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LSU safety JaCoby Stevens could be a chess piece in Chiefs’ subpackages

29 Days of Draftmas continues with a safety-linebacker hybrid who could fill multiple roles in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

South Carolina v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

A very Merry Draftmas to you!

We continue our tradition of profiling an NFL Draft prospect every day in April, leading up to the NFL Draft on April 29th. Every day, you’ll get a prospect profile that includes how they would fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since arriving in Kansas City, Steve Spagnuolo has embraced subpackages that involve three safeties on the field. Offenses are playing with lighter personnel and faster players all over the field, necessitating dynamic players at every level. Defenses have begun to target versatile pieces that can play multiple roles — and at multiple levels of the defense — allowing defensive coordinators to counter offensive tendencies without changing personnel. Today’s Draftsmas article features one of these versatile defenders — and one of my personal favorite players in the draft.

JaCoby Stevens, safety

Mississippi v LSU Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

6’1” | 212 lbs | LSU

Murfreesboro, TN

Expected draft range: Day 2

One-sentence bio: Five-star recruit and two-year starter at safety at LSU after beginning his career at wide receiver

One-sentence scouting report: Explosive playmaker that lined up at as a deep safety, at linebacker and off the edge for a top collegiate program

One play:

How he fits in Kansas City: Several NFL teams will wonder whether Stevens will play safety at the next level or as a coverage linebacker — as he did at the Senior Bowl this year. Spagnuolo and the Chiefs are one of the defenses multiple enough to maximize him at both positions.

Stevens could immediately step into the dime linebacker role, replacing Ben Niemann and upgrading the Chiefs’ coverage ability in their dime defense. He is a surprisingly good run defender and blitzer as well, allowing the Chiefs to be multiple on defense without changing personnel. Stevens’ contributions in the dime could transfer to base downs, replacing Dan Sorensen if the Chiefs decided not to re-sign the veteran safety after the 2021 season.

Stevens’ ability to move between deep safety, linebacker and an off-the-edge blitzer could help to unlock some of Spagnuolo’s defensive packages. The Chiefs defense has maximized “chess piece” players in recent history — and adding another could make life even more difficult on opposing offenses.

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