The Kansas City Chiefs used half of their 10 selections in last weekend’s draft on defensive backs. First-round cornerback Trent McDuffie of Washington and second-round safety Bryan Cook of Cincinnati discussed joining the team with local media just before Saturday’s practice at this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
Both players talked about their transition to the team — as well as the importance of being versatile with different roles.
“There’s definitely an obligation to come in here and do my best,” McDuffie stated. “Personally for me, I’m just coming in here to be the best teammate I can be. Learn the installs and kind of just do what (Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve) Spagnuolo and (defensive backs coach Dave) Merritt want me to do. So I can go out there and produce the way they want me to.”
Cook also appreciated the early opportunity to work with his new coaches.
“It’s like you’re back being a freshman — just trying to figure it out,” Cook noted. “But I have great coaches, great teammates helping me out. So I’m just looking forward to each and every day getting better. Soaking up all the information from the coaches and teammates — so I can be the best ‘sponge’ I can be — that’s successful in my eyes.”
Both players also touched upon their first task — learning their new team’s playbook.
“I love it — we get to do a lot of unique things,” McDuffie observed. “Especially coming from U Dub (University of Washington), there’s kind of some similar things here and there so I’m able to pick up on it a little bit easier. As of right now, I really like the playbook.”
Cook simply sees learning the playbook as the task before him, taking a doing his job mentality.
“I think you’re trying to go more deeper than it actually is,” Cook responded. “It’s ‘here’s a playbook, I’ve got to learn it.’ There’s no real expectations. I just stay focused and take each day as it comes.”
Although Chiefs coach Andy Reid previously said McDuffie would slide in as a boundary corner, the rookie confirmed he is currently working on both outside and nickel roles.
“Right now I’m learning corner and nickel,” McDuffie said, “Kind of just trying to learn both positions. Go out there and try it out.”
Cook, who played cornerback at Howard University before converting to safety upon transferring to Cincinnati, knows the importance of learning different positions, especially for a mental understanding of the game.
“Being patient as a corner is very key,” he expained. “If you get a chance to be a safety, it helps even more. Especially with making calls and calling checks. As well as ‘next play mentality.’ We’ve seen great receivers in this league — they’re going to score points, make good catches, and things like that. I think that being able to get a ‘next play mentality’ is definitely something.”
In their first appearance before team media, both players took the opportunity to address minor concerns raised in the draft process.
McDuffie pays no attention to the narrative that his stature and arm length — notably smaller than usual for top rated cornerbacks — will impact his play, namedropping a recently departed Chiefs legend as an example.
“I do not listen to any of that,” he declared. “You guys know (former Chiefs safety) Tyrann Mathieu. Not a very big guy — but we make plays. That’s something that I go onto the field every day knowing that I want to be that guy — I call it the spark guy. The guy you always see flashing on the screen here and there. Just all out effort.
“That’s what I can control is my effort. Just being able to control that and showing the coaches that I’m going to run around all over the field with my hair on fire each down is something that I’m going to put on tape.”
Before the players remarks, Cook was reported to be limited in the weekend’s practices because of a shoulder injury.
“I’m on the field until they tell me not to be,” Cook said of the injury. “I’m going to do what they let me do and try to make the most of it. That’s all I can do.”
With 10 total picks, this year’s Chiefs draft class has the potential to develop into a large part of the team’s core for the next few seasons. McDuffie appreciates the opportunity to set the tone for the team going forward.
“This class definitely came in trying to prove a point,” McDuffie said of the group. “Everybody is very confident. Everybody is kind of a brotherhood already. It kind of felt like I’ve already known these guys for a while — and I just met them the other day. They’re very unique and they’re just willing to do the dirty work. Which is something I know I can do, and I love to be a part of that.”