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What do the Chiefs have in veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick?

The AP Nerd Squad was burning the 7 a.m. oil to review Scandrick’s film.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs finally made the late, big free agent defensive back signing we’d been waiting on for what feels like a month now. Orlando Scandrick has been signed by the Chiefs, as reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and ESPN’s Field Yates:

The move comes on the heels of a preseason game in which Steve Nelson suffered a concussion and David Amerson didn’t have the cleanest outing, but there may not be a reason to read much into the direct results of the game on Friday.

The Chiefs were very quick to get on the phone with Scandrick’s agent and get him into Kansas City for a meeting mere hours after he was officially released by the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins had originally signed Scandrick to help ease the losses of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland (still a free agent), and Scandrick looked primed to get some slot defensive back run with the Redskins before a handful of young players impressed during their camp.

Jay Gruden has publicly said they released Scandrick early in the process to help give him time to land with another organization.

Last year, with the Dallas Cowboys, Scandrick played the majority of the snaps early in the year when healthy but as Dallas appeared to fall out of the playoff race, he saw less time as younger players were injected into the defense to get experience.

Like much of his career, Scandrick was a starting outside cornerback that would kick inside to the slot defender when the Cowboys went into nickel.

It’s been noted that Scandrick is a veteran player who had his worst statistical season last year, possibly indicating a downturn in his career as he ages, but when the tape was flipped on, it was more of teams throwing elsewhere than Scandrick struggling.

Let’s go to the film:

Orlando Scandrick

Man coverage: Scandrick has played in a variety of systems in Dallas over the years but has always been at his best when allowed to play in a physical, man-to-man scheme. Scandrick has always been a feisty player that wants to get rough with receivers on the outside but has combined that with polished footwork to make up for any lacking athleticism he may have as he ages.

The throw here comes in a little off target but Scandrick is in position thanks to his technique to stay over the route and his physicality at the break point (and catch point).

He’s in a position to challenge any time of the throw but does a good job of locating the ball while trailing and making sure to punch it away from the wide receiver rather than play the wide receiver at the catch point.

One thing that hurts Scandrick a little bit in man-to-man coverage is quickness when paired with good routes. He isn’t the most fluid athlete nor the quickest, so if a wide receiver can get him leaning or turning and then break in a different direction, there isn’t enough juice for Scandrick to catch up.

Fortunately for Scandrick, he often has good feet that keep him in position to follow the breaks, but he can still be found chasing on longer horizontal routes when it gets to be a footrace.

Zone coverage and off-man coverage: Dallas transitioned to a little bit more of a zone defense opting for more off-coverage and more frequent off man alignments when in man-to-man coverage.

Scandrick wasn’t terrible, but he also looked less comfortable than when mirroring players off the line of scrimmage (LoS) and allowed to get into their body. Quicker wide receivers were able to get into his feet and threaten him while he had nothing but athleticism and hip fluidity to save the rep which isn’t what he hangs his hat on.

There was a little bit of promise to his game from the mental side of the side of things as he’s able to identify route concepts and read the quarterback quickly when he’s able to keep his eyes on them.

Scandrick is a deep alignment, and in man to man, here and almost appears to be bailing just to stay on top of his wide receiver the entire time.

This allows him to maintain eye contact with the quarterback and the rest of the field and identify the corner route coming underneath him as he’s turning to run vertically. He quickly snaps off his vertical route and closes on the tight end, delivering a big hit to the tight end, who does a fantastic job of holding on. The ability to process the field makes Scandrick a player who is intriguing in schemes that allow him to play more than just the wide receiver.

Slot defense: Scandrick has been the main slot defender for a few years in Dallas, where they opted to kick him inside for their nickel sets. It’s been discussed a ton over the recent years about the importance and difficult nature of playing the slot defensive back role dealing with shifty wide receivers that have more space to work with but it’s been a position in which Scandrick has thrived.

Shows good patience and foot placement off the LoS to stay in front of the wide receiver. When the wide receiver runs out of empty field, Scandrick does a good job getting his hands on them to not give up a clean break and allows him to break under the slant for the pass breakup.

This time, lined up as an off-cornerback in the slot, Scandrick quickly drives down on the flat route when the wide receiver opens to the quarterback. As the receiver turns up the field, Scandrick supplements his athleticism by taking a good angle towards the sideline and squeezing the wide receiver out of bounds taking them out of the play.

Another element to Scandrick’s play from the slot is the ability to blitz effectively and work through traffic into running lanes or throwing windows. Similar to his angles in space and footwork in coverage, Scandrick is able to stay balanced as he attacks downhill allowing him to not overrun plays and often make a play on the ball.

Something that should be addressed at this point is a lot of these latter traits align very well with the safety position and not just as cornerback.

This isn’t entirely new for Scandrick, as the Cowboys tried to do this early in his career but a few years later, Scandrick was adamant that he wasn’t going to be doing so again when the questions arose. It’s something that’s always been in the cards for Scandrick based on his physical nature, good sense for the game and less-than-ideal athleticism for outside cornerback.

It’s a positional change the Chiefs have implemented with Ron Parker and Eric Murray in the past.

Now that Murray has moved to full-time safety, or some variant of it, the Chiefs have lost their CB/S hybrid player they’ve used in the past (Hussain Abdullah, Ron Parker and Eric Murray) and is a role they could very much see Scandrick fitting.

If we are talking Scandrick at safety, we would have see how he performs as a run defender:

Scandrick, whether playing the run from outside or the slot, is very aggressive in his fits and does a good job working outside-in to maintain contain. He’s more comfortable filling outside gaps and didn’t show near the vigor when filling interior rushing lanes from the slot.

He wouldn’t avoid the assignment but rather didn’t push as aggressively into the lane. He’s certainly not a candidate to make the switch to a box/strong safety but as the slot safety/cornerback hybrid the Chiefs have used in the past, he could be a valued player.

The bottom line

Originally, when Scandrick was visiting the Chiefs, my first thought for his fit was as this hybrid-defensive back to help alleviate the pressure on the young safeties, and this still may be his best fit but as we saw vs. Atlanta, we are one small injury away from a late/undrafted rookie playing significant snaps.

In addition to that, Amerson hasn’t looked as sharp as some would hope (nor as bad as it’s being made out to be) in the first two preseason games, making a versatile player like Scandrick very enticing for this Kansas City Chiefs team.

I’m excited to see how the Chiefs go about playing him over the few weeks.

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