2017 NFL Draft Preview: The Case for a Cornerback

Breaking down the Chiefs’ cornerbacks and looking at a handful of prospects

Two years ago, the Kansas City Chiefs made what's turned out to be one of the best moves during a draft weekend in franchise history—selecting cornerback Marcus Peters out of the University of Washington.

Despite question marks surrounding the defensive playmaker heading into the draft, the Chiefs felt comfortable with Peters, who went on to win the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award by nabbing eight interceptions in his debut season.

Peters then followed up that impressive rookie performance by picking off six passes in his second season, despite being targeted substantially less often.

Over the past four drafts, general manager John Dorsey has used five picks on cornerbacks, including four within the top 98 picks.

Chiefs Draft History Under GM John Dorsey - Cornerbacks
Year Round Pick Player Games College
2016 3 74 KeiVarae Russell 5 Notre Dame
2016 6 178 D.J. White 11 Georgia Tech
2015 1 18 Marcus Peters 31 Washington
2015 3 98 Steven Nelson 27 Oregon St.
2014 3 87 Phillip Gaines 27 Rice

The Chiefs have drafted a cornerback in the first round only four times in franchise history, and each made at least one Pro Bowl in their careers. 

Here's a look at all of the cornerbacks drafted by the Chiefs who made at least one Pro Bowl. 

Pro Bowl Cornerbacks Drafted by the Chiefs
Year Rnd Pick Player Pro Bowls College
1992 1 20 Dale Carter 4 Tennessee
1983 3 61 Albert Lewis 4 Grambling St.
1977 1 10 Gary Green 4 Baylor
2015 1 18 Marcus Peters 2 Washington
1984 7 173 Kevin Ross 2 Temple
1969 1 23 Jim Marsalis 2 Tennessee St.
2008 2 35 Brandon Flowers 1 Virginia Tech

The Chiefs have a lot of young talent at the cornerback position right now.

There are eight cornerbacks on the roster and none of them are older than 25 years old.

Kansas City Chiefs - Current Cornerbacks
NAME AGE EXP COLLEGE
Acker, Kenneth 25 3 Southern Methodist
Gaines, Phillip 25 3 Rice
Harris, Vernon 22 R Dartmouth
Mitchell, Terrance 24 3 Oregon
Nelson, Steven 24 2 Oregon State
Peters, Marcus 24 2 Washington
White, D.J. 23 R Georgia Tech
Wilson, Julian 25 2 Oklahoma

While there's plenty of young talent currently on the roster at the position, there's never enough talent in your defensive backfield in today's NFL.

Between the frequency at which teams are throwing the football and with offenses consistently spreading you out, which saw the Chiefs running six defensive backs on the field oftentimes last season, the ability to add more talent to such a key area is more of a requirement than a luxury.

The cornerback position is one that many draft analysts have connected to the Chiefs with the No. 27 overall pick in the first round in their mock drafts over the past several weeks.

Who do the experts believe are the top cornerbacks in this draft?

NFL Draft Experts Rank Their Top 5 Cornerbacks in 2017 NFL Draft
Rank Mike Mayock Bucky Brooks Matt Miller Todd McShay Mel Kiper
1 Marshon Lattimore Ohio State Marshon Lattimore Ohio State Quincy Wilson Florida Marshon Lattimore Ohio State Marshon Lattimore Ohio State
2 Marlon Humphery Alabama Marlon Humphery Alabama Marshon Lattimore Ohio State Tre'Davious White LSU Tre'Davious White LSU
3 Kevin King Washington Gareon Conley Ohio State Gareon Conley Ohio State Quincy Wilson Florida Gareon Conley Ohio State
4 Gareon Conley Ohio State Chidobe Awuzie Colorado Sidney Jones Washington Teez Tabor    Florida Marlon Humphery Alabama
5 Fabian Moreau UCLA Teez Tabor    Florida Tre'Davious White LSU Jourdan Lewis Michigan Teez Tabor    Florida

Five More Intriguing Prospects to Know

Here's a look at some other guys who will be selected during draft weekend:

(Excerpts from their NFL.com scouting report).

Washington'sSidney Jones(6'0", 186 pounds)

"Jones is a "casino cornerback" who has the ball skills and instincts to tilt the odds in his favor when quarterbacks look his way. His toughness and desire to make plays on the ball is remarkably similar to his friend and off-season workout buddy, Marcus Peters. Jones has lockdown corner talent but will have to prove he can add muscle without sacrificing speed. His football character and play traits should make him a long-time starter with Pro Bowl potential."

Clemson'sCordrea Tankersley(6'1", 199 pounds)

"Has an impressive body of work as a lockdown, boundary cornerback but he has some holes in his transitions that could open the door for more separation on the next level. While he's not always the most fluid in coverage, his 6-foot-1 frame and eight interceptions will be the two numbers some teams will focus heavily on."

Houston'sHoward Wilson(6'1", 184 pounds)

"Smooth athlete with excellent length who has a long history of making plays on the football. Wilson is fast and fluid and he's willing to do his part as a tackler, but he needs more muscle and more experience before he's ready to handle some of the physical receivers he will see in the league. Wilson's size, speed and ball skills will be coveted traits and they give him a chance to become a good NFL starter with time."

Houston's Howard Wilson (6'1", 184 lbs) averaged an INT every 15 times he was targeted.

Also had a 6.68 3-cone at the Combine (T-3rd best). pic.twitter.com/S3bFuCdeD6 — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) April 6, 2017

* USC'sAdoree Jackson(5'10", 186 pounds)

"There are two things teams love -- ball production from cornerbacks and return men who can play meaningful snaps on every down. Jackson fits those criteria. His lack of size and length are concerns, but he has the athleticism to step right in as a slot corner on the next level. His combination of coverage and return talent could make him an early impact player."

* Iowa'sDesmond King(5'10", 201 pounds)

"Four-year starter and ultimate iron man. Played in more than 94 percent of Iowa's defensive snaps over his four years and took 46 percent of the special teams snaps in 2016. Football instincts are off the charts. Focused quarterback reader who overlaps into other coverage areas to go make a play on the ball. Pattern reader with anticipation to keep him ahead of the route. Creates unique angles to throws, allowing for top-ball production. Obsessed with getting the ball; nabbed 14 interceptions in college and 29 in high school. Has ball-tracking, hands and high-point talent of a wideout."* *

"Football instincts are off the charts."

(* potential nickelbacks)

Why taking a cornerback makes sense for the Chiefs:

Again, this is a position that almost every team in the NFL will select at least once in the upcoming NFL Draft, so it makes sense for everyone.

When it comes to potentially using a high draft pick on the position, the Chiefs aren't in a position where they'd necessarily have to make that move.

Nelson, Gaines and Mitchell all showed promise for the Chiefs last year, and White and Acker both found time on the field as well.

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