Chiefs trade up for 3rd time, add to secondary with Virginia Tech safety

Chamarri Conner
Posted at 1:07 PM, Apr 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-29 14:08:47-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After holding onto its first-round pick as the 2023 NFL Draft opened Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs moved up for the third straight time in making their first pick Saturday in the fourth round.

The Chiefs were slated to pick 134th in the first round, but swapped fourth-round picks with Minnesota and also gave up next year’s fifth-round pick to move up 15 spots.

Kansas City then added depth in the secondary, selecting Virginia Tech safety Chamarri Conner with the 119th overall pick in the fourth round.

He played five seasons with the Hokies, including four as the starting safety. As a fifth-year senior, Conner shifted to nickel for much of the season, showing versatility that Kansas City covets on defense.

“He was asked to do a lot of things, play a lot of positions at Virginia Tech, so just his versatility,” area scout Anthony McGee said. “He will play any position that you need to in the back end and he just brings size, speed, burst, everything, so I just love the way he plays and (he’s) a guy that will want to do anything and everything for the team.”

Conner said he’s played multiple positions since high school.

“From corner to safety to nickel, I’ve always been able to move around and that moved into my college career as well just being able to move around and be that guy, if needed somebody to do any job, that’s something I’ve been doing for a minute,” Conner said.

He said he enjoys studying Arizona safety Budda Baker.

“Over the last couple years, he’s been one of my favorite players,” Conner said. "The way he flies around and make plays and is just always around the ball, that really always stood out to me. I always wanted to be that kind of player.”

Conner, a 6-foot and 205-pound prospect, ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with a 1.56 10-yard split, and a 40 1/2-inch vertical.

“Versatility is gonna be a big thing in our defense, especially someone that can hop in the nickel, because that's a daunting task for a defender,” McGee said. “If you find someone that can fluidly and consistently play the nickel and be comfortable at it, I think Coach Spags loves a guy like that. So, we just look for that versatility and we try to cherish it and see if we could try and bring them in.”

Despite lacking elite top-end speed, he shows good ball skills and diagnoses plays well, which isn’t surprising given his extensive collegiate experience — 61 games, including 48 starts.

Conner totaled 314 tackles, including 21 for a loss with 7 1/2 sacks, at Virginia Tech. He also had 23 passes defended with four interceptions and four sacks in his career.

McGee said Kansas City also envisions a significant special-teams role for Conner, who played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

“I take so much pride in special teams,” Conner said. “Special teams was how I earned my name at Virginia Tech.”

Kansas City also traded up twice on Friday, going up eight spots for SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice in the second round and going up three spots for Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris in the third round.

Currently, the Chiefs still have four picks Saturday — one in the fifth (No. 166), two in the sixth (Nos. 178 and 194) and one in the seventh (No. 250).