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Chiefs Draft Profile: 3 intriguing cornerback prospects with official visits

There are three noteworthy mid to late-round cornerbacks to which Kansas City has been linked.

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas from April 28-30, we’re taking a look at some of the players the team could be targeting with their 12 draft picks: Round 1 (29 and 30), Round 2 (50 and 62), Round 3 (94 and 103), Round 4 (121 and 135) and Round 7 (233, 243, 251 and 259).

As you do your 15th Chiefs mock draft of the offseason — or even this week — you’re probably making sure you check on what cornerbacks are available to you at the end of the first round and into Day 2.

In his four drafts with the team, Kansas City general manager Brett Veach has never selected a cornerback before Day 3 — but it hasn’t hampered the team’s ability to field a capable cornerback group. If it’s not a position he values as much as others, he can at least justify his logic.

This means that while the Chiefs need to add cornerbacks, it’s very possible they won’t take one very early in the draft. They’ve met with a handful of cornerbacks that project to be drafted in the third round or later.

I’ve highlighted three of them as potential Kansas City draft picks:

Joshua Williams | Fayetteville State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This Division-II prospect has the physical build to be a perimeter cornerback for the Chiefs. At the NFL Combine, Williams measured in at 6 feet 3 and 195 pounds, with an 83rd-percentile wingspan and 77th-percentile hand size at his position. He also recorded a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, a 36-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 4-inch broad jump.

Williams converted from wide receiver to cornerback during his senior year of high school. In his three seasons at Fayetteville State — with a canceled season in between due to COVID — he totaled 81 tackles, four tackles for loss, 26 passes defended and five interceptions. He earned first-team All-Conference honors in 2021.

On the field, Williams blends his lengthy frame with instinctive ball skills at the catch point — probably from his days as a receiver. He shows good timing, too: he can get his hands into those of a receiver without drawing pass interference calls.

Williams is also able to quickly get downhill to help against the run. He’s willing to make big hits and throw his big body into a ball carrier. He may even be able to transition into more of a safety role.

A developmental prospect who has NFL traits, Williams has the physical profile (and strengths and weaknesses) that match what the Chiefs expect from their outside cornerbacks.

Jaylen Watson | Washington State

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Another fit as a Chiefs outside corner, Wilson measured in at 6 feet 2 and 197 pounds. With hand size in the 84th-percentile for cornerbacks, he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash. But the most impressive test result was the 18-rep set he did on the bench press — an 81st-percentile result.

Coming out of high school, Watson did not receive much attention. He had to settle for playing at Ventura Community College in southern California. After an impressive two-year run as an All-American cornerback with eight interceptions, Watson signed with USC prior into the 2019 season — but failed to qualify academically.

According to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, Watson didn’t play football that year and returned home to improve his grades. In the meantime, he worked with his mother at a Wendy’s restaurant. Washington State kept in touch, and Watson became eligible for the 2020 season. In two years there, he was twice named a Pac-12 honorable mention, with seven passes defended and two interceptions.

Watching his tape, his comfort level playing in press coverage at the snap stands out. He knows how to use his size to mess with the timing of a route, making the receiver work that much harder to get a release. He also appears to be a willing tackler.

Watson would be a good scheme fit in Kansas City.

Gregory Junior | Ouachita Baptist

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Junior is the second Division-II prospect on this list. At six feet tall and 203 pounds, he has the size to play outside. But he has average arm length and below-average hand size. At his Pro Day, he put up a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, along with a 39.5-inch vertical leap and a 6.97-second three-cone drill.

In 43 games over four seasons at Ouachita Baptist, Juinor totaled 128 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 17 passes defended — but only one interception. He earned first-team all-conference honors in 2021.

Junior’s build shows up in how he plays. On this rep at the Senior Bowl, he effectively jams the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Romeo Doubs of Nevada. He looks very comfortable and patient in press coverage, showing off a combination of smooth footwork and active hands.

Junior is projected to be selected towards the end of the draft. With his small-school label, his value could make him a steal whenever he is taken.

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