Every year, ESPN rolls out an offseason position-by-position ranking of the NFL’s best players. But this one isn’t based on the opinion of one of its writers — or even a poll of them. Instead, it’s based on the votes made by a group of more than 80 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.
These lists aren’t intended to be either a projection or a career retrospective. Voters are asked to identify the top players in each position right now.
One of these position rankings is being released every day through July 18. Over the weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Nick Bolton and Chris Jones were named among the league’s top 10 at their positions. No Kansas City players were mentioned in ESPN’s top-10 edge rushers article on Monday — but on Tuesday, the cornerback ranking had two Chiefs in the fine print.
L’Jarius Sneed, Kansas City Chiefs
“Solid starter. Was surprised he could play inside for [the Chiefs] as well as he did,” a veteran NFC scout said. “Long, can run and smart enough to play inside and out. Has the skill set to disrupt on the outside and maximize what the Chiefs want to do schematically. Not sure he’s the most fluid, man-oriented type to be a top-tier CB.”
Also receiving votes: Trent McDuffie (Kansas City Chiefs)
In a group headed by the Denver Broncos’ Pat Surtain II, the New York Jets’ Sauce Gardner and the Miami Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey, it would probably be asking a lot for Sneed to crack the top 10. Still, the quote about him matches what we see: a talented corner who can play wherever needed, making him an important cog in coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme. Sneed has improved a bit in each of his three Kansas City seasons — and in his contract year, he’ll be motivated to improve even more.
Unlike Sneed, McDuffie didn’t get an honorable mention. But the fact that he received votes for a rookie season in which he missed six games says a lot. He’s going to be a player to watch in the coming years — and will be leading a group of corners who also made some noise in their rookie campaigns.