Chiefs Predicted to Replace L’Jarius Sneed With ‘Tailor-Made’ CB Fit

Chiefs predicted to replace L'Jarius Sneed with Ennis Rakestraw ahead of NFL draft.

Getty Should the Kansas City Chiefs attempt to replace star cornerback L'Jarius Sneed in the 2024 NFL Draft?

The Kansas City Chiefs traded star cornerback L’Jarius Sneed — in part — because they have a bevy of young and talented depth on the roster at his position.

Having said that, this CB group’s ceiling is debatable. Outside of 2023 All-Pro Trent McDuffie, will any of the other KC cornerbacks develop into a player that’s as good or better than Sneed?

It’s possible, but $76 million defensive backs don’t grow on trees, and the Chiefs could elect to hedge their bets and add one more premium prospect in the secondary just in case the other options don’t pan out. That was the theory of ESPN NFL insider Field Yates during his official two-round mock draft on April 3.

Yates predicted that Kansas City would select Missouri product Ennis Rakestraw Jr. at No. 32 overall, reasoning: “I’m not sure any other team has a better recent track record of drafting cornerbacks than the Chiefs, but after the trade of L’Jarius Sneed, there’s a bit of a gap in the overall depth of the unit on the perimeter.”

“Rakestraw is a tailor-made fit for this roster, as he plays with an edge, similar to Sneed,” the ESPN insider continued. “Few corners can impose their will on a game like Rakestraw did at the collegiate level; that will travel to the pros.”

Although Yates acknowledged that either wide receiver or offensive tackle could be an alternative route for the Chiefs in round one, he also advised that “it might be best to wait until Day 2” at those positions after a potential early run on each over the first 31 picks.

Yates wasn’t the only insider with this idea, Associated Press senior NFL insider Rob Maaddi also mocked Rakestraw to KC at 32 on March 29, noting that he “fits an immediate need.”

Potential Chiefs Target Ennis Rakestraw Jr. Plays With ‘Good Physicality’ & Length

There’s a reason Yates and Maaddi both like the Missouri product as Sneed’s successor. He’s a carbon copy of him in terms of play style.

NFL Network draft expert Lance Zierlein stated that Rakestraw brings “good physicality and a competitive tilt” to the table as a prospect.

Elaborating: “He’s strong but not as big or fast as teams usually like when picking within the first three rounds of the draft. However, he’s hard-nosed in press and has the body control and anticipation to play a sticky brand of man coverage over the first two levels.”

Similarly, Bleacher Report scout Cory Giddings relayed that “Rakestraw uses his physicality and length to his advantage” as a pass defender.

“He does a very good job of using his lateral movement skills to mirror and his long arms to control receivers in press,” Giddings went on. “Rakestraw likes to get hands-on and disrupt routes as he works down the field. He has the fluidity to sink his hips and the foot quickness to transition out of breaks.”

Sound familiar? This is the exact brand of football that turned Sneed into a top-tier CB. Perhaps, the Chiefs can find a similar athlete in Rakestraw.

Ennis Rakestraw Jr. Has Areas Where He Must Improve Before Becoming L’Jarius Sneed

It goes without saying that Rakestraw probably wouldn’t take over for Sneed without missing a beat. The Chiefs don’t have a top-10 selection in this draft, and it’s rare that a rookie steps onto the NFL scene and makes an immediate impact.

“Rakestraw is a skillful cornerback who has a lot of tools to work with,” Giddings first praised before making it clear that he’s no finished product.

“He will need to continue to work on his overall strength and sharpen his technique up for the NFL,” the scout admitted. Adding: “[Rakestraw] should serve as immediate depth, but he could find his way onto the field as a starter within a few years into his NFL career.”

Zierlein echoed that timeline during his scouting report, predicting “eventual starter potential in the right scheme.”

He also quoted an NFC regional scout, who said: “I just don’t know how he’s going to run. You can mix and match him in coverages, but I think there will be some man matchups that are going to be tough for him.”