With the Kansas City Chiefs now out of championship contention, they’ll be looking ahead to April’s NFL Draft. The Chiefs will have several holes to fill, as evidenced by some of their play this season. This article will look at five prospects on the defensive side of the ball that the Chiefs could potentially target.
First Round Kansas City Chiefs Draft Targets: Defense
Jalen Tabor of Florida University is a special talent. The 6’0″, 198 pound corner has the size and skill set to be a potential number one corner in the NFL. Tabor is a man coverage corner, superb at mirroring routes and preventing separation, particularly on short and intermediate routes. His athleticism allows him to stay with a receiver and be in position to break on the ball extremely well, leading to disruption when the ball is thrown his way. His talent warrants a top ten selection, but he may fall to the Chiefs at pick 27 due to mild character concern. Tabor served a suspension in 2015 for getting into a fight with a teammate and has been suspended for behavioral issues previously to that as well, including once for refusing a drug test.
Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley is everything you want in a corner physically. He is 6’1″, 200 pounds, and possesses very good speed and strength. He has great instincts and ball skills, attributes which allow him to make plays and succeed in both man and zone coverage and he sticks with receivers well. The big corner is an asset against the run as well due to his toughness and good tackling. Some faults in Tankersley’s game are his sloppy hand placement, which causes him to get a bit too grabby at times, and his inconsistent timing.
If Peppers could be described in one word, it’s dynamic. The Heisman Trophy finalist did it all during his time with Michigan, playing in all three phases of the game and seeing time at 15 positions all together. He led the team in tackles for loss with 16 while also notching four sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. Primarily a safety on defense, Peppers also saw significant time at linebacker and at cornerback.
In the NFL, his best fit will likely be at safety. Possessing elite athleticism and instincts, this prospect has what it takes to adapt in the pros. Quick, strong, and an aggressive tackler, Peppers has the necessary skill to be a good run support safety. Coverage is his main weakness. A bit stiff and slow to turn his hips, he can allow separation at times, particularly to small, fast receivers. This should be less of a problem at safety, where he’d primarily be on a tight end if used in man coverage. Despite needing improvement in his coverage, the fearless physicality and explosiveness from this diverse player shouldn’t be slept on.
Who? The Vanderbilt product in Cunningham is the best linebacker you probably don’t know. The most underrated player in the draft may be this man. His skills are everything the Chiefs need. An absolute beast as an inside linebacker, Cunningham’s biggest strength is his run stopping, something Kansas City needs help with badly. Great use of hands and block shedding allow him to consistently find his way to the ballcarrier. Speed, explosiveness, play recognition, physicality, and very good coverage ability highlight this prospect’s skill set. There’s potentially Luke Kuechly type upside here. Cunningham has all the tools to develop into an elite inside linebacker in the NFL.
With the potential departure of defensive tackle Dontari Poe this offseason, the Chiefs are going to want a good replacement. Brantley would be that and more. The Florida Gator is a disruptive run-stuffing interior defender with potential to develop into a complete defensive tackle prospect. He has impressive strength, quickness, and burst combined with great use of hands and solid footwork make him a promising prospect. His combination of physical traits can prove to be dangerous once he hits the NFL.