Kansas City Chiefs can find a replacement for Safety Tyrann Mathieu on Day 2
The clock is ticking on some of Kansas City’s most important players. Starting defensive lineman Jarran Reed, starting cornerback Charvarius Ward and part-time starting safety Daniel Sorensen are among the Chiefs who will become unrestricted free agents.
But the biggest name to hit free agency is free safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose status in the AFC championship game is unknown after he suffered a concussion against Buffalo.
Just how important is Mathieu?
His 76 tackles in the regular season tied him for third-most on the team. He also had 1 sack, 2 TFLs, 6 PDs and a team-leading 3 INTs, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Mathieu also led the team with 3 FRs. And Mathieu, who will be 30 by the time next season starts, led the team with 998 snaps on defense, or 89 percent of the defensive plays.
Just don’t expect the Chiefs to address the safety position in the first round, as there’s only one consensus player at that position projected to go on Day 1 in Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton.
However, as Walter Football points out, the Chiefs should have plenty of options in Rounds 2 and 3. From the latest Hot Press Report: “Prospects who were named (by NFL team sources) as quality second- or third-round picks were Michigan’s Daxton Hill, Georgia’s Lewis Cine, Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker and Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook. Some NFL teams view Hill as a nickel corner primarily, but would line him up at safety in the base set. Cine stepped up with a strong junior year to help Georgia win the National Championship. Cook notched four interceptions in 2017 for Howard, and he finished with a strong senior year for Cincinnati in 2021. Brisker put together an impressive senior year and could continue to rise with a good week at the Senior Bowl.”
Hill (ranked No. 65 in Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board), Brisker (No. 67) and Cine (No. 72) are rated in the late-second to mid-third round, while Cook (No. 126) is ranked as more of a fourth-round prospect.
Other safeties in that Round 2- to Round 3-range include Baylor’s Jalen Pitre (No. 76), Illinois’ fast-rising Kerby Joseph (No. 82) and Oregon redshirt sophomore Verone McKinley III (No. 88), who tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions this past season with 6.
The player he tied with for the lead? Baylor safety JT Woods, who is expected to be a new entrant in the Rigdon big board this week, although he could also see time at cornerback. His teammate Pitre, like Michigan’s Hill, also could see the bulk of his playing time at slot cornerback.
Overall, seven of the top eight safety prospects are ranked in the 65- to 90-range. Therefore, if Kansas City passes on a safety in Round 2, then one of the aforementioned players might not be available in the bottom half of Round 3.
The last time Kansas City drafted a safety on Day 2 was in 2019, when Virginia’s Juan Thornhill went to the Chiefs with pick No. 63 overall. Thornhill has taken 852 snaps this season, good for third on the team, and is fifth on the team with 64 tackles.