Chiefs’ Playoff Hero Named KC’s ‘Best-Kept Secret’

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson.

The Kansas City Chiefs have their fair share of hidden talent throughout their roster. That’s part of why the team was able to win a championship during the 2022 season despite significant turnover the offseason prior, and why they are positioned to potentially win it all again next season.

But who is Kansas City’s best-kept secret? According to Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, that title belongs to second-year cornerback, Jaylen Watson.

“General manager Brett Veach has managed to build a defense chock full of draft picks that have worked out. Finding guys like Jaylen Watson in the seventh round is a big reason why,” Ballentine wrote in a May 21 article in which he named each NFL teams’ best-kept secret.

“Most seventh-round picks are just fortunate to make the roster as a rookie. Watson didn’t just do that, he recorded two interceptions in the Chiefs’ postseason run to another Lombardi Trophy.”

Jaylen Watson Continues Chiefs’ Streak of Cornerback Development

Jaylen Watson, 24, was the 234th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. It didn’t take long for the Day 3 prospect to earn a significant role on Kansas City’s defense, as he played 51 percent of the team’s defensive snaps during the 2022 regular season opener against the Arizona Cardinals according to Pro Football Reference.

Watson went on to play 56 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps in the 16 regular season games he played last season. With those snaps, he registered 39 tackles, 8 stops, 2 pass breakups, and 1 interception, which was a 99-yard pick-six, according to PFF.

Though Watson’s regular season efforts were remarkable given his draft status just several months prior, his postseason performance was the cherry on top of a spectacular season for the rookie.

In three playoff games, Watson recorded 2 interceptions — which came while facing Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow — and also had 10 tackles.

Overall, Watson’s production during his first season in the NFL was a welcomed surprise for Chiefs Kingdom. His rookie season also displayed yet again how good Kansas City is at drafting and developing talent at the cornerback position.

Current State of Kansas City’s Cornerback Room

As it stands, Kansas City’s cornerback room consists of L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams, Chamarri Conner, Nic Jones, DiCaprio Bootle, Lamar Jackson, Anthony Witherstone, Reese Taylor, Isaiah Norman, Kahlef Hailassie, and Ekow Boye-Doe.

Sneed, McDuffie, Watson, and Williams are locks to make the 2023 regular season roster. Conner and Jones, who were drafted in the fourth and seventh rounds respectively in April, are strong candidates to make the regular season roster unless they fall flat on their faces this summer.

So, that leaves no spots on the active roster for the other seven cornerbacks remaining, which means they could be fighting for a practice squad spot or a roster spot elsewhere come September unless they excel this summer and push someone else off of the Chiefs’ active roster.

Next up on Kansas City’s offseason schedule are organized team activities (OTAs), which will take place from May 22 to May 24, May 30 to June 1, and June 6 to June 9. From there, the team will meet for mandatory minicamp from June 13 to June 15 before dispersing for summer break.

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