KC Chiefs rookies come up big in Divisional Round against Jaguars
George Karlaftis, Defensive End (Round 1, Pick 30)
To be perfectly frank, Saturday was one of George Karlaftis’ weakest games of the season. He was lit up for a 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Doug Pederson deserves some credit as he had a perfect formation to get the matchup he wanted, although Steve Spagnuolo should have sniffed it out and called a timeout. He also failed to record a pressure on 24 pass-rushing snaps, but Trevor Lawrence does tend to get the ball out quickly. In addition, he had a relatively poor game defending Jacksonville’s rushing attack.
There’s no reason to panic when it comes to Karlaftis. He had a fantastic finish to the season and has been getting better as the season progressed. He should be a solid player for the rest of the postseason and in the future.
Jaylen Watson, Cornerback (Round 7, Pick 243)
Jaylen Watson had arguably his best game of the entire season against the Jaguars. He had two pressures (one hurry and one quarterback hit) on three blitz opportunities. He did allow two catches for 55 yards on four targets in coverage, but also had the game-sealing interception of Trevor Lawrence late in the game:
Watson also had a huge tackle on a kickoff return by Jamal Agnew in the middle of the first quarter. Harrison Butker kicked the ball low and the former first-team all-pro returner returned the ball 63 yards before Jaylen Watson finally took him down, saving a touchdown. His hit on Trevor Lawrence forced an incompletion.
Jaylen Watson, being a late seventh-round pick, has already paid enough dividends to be worth the pick. He also had a game-winning pick-six against the Chargers in Week 2, and one can argue that his two picks have been the most impactful of this season for Kansas City.
Trent McDuffie, Cornerback (Round 1, Pick 21)
It was not one of Trent McDuffie’s better games on Saturday. He was called for a defensive holding early in the fourth quarter, but it was declined as Lawrence hit Zay Jones for a 37-yard pass. In 45 coverage snaps, he was targeted thrice and gave up two catches for 21 yards. He also had a great day tackling as he totaled four tackles (three solo), plus a defensive stop.
Although it wasn’t a great performance for Trent McDuffie, he is still the clear-cut second-most reliable cornerback on the roster, after L’Jarius Sneed. His hamstring injury early in the season may have stunted some of his development but he’s still been a fantastic pick so far and the Chiefs likely have a young star in the secondary for years to come.