The Real MVP | The Kansas City Chiefs Scouting Department Flipped Tyreek Hill Trade Into A Super Sunday Run
As the Kansas City Chiefs traded around the world on Tyreek Hill, pundits everywhere began saying they would fall off and not be nearly as successful without their dynamic playmaker.
Ten months later, the Chiefs were winning more regular season games, 14, than they had ever won with Hill. And they made it to the Super Bowl, which they failed to do in Hill’s final season with the team.
We all know Patrick Mahomes, and he’s one of a kind and on the verge of winning his second NFL MVP and possibly his second Super Bowl. Then there’s all-world tight end Travis Kelce and, of course, head coach Andy Reid at the helm. But the Chiefs hit multiple home runs in the 2022 NFL draft, with nine of their ten draft picks from the 2022 class playing in the team’s biggest game of the season in prime time.
Kansas City Rookie Defensive Backs won the game
No group of freshmen strengthened more than KC’s defenders. Face off against what is arguably the best trio of passcatchers in the league, Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson and Brian Cook, all of whom put on performances that surprised even their head coach.
📹VIDEO: Trent McDuffie talks about the importance of #bosses Rookies: “It will always be Arrowhead Stadium” pic.twitter.com/7gee6bPebW
— Aaron Ladd (@aaronladd0) January 30, 2023
The aforementioned McDuffie is a starter and the first-round pick received by KC from Miami in the hill trade. But when starter L’Jarius Sneed suffered a concussion earlier in the first quarter, rookies Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson had to step up alongside McDuffie.
The duo combined for nine tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions. In his post-game press, Reid praised his young trio of corners for their game.
“It’s crazy how things work, but the kids have stepped up.” said Reid. “They haven’t lost their confidence. I was optimistic, but you don’t know how the journey will go. Here we are and they did a great job.”
Also included in this group is rookie safety Bryan Cook, who was beaten by Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase with a fourth and six early in the fourth quarter, only to come back and play a ball chosen by Williams with the game in the limbo.
.@Chiefs Rookies in secondary school make one big entrance after another. What a design class. @Jwilliofficial off Fayetteville Street! #Baldy’sBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/0uILLsYprn
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) January 30, 2023
Rookie edge rusher George Karlaftis also played well, recording a sack and three QB pressures.
They all grew up watching the Chiefs’ biggest moments of the season. These draft picks came up and made plays.
Isaiah Pacheco and Sky Moore did it on offense
Rookie running back Isaiah Pacheco totaled 85 yards and added some huge third-down conversions.
Newbie wideout Skyy Moore, who is underchallenged in his rookie season due to a lack of playing time, excelled with starters JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman, all of whom were injured at some point during the game.
Moore made just three receptions overall, but it was his massive 26-yard punt return with 30 seconds left that put the Chiefs in midfield to act en route to their game-winning field goal. It was refreshing to see Moore having his moment and going through his rookie growing pains.
Impressive day for the Chiefs draft class
CB Trent McDuffie: 6 tackles, 2 PD
EN George Karlaftis: Sack
WR Skyy Moore: 3 catches, key punt return
S Bryan Cook: 4 tackles, PBU
CB Joshua Williams: INT
CB Jaylen Watson: INT
RB Isaiah Pacheco: 85 total yards
From round 1 to round 7.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 30, 2023
The Kansas City Chiefs have an elite scouting department
These rookies’ play is a direct result of their amazing scouting department and elite player development once they arrive at KC and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s confidence in the first-year players.
The Chiefs’ pass defense has been an Achilles’ heel for the past half decade, despite the overall success of Pat Mahomes and the team. That weakness has been turned into a deadly weapon with cover abilities that have resulted in more sacks from edge rushers like Chris Jones, who had 0 sacks in the first 14 games of his playoff career.
What a welcome sight for a franchise that’s likely to find itself in this position a few more times at number 15 below midpoint.