On the mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, we were asked if cornerback L’Jarius Sneed is the most valuable rookie from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2020 draft class. With all due respect to running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who’s having an outstanding start to his career), the answer is yes.
The Chiefs are now one game away from veteran cornerback Bashaud Breeland returning from a four-game suspension. Their plan to navigate his loss — during a stretch that included what was supposed to be a tough game against the Baltimore Ravens — was to go with a bunch of young, inexperienced cornerbacks and give them an opportunity to prove themselves. As the most experienced of the bunch (with a little over a full season of starts) Charvarius Ward would be the anchor. Starting opposite Ward would be Sneed, second-year player Rashad Fenton or special-teams ace Antonio Hamilton.
Sneed got the first crack to start opposite Ward — and didn’t let go. Through the first three games of the season, he has been the Chiefs’ best cornerback. When the Chiefs lost Ward for Week 2, Sneed stepped up to get his second interception of the season.
His athletic profile has always been apparent — and his ball skills have proved to be better than any corner on the roster last year. His instincts have surprised many. When a play broke down on Monday, he put himself in position to grab his third interception by running from the other side of the field; that he got his hands on the ball was impressive.
Unfortunately, Sneed was injured while diving for the interception; he could miss some serious time. That loss will be felt in Week 4 against the New England Patriots — although Ward’s return on Monday night will certainly help.
But just imagine where the Chiefs would be without Sneed. He has two of the Chiefs’ three turnovers. He’s been crucial in the team’s ability to weather the storm of suspension and injury that in Week 2 forced the Chiefs to play without both cornerbacks who started Super Bowl LIV.
At a time when the Chiefs needed help in their secondary, Sneed has been one of the league’s best rookie cornerbacks. To this point, the fourth-round pick has definitely been their most valuable rookie.
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