KCCD Editor: Jinx Allessio
The Chiefs lost Brandon Carr, who was deemed by many one of the best free agents available. The Chiefs did not believe he was worth more than 90% of the other cornerbacks in the league, also not worth more to the Chiefs than Brandon Flowers. In 2012 the Chiefs depth at safety was exposed after Eric Berry went out in week one. In response to the loss of Carr and lack of depth Scott Pioli quickly signed former Raider, Stanford Routt. The four starters have cemented their positions on the roster but what is more interesting heading in to camp are the battles and story lines that will take place.
Travis Daniels and Javier Arenas are two players who have roster spots locked down that need to be watched. Travis Daniels is the camps wily veteran who has experience across most secondary positions, but the Chiefs need to figure out where he fits. He will see time at S running with the 1′s and 2′s while Eric berry comes along. Daniels could play CB at any given moment. Every team needs players like Daniels and he has found his niche in KC.
Arenas is in a unique situation not because of his special teams ability and a slot coverage skillset but the Chiefs acquired a few players that can spell trouble for him. His slot covering ability, open field tackling, and pass rush skills provide the Chiefs the versatility RAC likes. His Tide counterpart, De’Quan Menzie played the same position at ‘Bama and defensively mirror’s Arenas. The pass happy NFL may lead to seeing both ‘Bama corners being on the field at the same time in nickel and dime situations. How Romeo implements De’Quan, who Scott Pioli said was one of the smartest football players in the ’12 draft, will be telling about the over emphasis towards the subpackage being the majority defensive set.
Second year corner Jalil Brown will have some competition on special teams(Brown was 2nd on the Chiefs in ST tackles in ’11) and as CB3/4. Jacques Reeves and Mikail Baker have natural athletic ability who are solid in the back pedal with fluid hops. These two could fight for a spot on the roster as a depth in the secondary and be immediate help on special teams. Reeves has had a similar career path to Travis Daniels. He has played STs, and most secondary spots. If Jalil does not impress in camp, Reeves may be the guy to bump him lower on the depth chart or even worse, off the roster. I do not foresee that, but what that battle through out camp.
What many analysts call camp fodder has me most excited about the 2012 training camp in St. Joe. Several players will be fighting tooth and nail for a spot on the roster. From my estimation there may be 1 spot available on the final 53 and may be 2 on the practice squad. The combination of Terrance Parks, Neiko Thorpe, Tysyn Hartman, Chandler Fenner, Dominique Ellis, and Jean Fenor (along with the previously mentioned Baker) will be fighting for 3 Chiefs jerseys. The bigger names like Parks and Thorpe showed a lot of promise early in their college careers then became exposed for different reasons which led to them being undrafted free agents.
The Riot Squad (as I will call this group, creative I know) will need to stand out on several levels in St Joe. First, they will need to show they are not overwhelmed by the speed of the NFL game. Training camp is not that same as the game itself, but this is a good test to see where they are at physically and mentally. Next the Riot Squad will have to show versatility. Not only will they need to show they can read and cover but also contribute on all four special team units. The more you can do, the more they want you. Finally, which some may deem the most important is to know where you have to be at all times. This is part of the learning process which can be tied in with the speed of the game.
I will make one prediction in regards to the Riot Squad, Jean Fanor will open up some eyes. While at Bethune-Cookman he played both sides of the ball and showed some return skills. An instinctual player that displays a smooth back pedal and more than adequate change of directions skills, Fanor seems the have the repertoire to be a contributor on all four special team units and will most likely end up on the Chiefs practice squad. Open field tackling and taking the appropriate angles in pursuit of a ball carrier are key attributes of someone who can make a name for himself as a UDFA, and in St Joe this is Fanor’s chance.