Rashad Fenton’s success is a testament to the entire KC Chiefs organization

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The NFL Draft is often called in terms of the game. The picks are a toss-up. The players are either a boom or a bust. The whole thing is full of risks. This kind of language may be true on the surface, but it also leads to a greater feeling that everything is more about luck than anything else – that some teams just hit it off while others don’t. In the case of Rashad Fenton, it is a great injustice to the player and his employer, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs selected Fenton in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft to applause from … no one. Not a single soul was too excited about the pick at the time, mainly because Fenton’s pre-draft ratings were nothing to write home about. In fact, it was predicted that Fenton wouldn’t be drafted in all seven rounds by just about any recruiter or analyst online with a platform. (See Matt Miller of Bleacher Report or Lance Zierlein of the official league site or Dane Brugler of The Athletic or Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network.)

When the Chiefs wrote Fenton’s name on a draft card, even at the end of round six, it was immediately seen as a little difficult and called their worst choice by draft graders after the fact. Most of us, if we’re being honest, were more excited about undrafted free agent Mark Fields than we were with Fenton back then. That’s how overlooked Fenton was in a draft class anchored by Mecole Hardman’s selection and Frank Clark’s trade.

Rashad Fenton’s success reflects well all aspects of the chef organization.

At the start of his rookie year, Fenton was drafted to compete for a rotating corner role behind Kendall Fuller, Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland. Keith Reaser was also on the roster to accompany Fields, Fenton and Tremon Smith, although he was more than just another returning player. The best thing Fenton had going for him was solid, well-balanced play and tremendous experience averaging almost 600 shots / year during his career in South Carolina. The Gamecocks made sure their defensive backs were versatile and the Chiefs felt he was ready for the pros because of it.

Fenton cleared his first major hurdle in September when he was on the team’s active roster outside of training camp. He went on to appear in 12 games that season and played almost 20% of all defensive snaps. In 2020, Fenton made a significant jump in playing time to 49% defensive snaps while appearing in all 16 games. He totaled 35 tackles, 7 deflected passes and 1 interception for the Chiefs in 20.

This year, Fenton has really taken the leap in a way that no one saw coming. Although the sample size is a bit smaller than the league’s well-known corners, Fenton has still played in 60% of games this season and stops opposing receivers inside for a Chiefs defense that takes life.

For a player described in scouting reports as “gripping” or “stiff” or “worked” or “prone to errors,” Fenton looks good these days. Turns out his wrestling issues have been eased and his hips are a bit smoother than some people thought. His lack of top speed (4.52 seconds into the 40-yard dash) isn’t an issue with how the Chiefs use him and he’s quick and long enough to be a big plus in the game. defense of Steve Spagnuoo.

Considering his success, Fenton is the perfect type of pick that gives every aspect of the Chiefs’ organization huge credit.

The Front Office

For the front office, Fenton is exactly the kind of gamer you’re supposed to ignore. There were players, even at the end of the sixth, with higher potential. There were prospects with more intriguing measurables or a curious skill set with a few exemplary traits that should have caught Brett Veach’s interest instead. Fenton was a known quantity, a player with a discernible floor and ceiling with tons of playing stripes against the SEC competition. In short, there was no reason to believe that Fenton could do more than he already had, as he had had plenty of opportunities to show it at the highest level of college football.

Instead of even waiting for him in free agency after the draft or waiting for the sixth, there were “sayings” in the bosses’ front office that made someone believe that Fenton could be something that anybody else has seen this offseason. No one was beating the drums for Fenton, but the Chiefs’ scouts still heard a beat.

By the end of the draft, the Chiefs needed a corner and someone – an area scout most likely – went out to fight for ‘his guy’. And given that the Chiefs’ front office is in sync, a room marked by shared trust, Veach was able to follow his intuition and turn to Fenton before anyone else. And they’ve enjoyed the loot ever since.

The coaching team

If Fenton was what the scout reports said he would be when he arrived in Kansas City, we have to give credit to the Chiefs’ coaching staff as well. Steve Spagnuolo remade all the staff on that side of the ball after arriving in 2019, which meant bringing in Sam Madison and Dave Merritt to lead the defensive backs.

Not only have coaches tried to get Fenton on rotation in the majority of his games in 2019, he looked ready for more opportunities every year. This season he has made several big plays in a game that is no longer too big for him. It earns starter minutes for a Super Bowl champion and makes those who pay attention to it week after week believe it. Now the whole work speaks for itself, which puts Fenton on the bigger map.

These coaches deserve credit for helping teach and challenge Fenton thus far.

The player

More than anyone else, Fenton’s success is a testament to the kind of player he is. He’s obviously gifted with formidable athleticism and a skill set, but that’s true of anyone who wins representatives in the National Football League. From there, Fenton clearly refused to believe the labels applied to him and set to work earning the trust of his coaches and improving his craft as much as possible.

Most sixth-round picks are struggling to stay in the NFL, but now it looks like Fenton could be the kind of corner who needs a long-term extension soon enough. He’s a starting-caliber passing defenseman with a penchant for making big plays, and he’s proving everyone wrong in the process.

The Chiefs should be excited about what they see of Fenton, but they should also know that they are part of the story there. Fenton was a revelation in 2021 and it reflects very well on the whole organization.

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