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Kansas City Chiefs Positional Review: Cornerback

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# Name Pos Ht Wt Born Exp College Hometown Acquired
34 Tyron Brackenridge CB 5-11 189 6/30/1984 R Washington State Ontario CA CFA-07
38 Michael Bragg CB 6-1 190 12/31/1981 1 Texas A&M - Kingsville Lakewood CA FA-06
41 Tony Franklin CB 5-10 180 9/1/1984 R Virginia Cleveland OH CFA-07
24 Ty Law CB 5-11 200 2/10/1974 13 Michigan Aliquippa PA FA-06
45 Marcus Maxey CB 6-2 200 2/2/1983 2 Miami Navasota TX D5-06
39 Dimitri Patterson CB 5-10 190 6/18/1983 2 Tuskegee Miami FL FA-07
40 Justin Phinisee CB 5-11 199 4/10/1983 1 Oregon Long Beach CA FA-07
20 Benny Sapp CB 5-9 190 1/20/1981 4 Northern Iowa Ft. Lauderdale FL FA-04
23 Patrick Surtain CB 5-11 195 6/19/1976 10 Southern Mississippi New Orleans LA T (MIA)-2005

Probably the most difficult position in football to play (Have you ever tried to cover someone, even in a pick up game?), the Kansas City Chiefs cornerback situation is one of opposites. We have our two accomplished veteran starters, Ty Law and Patrick Surtain, who have 23 years of experience between them. The remaining 7 guys have 10 total years of experience.

In the last 4 years according to Football Outsiders, the Kansas City Chiefs' pass defense has ranked 21st, 28th, 16th and 20th respectively in the league. Despite the highly touted addition of Ty Law (I definitely did some touting), the pass defense was actually worse with him on it. Law's 10 INTs in 2005 appear to be an anomaly, considering he only had 11 INTs in the previous 3 seasons. My point is that Ty Law isn't the player he used to be and is almost assuredly on the decline. To Law's credit, he was healthy all of last season and did start every single game for the Chiefs. As long as Ty Law stays healthy in 2007, there isn't really a reason why he shouldn't be starting. Despite a drop off in skill level, few viable alternatives exist.

Patrick Surtain is the other half of our Pro Bowl set of cornerbacks. Still consistently good (but not great), Surtain also started all 16 games last season alongside Ty Law. Also like Law, Surtain's best days are behind him but he is still markedly better than any of our younger corners.

Benny Sapp came to the Chiefs in 2004 and showed promise at the cornerback position. His lack of playing time is more a case of bad timing than anything else. Patrick Surtain came to the club in 2005 and then Ty Law came along in 2006. Sapp simply hasn't had a chance to shine. He was injured for 5 games last year with a knee injury. Despite that, he is more than likely the heir to whoever retires first, Law or Surtain.

I don't have a lot to say about our other young corners who have seen limited action. Most are destined for either special teams or the practice squad. I'll let a few selected phrases describe each one:

Tyron Brackendridge: A developmental prospect who could be destined for the practice squad..

Michael Bragg: Is expected to contribute on special teams and battle for playing time in the defensive backfield

Tony Franklin: Struggled a bit at the end of OTAs, which was noticeable since he’d really done a good job in handling the position previously.

Marcus Maxey: His quick feet, instincts and competitiveness will enable him to compete for a roster spot as a backup cornerback initially and if he gets the chance to play in a Tampa Bay Cover 2-type defensive scheme, he will develop into a solid starter who makes plays on the ball consistently, but also will get beaten deep more often than most corners due to tight hips and a lack of top-notch speed.

Dimitri Patterson: Would be lucky to make the team; already with his third team in 2 years.

Justin Phinisee: Can make it in the NFL as a backup cornerback and safety who will make most of his plays on the special teams coverage units and as a punt returner.

As it stands now, Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are the Kansas City Chiefs two starting corners. As far as no. 3 and no. 4 go, Sapp is most definitley in the no. 3 position while the no. 4 position is more than likely going to be a battle in training camp. I'll throw my hat in the ring for Marcus Maxey for no other reason than he appears to be the best athlete out of the remaining guys.

If you noticed, I am not subscribing to the youth movement as I've previously done in this series. Surtain and Law are still two pretty good corners. Because of the difficulty of the position, cornerback is probably the one position you can't just throw a rookie in for experience and survive each game. We'll just have to wait and see which young corners rise to the top this season. I hope we see some growth from some our young guys this season because I don't want the CB position to end up like our offensive line. Since probably 2003, I kept telling myself that next season was it for our famed offensive line. The Chiefs did little to prepare for the eventual dissolution of the O-line because we always had consistent veterans. Now we have a group of rather average (with the exception of Brian Waters) linemen that have little chance to restore the group back to glory. I'd hate to see the same thing happen to the CB position. Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are indeed acceptable cornerbacks but their time is coming to a head soon. This is the year I hope the Chiefs can develop a young guy that can break apart from the pack and establish himself as our next starting cornerback. If not, we'll soon be having flashbacks to 2003-2004 when I could have thrown TDs against our pass defense.

Previous Positional Reviews:

Safety
Tight End
Defensive Line
Runningback
Wide Receiver