3 safeties Chiefs should target in 2024 NFL draft

The Chiefs currently have six safeties on their roster, but only two of them are under contract past this upcoming season.

Chamarri Conner has been a find for Kansas City after selecting him in the fourth round of this past year’s draft. The Chiefs’ only other safety under contract past the 2024 season is their second-round pick from 2022, Bryan Cook.

Justin Reid, Deon Bush, Trey Dean and Tyree Gillespie are all set to become free agents. Bush played more than 70% of his snaps on special teams in each of his two seasons with the Chiefs. He can provide a depth role at the position but not as a long-term option. Dean and Gillespie have a combined 13 snaps played on defense in their careers. 

The Chiefs need to add talent and depth at the position with Cook returning from an ugly looking ankle injury that he suffered last year against the Packers and could have some bumps in the road in his return to play. 

Here are three safeties the Chiefs could target early in the draft. 

Cooper DeJean, Iowa, CB/FS

Measurables: 6-foot-1 | 203 pounds | 31-inch arms | 6-foot-3 wingspan | 9.5-inch hands

DeJean is predicted to get drafted anywhere between the middle of the first round to the late first round. He’s viewed by many as a cornerback prospect but should be a better safety at the NFL level. His dynamic ability should lead the Chiefs to consider a move up in the draft if he lasts until the mid-20s in the first round.

DeJean excels in zone as he plays the quarterback’s eyes, understands the coverage and is explosive to the ball with proper angles. His ability to also play the cornerback position will benefit him at the next level when tasked with covering receivers as he stays in the hip pocket on “go” routes, is smooth in man-bail coverage and good in press jam when he’s not tipping his hand.

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The biggest flaws in his game come from when he’s playing the cornerback position solely. He routinely gets his hands around the waist of receivers at the top of routes. DeJean struggles with outs, comebacks and stops when running in stride with receivers. Lastly, he can get stuck on tight end blocks in space due to short arms. 

Tyler Nubin, Minnesota, FS

Measurables: 6-foot-1 | 199 pounds | 32-inch arms | 6-foot-5.5 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Nubin is expected to get drafted late in the first round to the middle of the second round. The Chiefs could have an opportunity to wait at pick No. 32 and select their free safety of the future. 

Nubin is highly-communicative, has great backside pursuit and takes great angles to the ball. His growth from 2021 to 2023 was surprising to see. Nubin sees the blueprint of the offense and understands what’s going to unfold around him. He wisely leverages the sideline as an extra defender and flies up to attack the hole or block in the running game.

Nubin can be conservative on RPOs and fakes as he focuses on maintaining position and protection on the back end from any busted coverage in front of him. He’ll also tend to be too physical against opponents at the top of routes. 

Javon Bullard, Georgia, FS

Measurables: 5-foot-11 | 198 pounds | 31-inch arms – 6-foot-2 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Kansas City could either make a trade and drop back into the second round and still be able to secure Bullard. If they want to focus on other needs at pick No. 32, they could hope that Bullard lasts until their next pick at No. 64 as he’s predicted to go somewhere between the second and third rounds.

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Bullard flies in pursuit versus the pass and lays the big hit. He understands his assignments, avoids blocks or takes them on violently with the ability to quickly shed. Bullard picks up receivers out of the slot and runs with them well in coverage.

When he’s off the line, Bullard can open his hips wrong and chooses to ride it out instead of flipping back into position, providing a big window for the quarterback. Similar to DeJean he has short arms and can get caught on blocks, giving up massive yards behind him. Bullard needs to sharpen his angles in pursuit of ball carriers. 

What will the Chiefs do?

DeJean is most likely to be gone before the Chiefs have an opportunity to make a serious play for him. Bullard has the talent and ability to flourish in the NFL but has several flaws that the top two safeties don’t have.

Kansas City would be wise to stay at pick No. 32 and allow Nubin to fall in their lap. He’ll become the quarterback of the Chiefs’ defense within three years, like a Xavier McKinney-type safety who can be the designated “green-dot” player, receiving communications from the sideline and ensuring everyone is lined up right in front of him.

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