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What can Leon McQuay III do for the Kansas City Chiefs?

Let me say this right out of the gate: there’s not a whole lot of film on Leon McQuay out there in the world, so this isn’t going to be as exhaustive as we normally get.

I was (thanks to a Chiefs fan on Twitter) able to find some all-22 footage on YouTube, but it consisted of all positive plays. That puts me in a tough spot, since literally any player who was just drafted could put together an impressive set of cutups over the course of a 3 year college career.

However, I’m dedicated, so I want to talk about what McQuay appears to be able to do and what he may not be able to do. This should come with a GIANT caveat of “we’re only going off a few snaps, so who knows guys.”

Let’s start off with the positive stuff (which is what is usually gif’d, since gifs of bad stuff are boring and no fun and I have a policy about always being fun).

First of all, McQuay has good size (6’2, 185 pounds) and from what I can tell plays like it. His best attribute from what I could see was his run defense.

At his best, McQuay is a guy who does a good job finding the ball, getting to it quickly, and doesn’t get hung up in traffic. I like that he’s willing to be physical with ball carriers and he even demonstrated that with blockers. He’s not like a lot of secondary players, who basically are done as soon as a blocker reaches them. He’s good at using his length to keep guys at bay while he tracks down the ball.

As a tackler, McQuay is willing, and that’s good enough for me for now. He’s not afraid to give a hit and isn’t always just looking to drag ball carriers to the ground. He generally wraps up but does need to improve in this area.

Really, a lot of what I was able to review was about McQuay’s run defense. He played ALL OVER the field at USC, from nickel corner to safety to hybrid ‘backer to even boundary corner at times (though that last one was more rare in the footage I was able to watch). Often it seemed like USC used him as a run stuffer more than a coverage guy. And at times, even when he wasn’t in position to stop plays at the line of scrimmage he did a good job saving the defense from a big play.

My understanding is that the Chiefs had McQuay line up in the slot during rookie camp, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do with him moving forward given his ability as a run defender. When he’s off the line of scrimmage especially he shows a knack for running down plays, taking proper angles and generally being in the right spot at the right time. He needs to be more sound wrapping up, but beyond this I’m really pleased with what I saw in that department.

With regards to coverage, I’m a lot less sure. That’s in part because there’s just not much to watch. Based on what I saw, he has some good traits and some that are more concerning. On the good side, he’s definitely aggressive contesting passes.

Again, McQuay is a pretty big guy in coverage, and he’s not at all afraid of contact. That becomes an advantage once the ball is in the air, and he seems to fit the profile of what John Dorsey likes in corners with regards to that skill (Peters, Nelson, Mitchell, and White are all highly aggressive at the catch point).

McQuay also seems to possess decent speed once he gets moving. From here, though, I get a lot less sure about his man coverage skills. McQuay doesn’t appear to have very good quickness based on what I was able to observe. While his top speed was solid, it seemed to take him an extra couple of steps to reach it. In the NFL, that’s death to a corner (though less troublesome for a safety if his instincts are solid) against a WR with speed, as once you’ve lost a few steps it’s almost impossible to regain them.

I’m also not sure about McQuay’s quickness. His feet look heavy to me, which doesn’t bode well when you’re trying to mirror the types of routes you’ll see in the pros, especially as a nickel corner.

Overall, based on what limited film I could find, McQuay looks like a solid athlete with lots of size and some potential, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily a fit at corner due to his acceleration and quickness issues. Of course, if he learns to use that length to his advantage (like Sean Smith at his best), or if he learns to use his length physically in press man coverage, that won’t matter as much. But for now, he looks like a guy who will be best served trying to find a role on special teams and hopefully developing into a depth player down the road.

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