One of the more intriguing competitions that will take place during training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs will be among the cornerbacks.
After losing starter Charvarius Ward to free agency this offseason, the team traded for former Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. and drafted Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, and Jaylen Watson in the first, fourth, and seventh rounds respectively. Package those guys in with the return of L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton, and the Chiefs need to hash out which corners will have large roles this upcoming season.
One player not mentioned yet that is also among the corners vying for a large role during the 2022 season is DeAndre Baker. He was named by Bleacher Report’s Jake Rill as one of the three Chiefs players that need to have an impressive training camp this summer if they want to make Kansas City’s 53-man roster at the end of camp.
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Baker Entering ’22 Season Backed by Momentum
As a former first-round pick of the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft, Baker was cut by the Giants in September of 2020 following him being prosecuted for robbery and gun charges earlier in the year. However, all gun charges were dropped against Baker in November of the same year, per ESPN. That sparked Kansas City signing him later in the month to its practice squad.
Baker played in a total of two games for the Chiefs during the 2020 season, according to Pro Football Reference. His season came to a halt when he suffered a broken leg in the team’s Week 17 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
During the 2021 season, Baker played eight games and started one of them. He recorded his highest PFF grade of the season in his lone start, which came in Week 4 during a win over the Philadelphia Eagles (74.9).
Entering 2022 training camp, Baker absolutely deserves a chance to win the starting cornerback duties opposite Sneed in the lineup. But as Rill detailed — it won’t be easy.
“It’s a crowded mix, and there will be quite a few corners needing to stand out in order to secure a roster spot,” Rill wrote on July 18. “Baker doesn’t have a proven track record, so he’ll be among that group. If a bunch of rookies perform well and others take up spots, Baker could be on the roster bubble later in camp.
Can Baker Win the Starting Job?
Although Baker’s experience in the NFL and in Kansas City’s system gives him a leg up over the rookies in the Chiefs’ cornerback room, he still faces an uphill battle to win the starting job.
McDuffie is still very talented despite being inexperienced in the NFL, which is why Kansas City traded up in the first round this year to get him. Fenton was PFF’s sixth-highest graded cornerback in the NFL last season (although he played only 422 coverage snaps), so he also has earned the opportunity to win the starting job after a successful 2021 campaign. That means Baker has a tough path toward winning a starting job with the Chiefs in 2022.
Rill is spot on with adding Baker to his list. He will likely have to play at a first-round level this summer if he wants to remain in Kansas City for a third consecutive season.