Despite originally picking near the bottom of each round, the Chiefs came out of the 2022 draft with an excellent group of useful players. The Chiefs and Tennessee Titans were the only teams this year to have at least six rookies worth 10 or more total points, according to SIS charting metrics. (The Jets and Seahawks had five such rookies, with no other team above four.)
The Kansas City draft class starts at cornerback, with three rookies getting significant playing time. First-round pick Trent McDuffie, chosen with a pick acquired in trade from the Patriots, played just 11 games because of injury but started each one and allowed just 5.0 yards per target. McDuffie was one of the players whose injuries forced fourth-round pick Joshua Williams into the lineup, and he had a strong 53% completion rate, allowed although a couple of big plays given up meant he allowed a poor 8.7 yards per target. Seventh-round pick Jaylen Watson also started six games; he had a higher completion rate allowed than Williams (60%) but a lower yards-per-target figure (7.2).
With their own first-round pick, the Chiefs took edge rusher George Karlaftis. He started every game and had six sacks and 40 pressures. Running back Isiah Pacheco took over the starting job around midseason and averaged 4.9 yards per carry with five touchdowns. The Chiefs also got small contributions from backup safety Bryan Cook and wide receiver Skyy Moore.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: EDGE DEFENDER JADEVEON CLOWNEY
By trading away wide receiver Tyreek Hill and not spending much elsewhere during the 2022 offseason, the Chiefs provided themselves with a lot of flexibility going forward. Edge defender Frank Clark is almost certainly going to be cut, with his reworked contract still carrying a $20 million salary for 2023. The Chiefs will still need to upgrade significantly at edge defender, as interior defender Chris Jones has done the lion’s share of the pass-rush work over the last few seasons.
Clowney remains one of the best run defenders one the edge across the NFL, with 70.0-plus run-defense grades in six of his eight full NFL seasons and a pressure percentage above 10% in six of eight as well. Clowney made it clear with his frustration toward the end of the season that he wants to go to a contender once and for all, and what better way to do that than by joining the Chiefs.
3. Chiefs vs. 49ers
There’s a lot to love here. Kyle Shanahan’s attempt at redemption against the very team that burned his 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, plus the David (Brock Purdy) vs. Goliath (Patrick Mahomes) factor as Mahomes looks to further solidify his legacy and establish a Chiefs dynasty with Andy Reid.
It’s also likely to be close, but Purdy is a wild card.
A penalty was called, but as Smith-Schuster was being attended to on the field, officials huddled and decided to pick up the flag.
“After discussion on the field, the two officials came in and determined that the defender had set and braced for impact and hit shoulder-to-shoulder,” referee Brad Rogers told a pool reporter afterward. “They didn’t feel it was use of a helmet foul.”
“Those hits are … it’s up to the referees,” Cisco told reporters after the game, which the Chiefs won 27-17. “I’m obviously leading with my shoulder. That’s how I hit usually. I’ve seen the replay and it looked like it was close but no call.”
Kansas City Chiefs
Nine-point favorites, K.C. has the largest spread of the weekend and justifiably so. All-Pro QB Patrick Mahomes, the presumed league MVP of 2022, is 4-0 in divisional round games and 7-2 in playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium. Coming out of a bye week, he’ll be helming the league’s No. 1 scoring and overall offense against a Jacksonville pass defense that is too often invisible and was roasted by Mahomes (331 yards, four TDs, INT) in a 27-17 Week 10 loss at Arrowhead that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
The Jags also haven’t won in Kansas City since 2007, their losing streak there now at four games. And they certainly can’t expect to survive another five-turnover performance. Stranger things have happened – fifth-seeded Jags 30, top-seeded Denver Broncos 27, a momentous upset that occurred in the divisional 26 years ago – and a Jacksonville victory Saturday afternoon would certainly qualify.
Kansas City Chiefs · RB
Exercise the option? No.
I loved this guy when he was coming out of LSU, and he’s shown flashes — but injuries have forced him to miss 17 regular-season games in his first three seasons. His production has also decreased in each year:
2020: 181 att., 803 rush yards, four rush TDs; 36 rec., 297 rec. yards, 1 rec. TD in 13 games (all starts)
2021: 119 att., 517 rush yards, four rush TDs; 19 rec., 129 rec. yards, 2 rec. TDs in 10 games (all starts)
2022: 71 att., 302 rush yards, three rush TDs; 17 rec., 151 rec. yards, 3 rec. TDs in 10 games (six starts)
With seventh-round rookie Isaiah Pacheco playing well in CEH’s place, there’s nothing forcing K.C. to lock the third-year back down for a fifth season. On top of that, soon-to-be free agent Jerick McKinnon has likely earned himself another year in Andy Reid’s plans due to his production down the stretch.
Zay Flowers WR
More electric receiver options for Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.
Around the NFL
But when asked during Wednesday’s season-ending news conference if he ever felt his job was in danger, Staley responded bluntly: “No.”
“I have a lot of confidence in how we do things here and what we’ve been able to accomplish and that’s the truth,” said Staley, who is 19-15 in two seasons with the Chargers. “Everybody that’s been around me on a day-to-day basis knows that. I am aware of the speculation ... but I was not worried about that because I know what goes on here on a day-to-day basis. I know what we have in our locker room. I know what’s out on that field and I’m excited to keep going.”
Nathaniel Hackett’s unemployment might not last long.
The former Broncos head coach is interviewing with the New York Jets for their open offensive coordinator position, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday.
After being fired before the end of his first season, Hackett is throwing his hat directly back into the coaching ring as an assistant. New York could be an ideal fit for the coordinator, who rose to prominence as an offensive coordinator in Green Bay under head coach Matt LaFleur. With Aaron Rodgers at the controls, LaFleur, Hackett and the rest of the offensive staff oversaw an offense that finished in the top 10 in total yards per game in 2020 and 2021, leading the Broncos to hire Hackett as head coach in 2022.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
While the play that Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid called “Snow Globe” was nullified by a holding penalty, fascination with the play has continued — although not everyone is a fan.
On Saturday, the Chiefs will face the Jacksonville Jaguars — whom they defeated 27-17 in Week 10 — to open the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. According to Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson, Kansas City’s next opponent is unconcerned with — and plans no special preparation for — the now-famous formation.
“They still have to line up and get set,” Pederson explained to reporters on Tuesday. “It’s fun and everything. It’s exciting — and players love it.
“I’ve been there with Coach Reid when things like that happen — and the players are engaged. The players probably came up with it, quite honestly. But you don’t have to spend too much time [preparing]. Eventually, they’ve got to get lined up within the 40-second time limit.”