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Joshua Kaindoh hoping to earn a role with the Chiefs in 2021

After seeing the impact of fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed, the Chiefs hope Kaindoh can do the same.

Duke v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Yes, it’s already been three months since Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach completed his fourth NFL Draft.

And arguably, his most intriguing selection was Florida State’s Joshua Kaindoh.

Despite three straight AFC Championship Game appearances, a Super Bowl victory and consecutive Super Bowl appearances, some critics have still questioned Veach’s ability to draft. On the surface, it’s a fair criticism — but like anything in life, we need to add some context.

In Veach’s first draft class in 2018, he didn’t have a first-round pick; it had been traded to acquire Patrick Mahomes. In 2019, Veach traded it away to get Frank Clark. It wasn’t until his third draft that Veach finally drafted in the first round, selecting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

He reverted back to his old ways in 2021, trading his first-round pick for Pro Bowl offensive lineman Orlando Brown. It’s safe to say no one is complaining about that — especially quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

But for all the lack of star power in Veach’s previous draft classes, one player who immediately showed great promise was last year’s fourth-round pick: cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. The Louisiana Tech product totaled 41 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks and seven passes defensed — all in just nine games.

The Chiefs are hoping the fourth-round trend continues with Kaindoh this year. It’s not clear how many snaps he will get — but with his size and athletic ability, his upside is hard to ignore.

Nonetheless, Kaindoh understands he first needs to become a student of the game. Asked after Sunday’s practice about the number of sacks he expected to get during his rookie season, he delivered a mature response.

“Really just learning the playbook — and just earn my role on the team,” he told reporters.

Coming out of high school, Kaindoh was one of the most coveted players in the country. But the five-star recruit didn’t live up to expectations at Florida State, tallying just eight sacks during four years in Tallahassee.

The thought process is that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can bring the best out of him. In June, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said that Kaindoah reminded him of former Chiefs defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon — a player who didn’t really blossom until Spagnuolo took over the defense.

“He’s very long,” said Jones. “Very, very good athletic ability. He’s versatile. I think that’s a guy that in the future we’ll be able to move around along this line — once he gets his fundamentals down. He’s a very good listener.”

During OTAs, head coach Andy Reid said that Kaindoh brought a lot to the table.

“You’ve got a great work ethic — I mean tremendous work ethic,” said the head coach. “He’s very, very intelligent. He’s long. He’s a big human being — and he’s got long arms. He knows how to use them. He has ‘heavy hands,’ is what they’d say. Then it’s just a matter of him getting used to the scheme. He’s got a tremendous coach, so he’ll get all the fundamentals down and take it step-by-step — and eventually go use them.”

Kaindoh said he already likes how Spagnuolo is bringing him along.

“I feel like he’s been doing a good job helping us learn day-by-day,” he said. “He hasn’t been trying to rush things, you know. He’s been doing a good job trying to ease us in — you know, get us comfortable.”

Going up against the best quarterback in the world every day should help Kaindoh’s development, too.

“He’s just raw,” said Kaindoh of Mahomes. “Everything that people say about him is true — but it’s different to see it in person. He looks so poised and patient back there; he knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s some of the best I’ve ever seen in person, to be honest.”