The Kansas City Chiefs have a lot of stars on both sides of the ball. However, a young defensive back is emerging to add yet another to the mix. Rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed has enjoyed a banner rookie season, and that’s why one NFL columnist has named him as the team’s unsung hero for the 2020 season.
Over at NFL.com, Nick Shook has posted the unsung heroes of each team in the league, and for the defending Super Bowl champions, he went with Sneed as an unexpected (and most welcome) surprise in the secondary for a team that entered the season with numerous questions at the position. Per Shook:
"Sneed posted the fourth-best rate of targeted EPA among all defensive backs with at least 30 targets on the year, trailing only Xavien Howard, Jaire Alexander and Bryce Callahan while taking away 18 total points from opponents this season. Those are names folks are used to hearing, or in the case of Callahan, soon will be, and Sneed played at their level while flying under the radar in 2020."
The Chiefs selected Sneed at the back end of the fourth round, given they selected last in every round. However, general manager Brett Veach insisted that he was at the very top of their draft board heading into the final day of the event—with rounds four through seven still slated to get underway. That means the Chiefs had him pegged as a third round value, at least, although they did select Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Willie Gay, and Lucas Niang up to that point before him.
No one could have predicted the sort of instant impact that Sneed would find in K.C. The Louisiana Tech product was a Week 1 starter for the defending champs due to Bashaud Breeland’s four-game suspension to open the season. The Chiefs also had Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton, but Sneed was an early starter on the boundary.
L’Jarius Sneed has been the unsung hero for the Chiefs in 2020.
Sneed showed tremendous instincts and a game-changing physical style from the outset with two interceptions in his first two games. Unfortunately he suffered a broken collarbone that kept him out several weeks at midseason, but he came back with the same intensity he played with all season. In fact, the Chiefs began to move him inside, yet his range and versatility worked well there, too.
As of late, the Chiefs have been employing Sneed on blitzes from time to time to great effect. He even had a key sack of Josh Allen in the Chiefs’ win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship. Now the Chiefs can only hope Sneed continues to emerge into stardom on the biggest stage possible: against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.