whole lot of wasted movement when attacking.

Adderley is also regarded as one of the hardest working players in this class, and not just at the safety position. As a small-schooler you have to be willing to put in that extra work to get a chance at the next level. It's that type of mentality and commitment to the process that will succeed at the NFL level. He does the extra work in preparation and training that has him in consideration to be the top FCS player drafted in 2019.

The Chiefs have often placed emphasis on drafting standouts from the Senior Bowl, and Adderley certainly stood out there during the practice week and during the game. Going to the alma mater of the Chiefs' general manager also won't hurt Adderley's chances with the team.


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Round 2: Juan Thornhill S Virginia Cavaliers

Juan Thornhill is one of the do-it-all safeties in this draft class. A lot of that versatility comes from his athleticism. He's a naturally gifted athlete and showed out during the pre-draft process. At the combine he tied the record for the best vertical jump with a 44.0 inch jump. He also had 21 repetitions of 225 on the bench press, and ran a 4.42 40-yard dash.

Thornhill is one of the quickest processors in this draft class. He's got great range to play free safety and his ball skills pop off the screen. He's also quite good at weaving through traffic in run defense and finding the fastest way to ball carrier.

The talent evaluators for the Chiefs have shown that they really value safeties with man coverage skills, and Thornhill's previous experience as a cornerback lends itself to man coverage. The Chiefs brought Thornhill in on a pre-draft visit and had formal and informal meetings with him at the combine, so there is some real interest here.


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Round 3: Marquise Blair S Utah

There's few players in this class more fun to watch on tape than Marquise Blair. He's a heat-seeking missile style safety who absolutely loves playing downhill. The guy has more big hits on tape than any safety in this group, but sometimes that aggressive style of play can get him into trouble. It's okay to love to hit, and even encouraged in the NFL, but playing with discipline is also key.

As impressive as Blair's tackling in run defense is, I'm most intrigued by his ability as a deep safety. His range has an elite ceiling and he's flashed that elite play from the single high spot. His acceleration stands out quite a bit, as he can go from 0-to-100 quite quickly. Still, Blair needs more work and development time to truly reach his potential in the NFL.

The Chiefs have a unique connection to Utah, being that defensive assistant Alex Whittingham used to play there just a few years ago. In fact, Blair told me that he spoke with Whittingham at the combine and quickly recapped the 2018 season.


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Round 4: Will Harris S Boston College

Boston College product Will Harris has been a standout throughout the pre-draft process. He boasts a 4.4 40-yard dash and it shows up on tape frequently in both coverage and run fills. The area that I've been most impressed with Harris is man coverage. His interception against Andy Isabella during 1-on-1 drills in Senior Bowl practice had Harris looking more like corner than a safety.

The big knock on Harris' game and the reason he likely won't be drafted until day three is his lack of ball skills. Five interceptions and just seven passes defended in four seasons and 47 games played. That'll raise some eyebrows as evaluators meet and discuss this player.

One bonus that Harris has going for him is his ability as a special teams player. His timed speed will certainly help his case in that department too.

Harris is already on the Chiefs' radar as he met with the team at his pro day.


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Round 5: Khari Willis S Michigan State

Sometimes it pays to scout the person behind the tape. Don't get me wrong, Khari Willis is an exceptional player, but the NFL likes the full package here. Willis is not only a team captain, but he's the type of player that leads by example off the field. For a team like the Chiefs adding a player like that is invaluable as they look to rebuild their defense.

On the football field Willis brings you a physical presence in run defense. He has really good closing speed once he reacts and puts his foot in the ground. That speed translated in the pre-draft process with a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine. Willis has flashed some skill in coverage as well, but I think he's more NFL ready when he's tasked with assignments closer to the line of scrimmage and attacking the run.

Willis has also shown improvements every year throughout his college career. That's not a bad mark to have when heading into the NFL.


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Round 6: Evan Worthington S Colorado

I picture Evan Worthington as a developmental project as a deep safety. He's flashed good range and ball skills on tape to be successful at that spot. Some teams will like him as a match piece in man coverage, but I'm not confident he has the speed to do it in the NFL. He improved on his 40-yard dash time from the combine during his pro day, which has drawn more interest from teams.

It'll be interesting to see where Worthington fits at the next level. Some teams like him at corner, others safety, and at his pro day Worthington said some teams have told him they see him as a linebacker. It just goes to show the type of athlete that he is that so many teams think he can play all these different positions.

Colorado has turned out some good defensive backs over the last several years. Worthington looks like he'll be the next one to get a shot at making a mark in the NFL.


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Round 7: Broderick Thomas S UAB

At this point in the draft you're looking for developmental pieces and players who can contribute on special teams in the first year. Broderick Thomas is a prospect that is flying under the radar, but his tape warrants considerations in the late rounds.

He's fearless as a tackler and he's shown up in the bigger games he's played for UAB. In 2017 when UAB played Florida, Thomas set a career high in total tackles. In 2018 when UAB played Texas A&M, he recovered a fumble that helped keep his team in the game. Those are both SEC teams, and Chiefs GM Brett Veach is a former SEC scout. So it's probably good to play well against those specific teams coming from a smaller school.

Experience as both a safety and a cornerback is a big bonus for the Thomas with the Chiefs. Thomas also had three blocked kicks when he was playing at Cisco Junior College, so that special teams prowess is certainly there.

Honorable mention late-rounders/UDFAs: Chris Johnson (North Alabama), Ron LaForce (New Mexico State), and Antonio Fletcher (Arkansas State)

Potential Chiefs prospects

Quarterbacks (Coming soon)

Running backs (Coming soon)

Wide receivers (Coming soon)

Tight ends (Coming soon)

Offensive tackles (Coming soon)

Guards (Coming soon)

Centers (Coming soon)

Defensive tackles (Coming soon)

Defensive ends (Coming soon)

Linebackers (Coming soon)

Cornerbacks (4/9)


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