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).
With all the attention on the players Kansas City will be selected with their first few picks, we shouldn’t lose focus on some other prospects who may be available in the later rounds. They could become nice depth on a roster that needs to be injected with more athleticism and talent.
Rounds 4-7 may be where general manager Brett Veach has had his best selections. Cornerback Rashad Fenton and utility lineman Nick Allegretti were late-round selections in 2019 who were contributors on a Super Bowl team. 2020 draftees L’Jarius Sneed and Mike Danna have made major contributions. And 2021 picks Trey Smith and Noah Gray seem primed for improved seasons in 2022.
After cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes and safety Armani Watts left in free agency, there are holes the Chiefs still need to fill in the secondary. If the Chiefs keep most of their picks, here are some later mid-round guys that would be a welcomed addition to the team:
Damarri Mathis - Pittsburgh
While not always apparent on tape, Mathis solidified himself as an elite athlete performing very well at the combine. Mathis shows good physicality to his game as he can maintain tight coverage throughout the route, especially in press. Mathis is a very sound tackler who will make the tackle more often. Mathis possesses a great feel for the receiver in coverage and pays off all the way to the pass where he excels taking crisp angles to make a play on the ball. He does almost everything at the catch point right, getting his head around to track the ball and making a play on it.
Mathis doesn’t have the best size for the position, and that can hurt him significantly when he makes a mistake. Mathis can be a little too aggressive, causing flashes of bad technique and penalties downfield. Because of his aggressiveness, Mathis can lose his footing downfield and allow an easy catch for the wide receiver. In terms of routes over the middle, Mathis can tend to allow a bigger cushion than he should. He excels in press, but can have a few mechanical mishaps here and there, which, again, will hurt him greatly at the NFL level. Mathis also suffered a shoulder injury in 2020 that kept him out.
Overall, Mathis is an elite athlete at a premium position that requires top-notch athleticism. And on top of that, he’s a physical competitor and a proactive playmaker, with the building blocks to be a stifling press cornerback with safety versatility. Mathis would be a value pick in the mid-rounds for a Chiefs team that desires his tenacity and playmaking ability.
JT Woods - Baylor
Woods offers the perfect blend of free safety range and strong safety instincts to where he can cover deep while still being a notable contributor in the run game. Woods works downhill well with processing speed and experience to help set the outside well in terms of positioning. He is a high effort player who was always one of the first Baylor defenders to get to the ball, no matter the area of the field it was at. A standout at the combine with 4.36 40 speed and incredible jumps that showcase all he can do to get around and contribute on the field. Six interceptions in the 2021 season show an encouraging knack for finding the football.
Woods still needs a bit of work as a tackler. Too often, he would get outmuscled or misfire in his angle and find himself out of reach to bring down the ball carrier. He can be undisciplined in coverage, working too far up and allowing for his assignment to get past him. He has the athleticism to keep up as a defender, so it will really be about fixing bad habits in his game more so than his inability to do it. Very skinny for his frame, he will likely need to add weight to contribute to his full capabilities in the NFL.
Overall, he’s shown to have the processing capacity to keep refining the rougher parts of his game. He brings near-elite range on the back end, with the explosiveness, long speed and length to cover inordinate amounts of ground that could develop into being an impact playmaker in the secondary.
Markquese Bell - Florida A&M
Bell has the versatility to line up in multiple spots on a defense. He can play in the slot, in the box and in 2-high safety looks. His long speed, explosiveness and loose hips give him a lot of intriguing tools to develop on. Bell does a great job getting downhill and plugging gaps against the run. He is a quick processor and does a great job IDing where run plays are going quickly. In coverage, Bell uses his length and fluidity to man up with opposing tight ends, running backs, and even some slot receivers. He is a great tackler and takes solid angles in space.
Bell does struggle in zone coverage. In shallow zones, he struggles to process route combinations quickly and tends to get caught flatfooted. When tasked with deeper zone assignments, Bell tends to drag himself out of position and is not reading the quarterback’s eyes and adjusting his positioning accordingly. He is routinely late to get over the top of routes and rarely offers deep support for his corners that are put on islands. His instincts in zone are lacking overall, as he does not read and react on plays quickly enough and is rarely breaking on routes as the ball is going to them.