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Arrowheadlines: The Chiefs' defensive rookies could shape the NFL season

Chiefs headlines for Tuesday, June 28

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

Chiefs defensive rookies: CB Trent McDuffie, OLB George Karlaftis, S Bryan Cook, and LB Leo Chenal | The Ringer

OK, so I cheated here by picking four players, but give me a break. It’s been a long offseason.

After using free agency to reshape its offense, Kansas City spent its draft capital on the defense. The Chiefs added McDuffie, an undersized corner out of Washington, and George Karlaftis, a high-effort edge rusher from Purdue, on Day 1 , then took Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook and Wisconsin lineback Leo Chenal on Day 2. Given the current state of the defensive depth chart, all four should play significant snaps in 2022.

If I had to rank those four in order of their importance to Kansas City’s success this season, Karlaftis would be at the top of the list. Karlaftis is the most obvious replacement for Melvin Ingram, whose presence last season allowed Chris Jones to play more snaps inside, where he’s at his most disruptive. If the rookie isn’t ready to contribute, the defense could struggle in the same ways it did early last season. But, really, Kansas City needs at least two of these guys to play well if the defense is going to finish in the top half of the league, as it did during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2019.

Surprise offseason standouts for all 32 NFL teams: Under-the-radar players to know from minicamp workouts | ESPN

Kansas City Chiefs

S Juan Thornhill

Thornhill is healthy perhaps for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee as a rookie in 2019 and was impressive during offseason workouts. The Chiefs will ask more of him now that Tyrann Mathieu is gone, and Thornhill said he will respond with an All-Pro season. “I’m committed to doing that,’’ he said. — Adam Teicher

Tyrann Mathieu calls Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase ‘Odell Beckham 2.0’ in recounting Chase’s historic game vs. Chiefs | CBS Sports

“I hate to compare people, but he’s like Odell Beckham 2.0,” Mathieu said.

The “Honey Badger” had a front-row seat to Chase’s best game, as he exploded for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches in Week 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Chase set a rookie record for most receiving yards in a single game in the win, completely torching Kansas City’s defense.

“It was embarrassing,” said Mathieu.

“It was Tiger on Tiger crime. That’s how I like to describe it.”

2022 NFL fantasy football rankings: The rookies | YardBarker

8. Skyy Moore, WR, Chiefs

Moore is slightly undersized but played much bigger as Western Michigan’s top wideout last season. He has an opening to gain big value after the departure of Tyreek Hill in KC, with Patrick Mahomes dispersing the ball.

Chiefs WR Cornell Powell got married over the weekend | Chiefs Wire

Patrick Mahomes wasn’t the only player with happy news to share from the past weekend.

Players often use the time between mandatory minicamp and training camp to take care of important business. That’s exactly what Kansas City Chiefs WR Cornell Powell did over the weekend.

Powell and fiancee Kyndall Ellis were married on Saturday, June 25th in a beautiful ceremony and celebration. Powell proposed back in March of 2021, so this special day had been in the works for the happy couple for a while.

They had an adorable wedding hashtag: #ThePowellCouple

Around the NFL

Luke Kuechly joins Panthers radio broadcast team for 2022 season | NFL.com

The team announced Monday the all-time great linebacker would be part of its broadcast team for seven games in 2022.

“I just love the Panthers; I love being around it,” Kuechly told the team’s official website. “I love the people. I think I want to be attached to the team, and the game, and the organization somehow. I think it could be a lot of fun. I think that’s the biggest reason, to do something around the game on game day that’s fun. You still get the atmosphere, and all the good memories I have here in Carolina.”

A first-round pick by the Panthers in 2012, Kuechly played eight seasons in Carolina, earning seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro nods. He retired following the 2019 season.

Marlin Briscoe, first Black starting QB in AFL, dies at age 76 | ESPN

Marlin Briscoe, who became the first Black starting quarterback in the American Football League more than 50 years ago, died Monday.

His daughter, Angela Marriott, told The Associated Press that Briscoe, 76, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Norwalk, California. He had been hospitalized with circulation issues in his legs.

Briscoe, who was from Omaha, Nebraska, was a star quarterback at Omaha University before the Denver Broncos drafted him as a cornerback in the 14th round in 1968. Briscoe told the team he’d return home to become a teacher if he couldn’t get a tryout at quarterback. Denver agreed to an audition, and the 5-foot-10 dynamo nicknamed “The Magician” nearly rallied the Broncos to victory as a reserve against the Boston Patriots on Sept. 29 before earning the historic start on Oct. 6.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

PFF ranks the Chiefs’ defensive backs in top half of NFL

14. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

CB: L’Jarius Sneed, CB: Rashad Fenton, NCB: Trent McDuffie, S: Juan Thornhill, S: Justin Reid

While he’s been overshadowed by bigger names on the Chiefs’ roster, L’Jarius Sneed deserves some credit for his play since entering the NFL He’s had arguably the best start to his career of any cornerback from the 2020 draft class. While being asked to move between outside and slot cornerback, depending on where he’s needed, he’s been excellent through two seasons. He made the second-most defensive stops of any cornerback in the league last year.

Takeaway

Renner’s point about Sneed hits home, as there have been times throughout his young career when he’s looked like a Pro Bowler. Sneed was taken on Day 3 in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft — and he could be considered general manager Brett Veach’s best draft pick since taking over the head position ahead of the 2018 draft. Other names, such as Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, are worth considering here, too.

Renner lists rookie Trent McDuffie at the nickel, but I’m not sure that will definitely be the case. Sneed has been wildly effective outside and sliding in for subpackages. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s tendency to ease younger players in tells me he would likely stick with Sneed in that role, letting McDuffie handle a starting outside position exclusively.

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