The Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a true blockbuster of a move earlier this month, acquiring cornerback Kendall Fuller and a draft pick from the Washington Redskins in exchange for quarterback Alex Smith.
Bringing Fuller to Kansas City certainly came at a price, as Smith led the Chiefs to four playoff appearances in his five seasons, but with second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes ready to take over under center, the 23-year-old Fuller was worth the gamble for General Manager Brett Veach and Head Coach Andy Reid – and for good reason.
Fuller recorded four interceptions, 10 passes defensed and a forced fumble last season – all improvements from his rookie campaign in 2016 – but it was the advanced metrics that really demonstrated his effectiveness. In fact, according to the folks at Pro Football Focus, Fuller was the sixth-best cornerback in all of football last season.
The vast majority of that work was done while covering the slot, where Fuller allowed a league-low 55.0 passer rating and just 0.74 yards per play in coverage.
It was a performance that drew the praise from around the league, and now in Kansas City, the Chiefs are confident that Fuller can replicate those results while playing as an outside corner.
“He’s got tremendous upside and I think he’s just tapping into that,” said Reid at the annual league meetings this week. “He developed, you could argue, into the best inside defender - pass defender - in the league. Now, he has an opportunity to step outside and do that also - just kind of add that to his repertoire.”
Reid indicated that Fuller will see plenty of action as an outside corner in 2018 while occasionally bouncing back inside if the situation calls for it.
The Chiefs dealt for Fuller with that plan in mind, and though it came at a cost, Reid believes the best is yet to come for the third-year defensive back.
“We felt like we needed defensive and secondary help, so I thought it was a win-win for both sides, which doesn’t happen very often in this league,” Reid said. “I thought it was great for the Redskins and I think it’s going to be great for us, too.”