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Chiefs NFL Draft Profile: CB Kyler Gordon has the tools to succeed in the NFL

The former Washington Husky would fit into the Kansas City defense very well.

Oregon v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

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).

Let’s take a look at Washington Huskies cornerback Kyler Gordon.


Background

Gordon is a former dancer with kung fu background. He was a four-star recruit after being named all-state both as a cornerback and as an all-purpose athlete during his senior year of high school.

The 2021 season was Gordon’s first as a full-time starter opposite teammate (and first-round talent) Trent McDuffie. With quarterbacks looking to avoid McDuffie, Gordon had plenty of coverage snaps.

In addition to his All-Pac-12 First Team recognition in 2021, Gordon’s impressive play and physical attributes have allowed him to rise up draft boards this season.

Athletic testing

College film evaluation

One characteristic that separates Gordon from others in the class is that he is extremely fluid and loose in his hips; when carrying receivers in coverage, he can make seamless transitions. His foot speed and footwork are rare qualities among cornerbacks, making him particularly dangerous in coverage.

Thanks to Gordon’s lightning-quick feet (and his dance background), he doesn’t waste time or make small mistakes in his lower half. His speed burst (and foot speed) allow him to take some chances in coverage. In the NFL, this will give him a large margin for error; he’ll be able to recover quickly as he grows into the mental part of the game.

Since Washington plays a good bit of zone coverage, Husky cornerbacks are typically more ready to step into zone schemes at the next level. Gordon stays loyal to his zone and is rarely drawn out by receivers moving out of it. While searching for players moving into (and out of) his area, Gordon’s eyes always seem to be in the right place — and his quickness allows him to easily move to receivers entering or exiting his zone.

Gordon displays a natural ability to make plays on the ball. He can fight through a receiver’s body, easily coming back to get a hand on the ball. But he often toes the line between being physical and over-physical; especially at the catch point, he will occasionally get handsy. While his ability to antagonize receivers shouldn’t be coached out of him, he will have to learn to sometimes tone it back.

Gordon’s strength is evident. He is solid in press coverage, where he is willing to get up in a receiver’s face. In his best game against California, this part of his game was on full display: he intercepted two passes.

When working in run support, Gordon is not yet a finished product. With the Huskies, he was not tested that often, so there is still room for him to develop. He needs to improve his ability to react in the running game. He is far too inconsistent while shedding blocks and sorting through traffic — and goes after more all-or-nothing tackles than most coaches will like. While he shows aggressiveness, he could learn to trigger downhill more quickly.

He has, however, shown some nice reps where he limited extra yardage on the perimeter — and demonstrated good tackling in space.

How he fits with the Chiefs

In defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, Gordon’s physicality and burst will be a welcome addition to the cornerback group. With his ability to play both outside and in the slot — and the quick burst that allows him to go wherever he is needed — Spagnuolo will have another chess piece to move around.

Gordon possesses elite physical tools: short-area quickness, foot speed and ball skills. While he has some shortcomings, they look like they can easily be fixed — or should go away with more meaningful reps.

Since he only ran the 40-yard dash, Gordon’s NFL combine performance was a disappointment. This, however, should not affect his projection; his tape shows that he is more of a lateral athlete than one with long speed.

In a very talented cornerback class, Gordon has the potential to become a Day 2 steal — but it also wouldn’t be surprising if a contender in need of corner help selected him in the back half of the first round.