If anyone knows how difficult it is to play on the other side of Marcus Peters, it’s Ron Parker.
Not only has Parker logged the occasional snap at cornerback across from Peters, the Chiefs’ Pro Bowl corner, he’s also watched a number of guys man the position the last two years from his starting safety position.
And this much he can tell you; when you’re playing opposite Peters, you’d better expect to see a lot of action.
“It’s tough playing on the other side of Marcus, because when you’ve got a Pro Bowl guy like that, a lot of quarterbacks are not going to throw his way,” Parker explained. “Whoever lines up on the opposite side of Marcus, you have to be really sharpening your skills.”
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Steven Nelson, a third-round pick in 2015, actually logged the most snaps of any Chiefs cornerback last season — 1,013 — and that includes Peters, who played 1,007 snaps. Nelson did a solid job, and showed the ability to shift inside against three-wide sets.
By the end of the season, Nelson and Peters were joined in the nickel and dime packages by Terrance Mitchell, a confident 24-year old who was signed to the Chiefs’ practice squad in early September and turned out to be a revelation.
“Terrance Mitchell, he did a great, great job for us late at the end of the season, filling in,” Parker said. “Whatever came his way, he handled it … it’s hard for guys to get open on him. He’s a real competitive guy … he doesn’t like too many balls to be caught on him.”
And the latter trait, Parker said, is one of the most important things he looks for in a cornerback.
“You have to have confidence, a little swagger,” Parker said. “You have to have something about you, some kind of dog, some kind of fight in you. You can’t get down on yourself. You have to have a short memory and forget about anything that just happened.”
Good thing for the Chiefs the deep, incoming crop of rookie corners — a position chock full of players they heavily interviewed at the NFL Combine — has no issue there.
When asked what it would be like to play with Peters, several of the players who were scheduled to interview with the Chiefs not only indicated their excitement at that possibility, but also at the chance to play for the Chiefs’ cornerback coach, Al Harris, a former Pro Bowler known for his aggressive bump-and-run coverage.
“I definitely know I could match his swag,” Florida’s Quincy Wilson, a potential top-100 pick, said of Peters. “If you see me play on Saturdays, I definitely could … I also like the kind of coach (Harris) is. I feel like he could get the best out of me, and he brings swag. I just like the way they play defense over there.”
Louisiana State cornerback Tre’Davious White, a potential top-50 pick, agreed — the chance to play next to Peters would be a blast.
“The Kansas City Thief, man,” White said of Peters. “I watch my DBs. He’s one of the best doing it right now. He’s been doing it at a high level since he got there.”
White even called Harris a “legend” after his combine interview with the Chiefs.
“He’s a guy I watched growing up,” White said. “Green Bay Packers, No. 31, with the dreads. He made a lot of clutch plays. It was a great vibe from him, being able to talk some football and coverages with a guy that has done it at a high level.”
Southern California’s Adoree’ Jackson, another likely top-50 pick, also looked forward to a chance to play across from Peters.
“It would be cool,” Jackson said. “I mean, he came from the Pac 12. He’s out there ballin’. And I know if I go out there, he’s going to teach me the ropes. And it would be good to go back to the Midwest; I’m from Illinois so that would be nice.”
That’s just the kind of confidence any corner needs to have to be welcomed into the Chiefs’ tight-knit secondary, which has seven players who have played together for at least two full seasons now.
“If you’re not a confident guy in this league at corner, man, I don’t think you’d even be out there,” Parker said. “You have to have confidence out there on the edge. Without that, you can’t perform and make plays the way those boys do out there at corner.”
2017 NFL Draft
Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27
Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday, April 28
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29
2017 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW: CORNERBACKS
What the analysts say: “Corner is a really, really deep group, even though we’ve had a couple of injuries at the position,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.
Chiefs’ need at this position: High. The Chiefs have no shortage of talented, young players they like here, led by two-time Pro Bowler Marcus Peters. Steven Nelson emerged as a reliable No. 2 corner, while Terrance Mitchell was a revelation in the nickel package. The Chiefs still have the talented Phillip Gaines, who has been plagued by injuries in Kansas City but is entering a contract year, and 2016 sixth-round pick D.J. White, who showed a knack for being around the ball. But you can never have enough corners in this league, and if Mitchell regresses and/or Gaines gets hurt again, the Chiefs could be short at a position where three players now play at least half the time in the new-age NFL. The Chiefs would be wise to invest a top 100 pick at this position.
OL: Pro day performance caps fun two days for Missouri Western’s Travis Anderson | rankings, to come
EDGE: K-State’s Jordan Willis has worked his way into first-round discussion | rankings, to come
ILB: K-State linebacker Elijah Lee is betting on himself in NFL Draft | rankings, to come
CB: Confident, deep crop of rookie corners should be enticing for Chiefs | rankings, to come
S: Pitt State’s Deron Washington carries on NFL dream for family | rankings, to come
Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org