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Chiefs’ young corners will play pivotal role in new-look defense

The Chiefs’ 2022 draft class corners know they must hit the ground running.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie runs between drills during rookie mini camp NFL football practice Monday, May 9, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP

If the offensive line rebuild captivated Brett Veach in the offseason of 2021, a defensive back room renovation has enthralled the Kansas City Chiefs general manager in 2022. Veach explained his infatuation with the unit in an interview with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, admitting it was always the Chiefs’ plan to grab a corner in the first round.

More than just a first-round fascination, Veach used the 2022 draft to overhaul the unit completely; using four of the team’s eventual ten draft selections on cornerbacks.

“I think we’ll have a ton of competition for those three, four and five spots,” Veach said of the team’s cornerbacks post-draft. “We have to have balance on both sides of the football,” he continued. “And we wanted to upgrade the youth, the talent, and the depth on the defensive side.”

While Veach estimates 21st overall selection Trent McDuffie will break training camp as an every-week starter for the defending AFC West champs, others work to stand out in the early days of offseason programming.

“[There is] definitely a learning curve but I wouldn’t call it overwhelming,” said cornerback Joshua Williams, fourth-round pick out of HBCU Fayetteville State. “I knew it was going to be faster…more complex… everything.

“Everything is really just technique. Breaking bad habits and making them into professional habits and good habits.”

With returning stalwart corner Rashad Fenton still rehabbing from an offseason shoulder surgery, the young unit could be thrust into action earlier than assumed.

Kansas City’s 2022 cornerback construction crew wasn’t draft exclusive either; nabbing Houston corner Lonnie Johnson Jr. in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round pick on May 3.

(And oh, yeah…They’ve been linked to recently released Giants cornerback James Bradberry all offseason too.)

“They don’t care if you’re a rookie,” said cornerback Nazeeh Johnson, seventh round selection from Marshall University. “They expect everything out of you no matter what round you’re from.”