If I could pick a position I'm most concerned about moving forward for the Chiefs, it would absolutely be cornerback.
No one is a bigger fan of Phillip Gaines than me. I have stated before and I'll say it again; Gaines has more physical talent than any other corner on the roster. Yes, that includes Marcus Peters.
Calm down and put those torches and pitchforks away for a sec, please! I'm not saying Gaines is a better corner than Peters. I'm saying he has a ridiculous amount of physical talent. He's faster than all but the absolute fastest wide receivers, has wonderful quickness, and possesses arms like a ... a really long armed guy (analogies are not always my strong suit, to be sure).
My point is, I'm a Gaines homer. I think he's got a shot at being a phenomenal corner. The problem is that when it comes to Gaines and literally every other corner on the Chiefs roster, it's all about a shot. Outside of Peters, there's nothing even resembling a sure thing at one of the most crucial positions in the NFL. That's... well, it's concerning.
That concern, for me, is only compounded by the loss of Husain Abdullah. While he wasn't an All Pro player, Abdullah was talented and versatile. He was able to cover the deep third of the field or line up at the line of scrimmage, as well as do the occasional spot duty in man coverage. That's not easy to replace. Losing both Abdullah and Sean Smith makes the secondary go from set to alarmingly thin.
Seeing how John Dorsey drafted, I'm firmly convinced he feels the same way. Yes, I know, he didn't take a corner with his very first pick. However, of the nine picks the Chiefs had, three of them went toward the secondary. You know, corner (though there are some who talk about using Murray or White as a safety. We shall see).
Frankly, I love this strategy. For as much as people love high draft picks, the truth of the matter is that you're often better off going with quantity over putting all your eggs in one basket at a position (with notable exceptions regarding, say, an Eric Berry level prospect). The draft remains much more of a crapshoot than anyone likes to admit, and you're more likely to get a bust or a "meh" player than you are a solid starter virtually anywhere outside the top 15 or so (and even there, it's risky)
Doubling or tripling down (is tripling down a thing? I feel like it's not) is a way to offset the risk of missing on a player. By taking KeiVarae Russell, Eric Murray, AND DJ White, the Chiefs increased the odds of finding a guy who can contribute sooner rather than later. This would be especially huge if it would pull Ron Parker out of spot corner duty and let him be an actual safety (where he demonstrates nice range and instincts).
I've already discussed what Russell looks like in the limited film available here. I walked away at least intrigued with his man coverage ability and his comfort pressing at the line of scrimmage. I've reviewed both Murray and White now as well. I'll write about both in more detail another day (I know, I'm a tease), but White in particular is a guy who looks like he might surprise some people.
At the end of the day, though, the Chiefs currently look like this at the cornerback spot: Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson, Marcus Cooper, the aforementioned rooks ... and a bunch of dudes you've never heard of (if you'll recall, Fleming is likely going to play safety this season. Which, by the way, I think is a much better fit for him). Again, I'm not saying the Chiefs are guaranteed to have problems, but there's a LOT of risk there.
I mean, imagine if Gaines or Peters get hurt? Or if Gaines doesn't take the step forward we're hoping he will and plays middling football? That leaves us praying either Cooper or Nelson will be MARKEDLY better than they've ever shown, or that one of the rookies (or unknowns) steps up in a huge way. Frankly, even without an injury that's a lineup held together by our own optimism.
Worst case scenario even if everyone stays healthy? Peters has a sophomore slump, Gaines turns out to be not that good, and no one "develops." That's a borderline nightmare in which the Chiefs are weak across the board.
I'm not trying to incite a panic or anything (stop stockpiling, people! We'll make it through this!), just pointing out that the corner situation could head south very, very, VERY quickly.
On the other hand (because you have to end a piece like this on a positive note, lest people throw garbage), Dorsey has shown a decent eye for talent, and I have a great deal of confidence in Emmitt THomas's ability to help develop players who have talent (watch Peters in the first half of 2015 vs the second half, or Gaines as his rookie year progressed).
There may be an awfully low floor on this group, but there's a high ceiling there as well, and one that doesn't require all that much homerism to see.
For starters, Marcus Peters was really, really good last year. Particularly in the second half of the season. That's highly unusual for a rookie corner, and there's no rational reason to believe a guy with his attitude is going to do anything but get better in his second year.
And Gaines? Well, like I said earlier, I'm a big fan of Gaines. The injuries are definitely a concern, but he has absolutely shown the ability play high level football.
(drools) pic.twitter.com/CqI8fP1Kd0— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) August 7, 2015
Having both elite speed and exceptional quickness is very, very, very rare. Gaines is a specimen. When he's running with receivers it looks completely effortless. He can stay in anyone's pocket. The only question is whether he can stay healthy to do so.
As far as the rest go... well, Dorsey has earned the benefit of a doubt from me with regards to finding secondary talent. It doesn't take much imagination (particularly after watching Russell and White) to believe that Dorsey's been able to unearth guys who can contribute. See, we made it through the bad moment and are back to being optimistic!
ALL that said, I'll be keeping a close eye on the cornerback situation for the Chiefs as things progress. I'd advise you to do the same.