Why LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton is the right fit for the Kansas City Chiefs
By the numbers:
6’0”, 197 pounds. 4.46 40-yard dash. 30-⅝” arms. 6.94-second 3-cone drill. 35.5-inch vertical jump.
38 tackles, 14 passes broken up in 2019.
Kristian Fulton’s senior season was easily his best yet. Recording career-highs in games played (15), tackles (38) and passes broken up (14), he cemented his status as one of the top corners in the 2020 NFL Draft. He possesses good length for a boundary corner and could even be moved into the slot and thrive in press or off-man coverage in year one.
Fulton is a prototypical “sticky” corner that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s got the length and athleticism to keep up with most receivers down the field — and he knows it. This also makes him an intriguing option in zone coverage. Good hands at the line of scrimmage and hip fluidity are both pluses.
When Fulton is at his best, quarterbacks try to avoid throwing in his direction. In last season’s SEC Championship Game, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm didn’t target Fulton at all in the first half of the contest. He knew better than to challenge him, and that level of respect is hard to earn as a collegiate corner.
Fulton may need to improve his lower-body foundation in the event he’s asked to be more aggressive at the next level. Solid athleticism and good upper-body strength were enough to get him by at LSU but that won’t always be the case as his professional career unfolds. He’s occasionally just a hair late on reacting to underneath routes, but with adequate closing speed, he makes up for it more often than not. When he doesn’t, he can get a bit grabby. That may lead to some pass interference calls in the NFL.
Tackling is Fulton’s biggest flaw. He’s a willing tackler, although he needs to significantly improve his tackling fundamentals. Ball-hawking also isn’t his specialty, which may be a turn-off to some teams.
Fulton missed the entire 2017 season after being suspended for using a false urine sample during a drug test. The suspension was originally slated to last two seasons before the case was reopened. This may be a red flag for some teams.
How Fulton fits with KC:
With Kendall Fuller departing and the status of Bashaud Breeland still up in the air, cornerback is a need for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton are currently slated to be the team’s top two corners, but beyond that, uncertainty sets in.
Spagnuolo is big on versatility. Fulton’s got it. He can play on the outside or move into the slot, allowing Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill to play over the top. He’d be a hand-in-glove fit in the Chiefs’ current system with room to improve and not a ton of pressure on him to stand out from day one.
Kristian Fulton makes a lot of sense for the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of the first round. He has a high floor due to his traits that project well as a lockdown corner and at his peak, and there’s hope he could become an AJ Bouye/Byron Jones-type cornerback.