Throughout the past year, Brandon Flowers has regularly taken heat from the local media, and ESPN's Adam Teicher is among those who doubt if the corner is a "good fit" for Bob Sutton's defense.
Here's the thing: From 2009 to 2012, PFF annually graded No. 24 as a top-seven corner, and he looked every bit the part. In 2013, he dropped to No. 87 overall.
A lockdown defender doesn't lose his skills overnight. In Flowers' case, he fell victim to a perfect storm of season-long hurdles.
The defense switched from a predominately Cover 2 approach to a Cover 1 scheme. In essence, prior to 2013, Kansas City often deployed a variety coverages, from Cover 2 concepts to Cover 6 (quarter-quarter-half).
Flowers still played a healthy dose of man coverage (normally off-man), but more times than not, he was certain to have over-the-top safety support. That, in turn, allowed him to pounce on underneath routes, which utilized the most distinctive skill—anticipation—in the Pro Bowler's arsenal.
Last year, those trends and tendencies U-turned, as Flowers played more press-man and was seldom guaranteed safety help.
The problem? Kansas City's corner, while unquestionably physical (Wes Welker agrees), is 5'9", 187 pounds—five inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than someone like Dez Bryant, whom he was tasked with guarding man-to-man in Week 2. (For what it's worth, once the Chiefs began bracketing Bryant throughout the third quarter, Dallas' offense regressed to a shell of its former self.)
Furthermore, Kansas City's deep safeties (which excludes Eric Berry) were arguably the worst in the NFL— routinely biting the bait and getting torched on vertical routes—while its larger corners couldn't match the overall talent of most No. 1 receivers.
Also, a quarter (Week 3 through Week 7) of Flowers' season was spent combating a knee injury that stemmed from the Week 2 clinic authored by Bryant.
He was an undersized corner—with virtually no safety help—attempting to shield athletic trees, which is why he blanketed the likes of Welker and T.Y. Hilton but struggled against names like Bryant and Eric Decker.
Justin Gilbert is a soon-to-be rookie who fits Sutton's defense down to a T, but he'll be snatched off the board well before Kansas City is on the clock.
Due to that, and given Flowers' impressive track record, Sutton would be wise to see how 2014 pans out—being that the team will be upgraded at deep safety, and Marcus Cooper now has a year of pro experience—before making any rash decisions.
Fact or Fiction: Fiction