5 Chiefs players who could be high potential special-team options
Every season, fans and analysts often complain that Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator (and assistant head coach) Dave Toub has too much influence over staff decisions. Last week we took a look at five capable players to make Kansas City’s roster based almost entirely on their special-team abilities. This included three players who lingered behind the team’s 53-man roster for several seasons – while making very minimal contributions in attack or defense.
So now let’s take a look at the other side of this coin.
As the Chiefs continue to field an elite squad set to compete for a Super Bowl, the team appear to face a recurring problem: Each season they have few low-cost options planned for depth roles. during the following season. Currently, Kansas City has 38 players under contract for 2022 – but 14 of those players are either this year’s draft picks or rookie free agents.
For the long-term health of the franchise, the Chiefs would do well to identify players who are capable of playing special team roles in 2021 – and who could at least become role players on offense or defense in 2022.
Above the cap Jason Fitzgerald recently ranked teams based on the number of 2020 shots that will potentially be lost to free agency in 2022. The Chiefs were third, with 6,169 offensive shots and 5,095 defensive shots given to non-players. signed this season. (Note: These numbers do not include the 2020 snaps of recently re-signed defensive end Alex Okafor).
So filling out the list will present a challenge since most of the 2022 salary cap spaces (existing or created) will likely go to safety Tyrann Mathieu and offensive tackle Orlando Brown.
Given Kansas City’s needs beyond this season, here are a few players who could be options for Toub’s rosters in 2021 – while still working with post coaches for bigger roles in 2022.
CB Dicaprio ankle boot
Bootle is a former three-star Florida rookie who has started 32 straight games with the Nebraska Cornhuskers over the past three seasons. He’s split his time between security and the cornerback in Nebraska, showing the versatility Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo appreciates from his backup defensive backs.
Bootle’s college film shows a smart player who is a sure tackle. In his last two seasons in the Big 10, he’s played away a lot – but given his size, any NFL defensive contribution will likely come inside as a slots defender or security. of rotation.
On Nebraska’s pro day, Bootle’s running time of 4.38 over 40 yards sparked some skepticism – but his playing speed seems more than enough to help both special teams and defense. Arrowhead Pride Senior Analyst Ron Kopp did an excellent analysis on Bootle.
LB Riley Cole
Under head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs have often shown a preference for a high football IQ over the raw athletic abilities of their reserve players. According to Charles Goldman of USA Today’s Chiefs Wire, tThe team thought about Cole’s footballing intelligence so much that they worked him as a full-back – even though he never played an offensive snap during his career in Southern Alabama.
Cole could benefit from what looks like a weak squad competing for reserve linebacker roles. But with his limited athleticism, he will have to gain Toub’s confidence to stay in the race for a place on the list; likely, there aren’t enough defensive snaps available to justify keeping Cole on the same roster with Nick Bolton and Anthony Hitchens.
If given the chance to develop while seeing time on special teams coverage, Cole could be a rotating linebacker in 2022, playing a SAM role in obvious running situations and providing depth for linebacker MIKE. – maybe behind Bolton in case Hitchens comes out for the 2022 cap each. Ron has also written a great article on Cole.
Devon Key S
Thanks to their BYU connection and almost identical size, undrafted security Zayne Anderson has been compared to the current security of Chiefs Daniel Sorensen. But looking at the West Kentucky defensive back Devon Key’s strip, he rooms more like Sorensen – for better or for worse.
Key has almost no potential to be a starter in 2021, but potentially offers value in subassemblies where a safety box is used.
Like Sorensen in 2014, Key comes to the Chiefs with four years of college production. While Western Kentucky rarely plays in elite competitions, Key’s experience could allow him to play against special teams early in his career, as his new teammate may have.
During the offseason schedule, Key stood out from other undrafted rookies. He has been seen working on defense, although it could hardly be assumed to be training without the box safety pads. It will be interesting to see if he can capitalize on his hype after contact begins.
CB BoPete Keyes
Since he already has a year of experience with technical staff, the former Tulane cornerback is in a different situation from the other players on this list. Based on his use in 2020 – and the number of reserve cornerback candidates signed after the draft – there are signs that the team’s experience with Keyes won’t necessarily work in his favor.
Most will recall that the Chiefs returned in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft to select Keyes – dropping what would ultimately be the 215th pick in the 2021 Draft. The very minor compensation used to acquire him is unlikely to be a factor in it. the composition of this year’s list.
In 2020, Keyes appeared in eight Chiefs games, seeing 58 special-team shots. He played six special-team snaps in the Divisional Round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns before being inactive for the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl LV.
Almost all of Keyes’ defensive shots came in Week 17 against the Los Angeles Chargers – as the starters were resting. Keyes allowed four receptions on six targets in that small sample, getting a PFF score of just 39.1. With 17 defensive backs heading for camp, Keyes should feel an urgency to show immediate improvement; few players are kept as drafts for multiple seasons.
His height plays in Keyes’ favor, which is probably why the Chiefs originally traded him for him. Even with a crowded secondary hall, the Chiefs don’t have many players looming as high corner corners behind L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward – the latter being an unrestricted free agent on hold. If Keyes can gain Toub’s confidence in special teams, he could gain more time to develop his physical traits on defense.
WR Cornell Powell
Unlike the other players on this list, the former Clemson wide-out enjoys a very high level of list security. While Powell didn’t create the buzz many fans were hoping to see during the offseason schedule, it would be shocking if the 2021 fifth-round pick didn’t make the squad.
Powell played five years at Clemson – he finally broke out in his senior season in a red shirt. After playing behind some of college football’s top receivers, Powell comes to the Chiefs with experience in kick coverage teams, but only a small sample as a kick returner.
After a long career in one of college football’s most successful programs, Powell could be a valuable player on the overall roster. He may have enough experience that even as a rookie he can play an important role in special teams, combined with a rotating position in attack. Even though he doesn’t feature impressive stats, his versatility could come in handy if the team wants to keep an extra body in a different position of need.
Other than Powell – who will almost certainly be a large part of Toub’s units regardless of his offensive contributions – it’s hard to predict which of these players will make the roster. After the draft, the team appeared to make an effort to recruit players who can almost immediately contribute to special teams while having the potential to develop as future role players. This suggests that there will be at least one or two new faces playing for Toub this season – likely to the detriment of some of his longtime favorites.