Examining the state of the roster, one position at a time. Corner backs are tougher to evaluate on paper because statistics only tell part of the story. I expect some healthy debate out of this post.
Strictly a special teams player for eight games this season, Barksdale is a rookie whose coverage skills are unknown. He came out of Albany as a strong safety/corner mix and was drafted in the sixth round by the Eagles as a "project". Barksdale didn't even play football until his junior year of college -- he was originally a baseball player -- so project is an apt description.
Impact in 2008: I've never been a fan of project players or players who were drafted based entirely on being an "athlete". Ramiro Pruneda, the Chiefs massive "project" at the tackle position, is currently sitting somewhere in his native Mexico, not employed by any football team. These project types come and go and usually don't stick around. Barksdale's best position, with his athleticism, is running down the football field on special teams. Don't expect him to do much more than that next season.
Law was a shadow of his former self last year but that was still good enough for him to be about average. His stats have been falling ever since he came to KC. In 2006, Law had 65 total tackles and and four interceptions. In 2007, he garnered 47 tackles and only two interceptions. Stats at the CB position don't tell the whole story but that is a major drop off.
Impact in 2008: Expect Law and Surtain to remain our starting corner backs. That may not last the entire season though, especially at Ty Law's age. A lack of better options ensures Law will play. 2008 may be his final season.
2007 marked Patterson's third year in the NFL but only counted as his second because he didn't play in a single game with the Vikings in 2006. Another special teamer, Patterson's had three tackles against his old team the Vikings in Week 3 and played in thirteen games this season for the Chiefs.
Impact in 2008: Right now, Patterson is at best a warm body on special teams for the Chiefs. He had the occasional good tackle in the secondary but beyond a few miscellaneous plays, I don't remember his name being called much. Like Barksdale, Patterson may or may not be around next season.
Here we have the other half of our starting corner backs. Despite both Law and Surtain seemingly dropping off in their ability, the Chiefs pass defense did end up ranked #5 overall. That is a remarkable stat considering how much better both Law and Surtain played in 2006 when the pass defense was in the middle of the pack. Part of that high pass defense ranking is related to our quite poor rush defense, which dropped from 18th in the NFL in 2006 to 28th in 2007.
Impact in 2008: He will be our other starter. Surtain still has a few seasons left in the tank. Both him and Law could benefit from some young talented competition in camp, whether to motivate them or to expose their age. The young guys currently behind them aren't exactly lighting a fire underneath them.
A rising star out coming out of training camp last year, Brackenridge occupied mainly the nickel corner position in 2007. Considering he joined the team last May as an undrafted free agent, the Chiefs' brass must really like him. He played well enough for a rookie but is still rough around the edges. He showed a tendency to sneak up from his position in the secondary, like most young guys do. If the Chiefs are willing to stick with him, I'm all for it.
Impact in 2008: Look for Brackenridge to slowly get more and more playing time as time goes on, similar to this past season. He only started one game in 2007 but played in all but the last two weeks of the season.
Outlook for 2008
The Chiefs are getting long in the tooth at the CB position and it's a spot that will desperately need upgrading after next season. The Chiefs would be wise to pick up a corner in this upcoming draft but I certainly wouldn't reach for one. If they don't, the cupboard is bare if Law or Surtain goes down with an injury. The CB position has the potential to become like our offensive line if we don't get on replacing and developing personnel immediately.
Edit: Yes, I left out Benny Sapp somehow. We're discussing him in the comments.