There are holes elsewhere on the Kansas City Chiefs roster, but no position has received more attention as a "need" than free safety. From mock drafts that target top prospects at the position to calls for free agent help, NFL analysts and fans would love to see the Chiefs upgrade from starting Kendrick Lewis at the spot.
Luckily, the glaring need is likely to receive a lot of attention this offseason. Andy Reid and John Dorsey proved they know how to take a troubled spot and address it in comprehensive ways. Last year at this time, quarterback was deemed the major issue, and the team brought in three new players top to bottom in Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray. If safety is a problem, they'll find a solution.
But what if the solution is already in-house? It's unlikely that the Chiefs will sit on their hands in terms of player acquisition in the defensive backfield, but they might already have at least some hope (or help). Sanders Commings was the team's fifth round choice in 2013, and the pick was instantly hailed by analysts as a very solid pick for the Chiefs.
Commings was a cornerback in his final season with the Georgia Bulldogs, but he projected as a "tweener" at the time of the Draft. The Chiefs agreed and played him some at safety. Unfortunately, a fractured collarbone kept Commings from playing most of the season, as he totaled only three defensive snaps in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos.
While Commings was unable to develop on the field in 2013, his size (6'0, 223 pounds.) and athleticism could make him a safety Bob Sutton would love to have in place in the secondary.
A cornerback with the build of a starting outside receiver (and the athleticism to have been a late-round MLB draft pick as an outfielder) will certainly generate interest among NFL scouts. As expected given his size, Commings can be physical and bully wide receivers. However, his footwork and quickness aren't ideal for a corner, so there is a potential conversion to safety in his future.
ESPN's report likes his press coverage ability:
Commings is a big and physical cornerback that has the versatility to line up at the safety position. He excels in press coverage and can open up to carry receivers downfield. While he has some tightness in off-man coverage, he shows above-average instincts in terms of finding and playing the ball.
Here are some other reactions from Twitter at the time he was drafted (including a Richard Sherman comp!):
Big fan of DB Sanders Commings...hybrid CB/FS who can start in the NFL in the correct role #Chiefs— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 27, 2013
When I watched Commings what stood out to me is how well he can matchup with TEs, his press skills & aggressiveness in running game.— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) April 27, 2013
Rd.5No.134: Chiefs - CB Sanders Commings, Georgia. Want to now who this year's Richard Sherman is, here you go. 6'3/216/4.41.— NFL Draft Bible (@NFLDraftBible) April 27, 2013
Bottom Line: The Chiefs undoubtedly need to add some help at free safety, and it's likely that two new faces would be an appropriate response -- both a solid veteran and high draft choice. But that doesn't mean Commings can't be the guy if the team is high enough on his ability to do the job. The growth curve here is still substantial given the lack of snaps at the position. For 2014, Commings likely remains a developmental player in the secondary.
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