Chiefs’ 2nd-Year Defender Emerging as Team Leader

Bryan Cook

Getty Kansas City Chiefs safety Bryan Cook ahead of the 2023 Super Bowl.

The Kansas City Chiefs have overhauled their defense in 2022 and 2023.

Over the past two offseasons, general manager Brett Veach has drafted 12 players on the defensive side of the ball, not to mention five or so key veteran signings and one or two undrafted prospects that have earned a roster spot. The emphasis on younger defenders has recreated the KC secondary and revitalized other crucial areas of the roster.

These changes don’t even include 2021 second-round pick Nick Bolton, who has become the most important piece on the defense behind Chris Jones. As Bolton did, the Chiefs will look for new team leaders to begin emerging as this unit continues to grow, and one player that’s starting to fit that mold is second-year safety Bryan Cook.

Chiefs’ Nick Bolton Talks Up Bryan Cook at OTAs

During a press conference live from Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on May 24, Bolton talked about Cook and how he’s beginning to take on a more vocal leadership role in practice.

“Ever since he was a rookie, I could tell he has a confidence about him, [the] ability just to talk,” Bolton told reporters, joking: “[Even] if he’s 100% wrong, he makes you believe he’s 100% right.”

“So, that’s the confidence you need to have in the back end and we’re loving that,” the KC linebacker went on. “So, he’s growing. You can tell he’s put a lot of work in the offseason, Phase 1, Phase 2 and now leading into this Phase 3. Being able to echo calls, get guys lined up and even if we’re trying to show something we’re doing wrong, he’ll make sure we know about it.”

Bolton concluded that “we love that” — noting that the “we” includes fellow veteran linebacker Willie Gay Jr. “We love the competition he brings.”

There have often been leaders on the back end of Chiefs defenses under D-coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Tyrann Mathieu held that honor for years before passing the torch to Justin Reid and Juan Thornhill in 2022. Now, with Thornhill gone, Cook appears poised to step up as a rising team leader in 2023.

Chiefs Rookie DB Chamarri Conner Could Battle Deon Bush for Week 1 Roster Spot

With the addition of veteran safety Mike Edwards behind Reid and Cook, the assumption is that rookie DB Chamarri Conner will battle veteran special teams ace Deon Bush for a Week 1 roster spot. USA Today Chiefs Wire media member Charles Goldman detailed this potential training camp competition on May 18.

“The Chiefs typically carry just four safeties during the regular season and that could spell bad news for Bush,” Goldman explained. “With Justin Reid, Bryan Cook and Mike Edwards considered locks for the 53-man roster, that could put fourth-round pick Chamarri Conner in direct competition with Bush for the No. 4 safety spot.”

“Not only did he seem to be a favorite of Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo, but Conner is also a noted special teams ace,” Goldman added, “with multiphase capability and production on kick and punt block units.”

Based on this assessment, Bush could be hard-pressed to make the Week 1 roster in 2023. The veteran earned a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City earlier this winter.

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