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It's a Passing League: How the Chiefs' Offseason Overhauls Reset KC's Future

The Chiefs have made several good moves to patch up their roster this offseason, particularly at some important positions.
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Following the 2022 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs have been widely applauded for their draft haul, largely considered one of the best classes in the league. The Chiefs also had three other key additions after the draft when they tagged Melvin Ingram, traded for Lonnie Johnson Jr. and signed Justyn Ross. But the Chiefs haven't just added good players — they've targeted players at their biggest positions of need.

After years of hoping to get good production with lesser resources toward the positions they should have prioritized, the Chiefs finally put in a lot of money and draft capital into the two most important positions besides quarterback: wide receiver and cornerback.

Nov 28, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Trent McDuffie (22) celebrates following an interception against the Utah Utes during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

First, let’s look at cornerback, the position the Chiefs addressed most in their recent moves. For the first time, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach drafted a cornerback with a high pick, trading up to No. 21 overall to take Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie. In college, McDuffie was a lockdown corner at its finest, allowing just 111 receiving yards and zero touchdowns over 296 coverage snaps in his final season with the Huskies, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Concerns with him are that he doesn’t make many plays on the ball, with no interceptions last year, and that he has short arms for an NFL cornerback (29.75 inches). However, just watching him play shows that you shouldn’t be too afraid of these things. As long as he remains a lockdown corner, he’s still more than worth it.

On top of that, the Chiefs also used the No. 135 overall pick in the fourth round to take Fayetteville State’s Joshua Williams, the No. 243 overall pick in the seventh round to take Washington State’s Jaylen Watson, and a conditional 2024 seventh-round pick to trade for Lonnie Johnson Jr. from the Houston Texans.

Feb 1, 2022; Mobile, AL, USA; National defensive back Joshua Williams of Fayetteville State (30) defends against National running back Rachaad White of Arizona State (3) during National practice for the 2022 Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson has had a rough first three seasons in the NFL, showcasing a horribly-low 31.7 PFF grade this past season, but he has shown decent flashes in his career as well, having a 65.5 PFF grade in 2020, which was also the season where he had his most snaps played of the three.

In 2021, the Chiefs' cornerback room consisted of a fourth-round draft pick, an undrafted free agent who they traded for prior to his first game, a player who they traded a sixth-round draft pick for, a sixth-round draft pick, and a player who they were paying less than a million dollars. The team seemed to have the philosophy that they would look to develop players who had traits but weren't ready for the NFL yet, but now, this McDuffie pick seems to show they know that they need an NFL-ready cornerback on their team now along with L'Jarius Sneed. With it being the most important position on defense, as discussed previously, this is potentially going to be the most impactful addition on the team this coming season, even as a rookie.

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Nov 7, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass against the Green Bay Packers during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

At the wide receiver position, the Chiefs made the bold decision to completely clean house, letting go of all of their top three wide receivers in order of snap count: Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and the star of the group, Tyreek Hill. To make up for it, the Chiefs invested as much as $10.75 million into JuJu Smith-Schuester, $10 million per year into Marquez Valdes-Scantling and a second-round draft pick to pick up Skyy Moore from Western Michigan, giving the Chiefs the deepest wide receiver room that they have had in years.

Smith-Schuester is looking to bounce back, now with better health, a more important role and a far better quarterback, and he has shown he has the talent to make it happen. He is still just 25 and he remains one of the better short-to-intermediate route wide receivers in football, so he and Travis Kelce will be expected to control those parts of the field for Patrick Mahomes' passing game.

Jan 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) poses for a photograph with a fan following the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Valdes-Scantling will be the deep ball option for sure, as over 40% of his total targets have been 20+ yards down the field in each of the last two seasons, according to PFF. As a result, he has had 714 yards and six touchdowns on said targets over the last two years, compared to 554 yards and four touchdowns on targets ranging from behind the line of scrimmage to 19 yards down the field.

Moore was one of the most explosive players in all of college football, putting up five games with at least 100 yards and a touchdown and finishing the season with a grand total of 1,291 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has shown to be a real all-around weapon in the past, getting good production all over the field, avoiding drops, making big plays with 30+ yard receptions in half of his games last season, and lining up from both out wide and from the slot often. He will likely translate well to the NFL and end up as the Chiefs' WR3 or even WR2 out of the gate.

Sep 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Skyy Moore (24) steps out of bounds just short of the end zone past Pittsburgh Panthers linebacker Cam Bright (38) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Broncos won 44-41. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, the Chiefs added Justyn Ross after the draft as an undrafted free agent. Ross, Trevor Lawrence's favorite target at Clemson, was a former consensus future top-10 draft pick as a freshman, following his breakout showing in the College Football Playoff when he put up 301 yards and three touchdowns against Notre Dame and Alabama.

Following his sophomore season, Ross had to get surgery for a career-threatening congenital fusion in his spine, causing him to miss the 2020 season. He returned in the 2021 season and he had a regression in his production, but he still played well, putting up 50+ yards in seven of his 10 games played. The further he gets from the surgery, the likelier it will be that 22-year-old Ross can get back to the form of 19-year-old Ross.

Oct 15, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) catches the ball in front of Syracuse Orange linebacker Marlowe Wax (2) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

While the wide receiver position may be worse off now without Hill, the additions they have made recently in Moore and Ross will put that into question, as the position should have better depth than in previous years. In regards to cornerback, if McDuffie reaches his expectations, it is possible that that group will be in the best shape it has been in some time, with McDuffie and Sneed leading the way and Rashad Fenton up next, following his great 2021 season, along with some major depth with the later draft picks, Johnson, and former first-round pick Deandre Baker. If wide receiver can be about as good as it was in previous years and cornerback can take a forward jump, the Chiefs' future should remain as bright as it has ever been over the next few years.