Evaluating Potential Kansas City Chiefs Draft Picks: Calvin Pryor
Opposing offensive coordinators attempted to hold back their grins. Their quarterbacks got happy feet waiting to get the ball in their hands. Yes, for much of the 2013-14 season, this was the reaction to the Kansas City Chiefs running a Cover-1 with free safety Kendrick Lewis the lone deep man.
Lewis and his 4.73 40-yard dash time was simply unable to cover large ranges of space on the field. It came back to bite Kansas City, particularly in the second half of the season. They visibly regressed over the final eight games of the season, becoming one of the most incapable defenses in the league following a hot start. The secondary, especially Lewis, was the main culprit.
As an impending free agent, one would assume the Chiefs won’t make an attempt to re-sign after Lewis’ four years in Kansas City. As things currently stand, corner-turned-safety Sanders Comings, injured for nearly all of 2013-14, seems primed to take over his duties.
But Commings is far from a sure thing and GM John Dorsey will surely attempt to fill the void via free agency or the 2014 NFL Draft. If Dorsey chooses to look to the draft, assuming Alabama‘s Ha Ha Clinton Dix has already been grabbed, Louisville‘s Calvin Pryor should be their primary target.
At 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, Pryor owns a prototypical safety frame. Likely the draft’s hardest hitter at the position, he forces smaller receivers to think twice before executing quick slants across the middle. He’s much faster and quicker than Lewis — he runs a 4.57 40-yard dash — and zone coverage is his forte. Great instincts with a nose for action, Pryor always seems to be involved in the play one way or another.
Little-to-no experience in man coverage. While his aggressiveness can be good in doses, he tends to forget his first job as safety is to be the safety net. Still, both issues are extremely coachable and shouldn’t be of great concern to the Chiefs’ front office.
Current NFL Player Comparison:
It’s hard not to notice several similarities to Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Both play with an extremely high level of energy, are imposing tacklers and are capable of manning deep coverage. Pryor is a hair smaller, but is also quicker and able to cover more field than his pro doppelganger. Chancellor’s reputation as the NFL‘s hardest-hitting safety could be taken by Pryor in a couple years time.
How he’d fit in Kansas City:
A Pryor and Eric Berry combination could challenge consensus-best duo Chancellor and Earl Thomas for top dogs at safety. DC Bob Sutton would be enabled to return to using his free safety as his deep man in Cover-1, and do it with confidence. He’s excels at containing tight ends, which would be a plus when facing the Denver Broncos‘ Julius Thomas. Pryor plays with a sense of reckless abandon and would provide the stability and football IQ that the Kansas City secondary lacked in 2013-14. He’d certainly be a Week 1 starter for Sutton.