Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Starters: (CB) Brandon Flowers, (CB) Sean Smith, (FS) Sanders Commings, (SS) Eric Berry
Backups: (CB) Marcus Cooper, (CB) Phillip Gaines, (CB) Chris Owens, (S) Husain Abdullah, (S) Jerron McMillian
Following the theme of early-round surprises, K.C. grabbed Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines with its third-round selection. The secondary had long been thought to be a major focal point for the Chiefs in this draft, but most assumed that focus would fall on the safety position, not corner.
Against two receivers or fewer, there wasn't much of an issue with starters Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith in 2013.
Flowers struggled with consistency at times, but his efforts were still enough to earn a Pro-Bowl bid. Smith wasn't exactly a slouch on the other side of the field either, proving to be a solid pick-up in his first year in Kansas City.
But, it was only a matter of time until AFC offensive coordinators realized that the Chiefs' lacked any capable CBs outside of their first two.
As the year progressed, three-receiver sets became an increasingly common inconvenience for Kansas City. Rookie Marcus Cooper initially lined up at nickel in these formations—he was swiftly identified as the unit's weak link, clearly ill-prepared for a starting role in his first season.
He was still voted as the Chiefs' "Rookie of the Year" at their postseason awards ceremony, but in 2013, that was comparable to being honored as "Best Drinker" on BYU's campus.
Cooper is a converted wideout who should return much improved after accumulating a season's worth of in-game experience at the position. As bad as he was at times, he could be just that good at others. If he can find a reasonable balance play with more consistency, he should have the inside track for Kansas City's third corner slot.
In these nickel formations, look for Cooper to cover the outside, while Flowers moves inward to handle the slot.
Gaines may see work in a Ron Parker-type capacity, but he won't be thrown into the fire before he's ready, as Cooper was last season.
Things seem to be on the upswing at cornerback, but, as it was before the draft, the most concerning area within the secondary remains at free safety.
The Chiefs' injury-prone fifth-round draft pick in 2013, Sanders Commings, is a popular choice to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Kendrick Lewis. He has prototypical safety size and athleticism, while boasting the mitts of a wideout.
But, he's also never seen a meaningful NFL snap, didn't play the position in college, and has drawn some concerns regarding his character. His effectiveness as the lone deep man in Sutton's Cover 1 hasn't yet been measured, and how he complements Pro Bowl strong safety Eric Berry remains to be seen.
Not adding competition to push Sanders' progression and possibly challenge him for a job is a questionable approach at best.
Husain Abdullah was one of only two Kansas City free agents that Dorsey chose to bring back this offseason, but his status as primarily a role player is more or less again cemented for 2014.
He was impressive in a limited role last season and should see a healthy amount of time at free safety as well—but it won't be as a starter. Barring any unforeseen developments, Commings should enter the season as Sutton's No. 1.