Chiefs turn to USC DB Leon McQuay III in sixth round

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs selected USC defensive back Leon McQuay III in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft, adding depth to one of the team’s seemingly more solid position groups.

The Chiefs selected USC safety Leon McQuay III in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft.
The Chiefs selected USC safety Leon McQuay III in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

McQuay played mostly safety at USC, but Chiefs area scout Trey Koziol envisions him slipping into more of a cornerback role in Kansas City.

“I think we’re kind of looking at him more as a corner, possibly as a nickel,” Koziol said. “Off of some of the tape that you saw at SC, just the movement skills, the hips, the athleticism,  the speed, the length, I think that right now primarily that’s what we’re looking at him as.”

McQuay originally came to  said his role at USC called for him to play a lot of man coverage, including covering the slot receiver. He’s comfortable making the transition to corner.

“I feel like I’m ready to,” McQuay said. “Just whatever the coaches need me at, I’m open to anything.”

Koziol said McQuay’s athleticism is what stands out on tape.

“His strength is his length, speed,” Koziol said. “He’s got really good hips for a guy who’s 6-1. He’s a tremendous athlete.”

McQuay recorded 50 total tackles with four for a loss including one sack during his senior season. He also picked off two passes, broke up six others and recorded eight passes defended. He intercepted five passes and defended 17 total in his four-year college career.

The 6-1, 195-pound McQuayd did not attend the NFL’s scouting combine. He did record a broad jump of 10-feet-2-inches and a vertical jump of 33 inches during the USC pro day. Koziol said McQuay runs the 40-yard dash in the mid-4.4s.

Following a strong sophomore campaign, McQuay took a step back as a junior, starting just two games before a knee injury kept him out of three late season games.

Former Chiefs defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast helped recruit McQuay to USC. Pendergast left in 2014 for the linebackers coach role with the San Francisco 49ers, but returned to USC as defensive coordinator last season.

“I think when coach Clancy Pendergast came back in, he felt very comfortable in his defense, and he was very familiar with Leon,” Koziol said. “He was one of the guys that recruited Leon when he first came in, and they were able to find another role to put him in this year too.”

Koziol added that McQuay’s biggest area of improvement is with his footwork.

“If you were ask him,I think he can improve some of his footwork, especially in transition to corner,” Koziol said.

McQuay majored in music industry at USC and his produced his own music tracks. His grandfather, Leon McQuay, played three seasons in the NFL from 1974-76 as a running back and kick returner for the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints in addition to a stint in the Canadian Football League.


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.