Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Backs and Cornerbacks Coach Sam Madison gave General Manager Brett Veach trouble about the lack of cornerbacks drafted in 2019.
According to Madison, while speaking with the media in a video conference on Thursday, Veach promised there would be more depth down the road. He delivered with the fourth-round selection of defensive back L’Jarious Sneed and the seventh-round pick of cornerback Thakarious “BoPete” Keyes in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“Luckily, for these two guys, and we get them into the room now, now I see and understand why he felt that way,” Madison told reporters. “These guys have been spot on, very good with the questions that we ask on a consistent basis. The things that [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] asks of them, they’re doing their best right now.”
Sneed and Keyes join a cornerback group anchored by the returning Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland and Rashad Fenton. Former New York Giants and Oakland Raiders CB Antonio Hamilton also joined the position group this offseason.
Hamilton has the chance to step up in the possible early absence of Breeland, but Madison isn’t ruling out the potential of other candidates. The uncertainty down the depth chart at cornerback will likely play into Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's tendency to mix different personnel together, similar to what he did with Ward, Breeland, Fenton and former Chief Kendall Fuller last season.
“Hamilton, we brought him in to be able to come out and compete,” Madison said. “But, when you look at the landscape of offenses this year, you’re going to have three wide receivers on the football field every single time, so you need to find that third corner. Coach Spags has a really good mixture of guys that he can play with. We can coach these guys up and get them to understand how to play together, the sky is the limit, going out there and making plays.”
Ward, Fenton, Sneed and Keyes could have to work together to fill in for Breeland in the early weeks of the season, as Breeland had a four-game suspension pending before he was arrested on misdemeanor charges last month. Breeland is appealing the suspension.
Ward, who is entering his third season in the NFL, would become the most senior cornerback in terms of logged defensive snaps. He finished the 2019 season with 74 tackles, 10 passes defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
Madison praised Ward's growth and production, as the Chiefs continue to expect Ward to bring stability to the cornerback position.
“His confidence is really high,” Madison said. “Now, here’s going to be a lot of expectations placed on him just because of the way he played last year. We didn’t understand and know exactly, but he went out there. Veach and them, they talked about him, they raved about him, and he showed up. Game in game out, absolute, but he has to do it consistently. That’s what growing up in the NFL and getting to the next level is really all about.”
Madison said Ward adjusted into his role as last season progressed, but still has more to learn. He hopes Sneed and Keyes can pick up on the same concept.
“So, if they’re willing to do this and continue to do it throughout the course of their career that means they did some really good work on the backgrounds of these kids,” Madison said. “Me and [Defensive Backs] Coach [Dave] Merritt are enjoying them every day.”
The defensive backs room also includes Hakeem Bailey, Javaris Davis, Lavert Hill, Alex Brown and Chris Lammons.