Chiefs Day 3 draft pick puts the writing on the wall for veteran defender

The Kansas City Chiefs may be preparing to move on from safety Justin Reid after the 2024 NFL season.
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

While all of the pomp and circumstance of the NFL Draft surrounds the first round, it is often the mid-round picks that provide the depth and talent to separate teams from their opponents. While fans may want immediate impact starters, the reality is that prospects need time to develop and adjust to the professional level. That's why teams plan ahead — the players they draft now are meant to address positions of need in the future.

Due to their on-field success, the Kansas City Chiefs had the last pick in each round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Facing an uphill battle, general manager Brett Veach opted to trade up in the opening rounds to address offensive positions of need. Kansas City selected Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy with the No. 28 overall pick and BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia with the No. 63 overall pick.

Chiefs may be preparing to move on from Justin Reid

After addressing offensive needs in the early rounds, the Chiefs selected Washington State safety Jordan Hicks with the No. 133 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Safety wasn't a priority for Kansas City, but safety Justin Reid is set to be a free agent after the 2024 NFL season. The Chiefs may have trouble keeping Reid on their roster when roughly half of their 2025 salary cap space is invested in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, left guard Joe Thuney, and defensive tackle Chris Jones.

Reid signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Chiefs in 2022, and he has proven to be worth the investment. In 2023, Reid served as a versatile chess piece on the backend of a defense that allowed just 15.8 points per game, second-fewest in the league. Reid is just 27 years old, but his salary will likely be out of Kansas City's budget.

It's possible that Kansas City simply selected Hicks based on a value-based strategy that determined he was the best remaining player on the board. Although Hicks played safety at Washington State, former Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed was a safety too. Hicks could be converted to cornerback as well, especially after Sneed was traded to the Tennessee Titans after a career year in 2023.

Hicks has the versatility of a Swiss army knife, which makes him the ideal fit for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Hicks was able to line up deep and rotate to corner, line up in the box and bail deep, or even blitz off the edge. Those are all roles that Spagnuolo has asked his secondary players to play in exotic disguises or inverted Cover-2 looks.

In a press conference after the 2024 NFL Draft, Chiefs regional scout Greg Castillo said he was surprised that Hicks fell to Kansas City in the fourth round.

“He fell to us and I think with [Spagnuolo] and Donald [D’Alesio], they’re going to utilize his skill set very well," Castillo said. "He’s very versatile. He can play at the linebacker depth, he can play the deep middle free safety, he can play half, he can play quarters, and he did that at Washington State too. He can do a lot, and he can do a lot effectively. That’s what we’re looking for."

In 25 games over the past two seasons, Hicks recorded 155 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, 10 pass deflections, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

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