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Washington’s Elijah Molden would be a dream fit in the Chiefs’ secondary

29 Days of Draftmas continues with a cornerback/safety hybrid that checks all of Steve Spagnuolo’s boxes as a slot defender.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

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.

After the Chiefs traded away their first-round draft pick for Orlando Brown Jr., the focus shifted to their two second-round selections and what positions they could target there. While pass rushers and wide receivers are high on the list, the Chiefs’ pursuit of a slot cornerback in free agency could tip their hand about what they could do with picks 58 and 63. If they do decide to look for defensive back on Day 2, here’s a player who is an ideal fit for the Chiefs’ secondary — just waiting for Steve Spagnuolo to weaponize him.

Elijah Molden, cornerback

NCAA Football: Washington at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

5’9” | 192 lbs | Washington

West Linn, OR

Expected draft range: Day 2

One-sentence bio: Two-year starter (with first-team All-Pac-12 nods in 2019 and 2020) whose father played defensive back in the NFL for eight years.

One-sentence scouting report: High IQ defensive back with experience in the slot (and at safety) who can bait quarterbacks into mistakes and stuff the run from the box.

One play:

How he fits in Kansas City: Molden would not only be an ideal fit for Spagnuolo’s secondary, he might be one of the highest fits of any cornerback in the draft. Yes... he lacks length to play on the boundary — and he also lacks long speed to carry fast slot receivers on vertical routes without safety help. However, the impact he makes through robbing routes in underneath zones and filling the alley in run support will remind Chiefs fans of another player: Tyrann Mathieu.

Adding Molden to the secondary would give Spagnuolo another player who has the IQ to quickly process route distributions and adjust his leverage on the fly to take away the middle of the field. He and Mathieu would be a dangerous pair in underneath zones; they could help mitigate some of the linebacking corps’ deficiencies in coverage. Quarterbacks and offensive coordinators already have to know where Mathieu is. Molden could be another weapon in that same vein.

On top of his excellent coverage ability, Molden is a terrific blitzer and run defender, giving Spagnuolo the comfort level he needs to move L’Jarius Sneed to the boundary in 2021 and beyond. So acquiring Molden would have a cascading effect. He would not only make the Kansas City secondary more dangerous to in the middle of the field, his presence would also make it more dangerous on the boundary — all without sacrificing the slot coverage that Sneed showed at the end of 2020.

If Molden is the pick at 58 or 63, I’d be ecstatic. The Chiefs would have another schematic weapon that their defensive coordinator would know exactly how to use as an impact defender in 2021.

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