If you’ve watched any Chiefs games over the past couple of seasons, you know just how important Eric Berry has the potential to be for the Kansas City defense this year. Just how important? Tony Moss put together his list of five defensive backs playing on a new team that are most important to their team with Berry on the top. He was just ahead of Dunta Robinson and fellow-rookie Earl Thomas.
Logic dictated that the Chiefs were going to draft Berry No. 5 overall when they were on the clock this past April, but since this was the same team that shocked the world by selecting Tyson Jackson third the year before, and there were audible whispers that GM Scott Pioli wasn’t fond of taking safeties early, all bets were off. Ultimately, though, Berry was such a can’t-miss prospect that Pioli resisted the temptation to over-think things.
Like Thomas, Berry has the versatility to line up anywhere in the secondary, though he projects long-term as a playmaking safety in the Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu mold. Like Polamalu, the 5-11, 200-pound Berry is a fearsome hitter. Like Reed, Berry is a menace when he gets the ball in his hands, and could help out on returns in addition to his work on defense. Wherever new coordinator Romeo Crennel chooses to line him up, Berry is already the face of a Kansas City unit that will be looking to far surpass its 2009 rank of 30th in NFL total defense.
I won’t argue with Moss that Berry will need to be the face of the defense this year as they look to turn the corner along with the rest of the team. But as much as Berry wants to help the team as much as possible, he won’t be catching any punts or kicks.
Berry can best help the Chiefs if he is completely focused on his role in the defensive backfield. If Kansas City hadn’t drafted Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster, you might have see the Chiefs look to Berry in order to salvage the return game as well as the defense, but even then the odds wouldn’t be great.
The defense has a lot of work to do if the Chiefs plan on taking a legitimate step forward and it will all start with Berry running the show from day one of training camp.