Nic Jones faces double-edged opportunity with Kansas City Chiefs

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ball State defensive back Nic Jones (DB17) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ball State defensive back Nic Jones (DB17) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The youthful approach to the secondary these days embraced by the Kansas City Chiefs is a double-edged sword for seventh-round selection Nic Jones.

Nic Jones has good reason to hope. Yet somehow, it’s also that hope that presents a sharp cutting edge of its own that portrays the shadow side of the competition before him when it comes to making the Kansas City Chiefs roster.

Just last month, the Chiefs utilized their seventh and final selection in the 2023 NFL Draft on Jones, a lengthy, physical cornerback out of Ball State. As with any last-round pick, Jones faces a significant uphill climb to earn enough trust from the coaching staff to make the team’s active roster out of training camp. In fact, for most seventh-round selections, earning a spot on a team’s practice squad is an achievement all its own.

For Jones, however, the Chiefs franchise is not a normal one. That’s both good and bad for his future.

While it’s true the Chiefs are a deep, talented team who enter this season as the defending Super Bowl champs, the truth is that Kansas City isn’t a typical sit-and-wait contender for young players. For Andy Reid and his staff, it doesn’t matter if your contract is 10x that of someone else or if you were drafted earlier than most, the best players are the ones that will see the field. Competition is king and readiness is readiness.

For some rookies, there’s a lot to learn and the curve to get there takes significant time. Skyy Moore is a great example of someone forced to sit like a lot of rookies can assume they will do. On the other hand, seventh-round cornerback Jaylen Watson iced a win in Week 2 over the Chargers with a record-setting pick-six, while fellow seventh-round running back Isiah Pacheco forced everyone else down the depth chart by midseason.

In the secondary especially, the Chiefs have proven willing to let their prospects learn on the fly. Last year, second-round safety Bryan Cook, fourth-round cornerback Joshua Williams, first-round corner Trent McDuffie and Watson all played considerable snaps on a defense that hoisted the Lombardi. Rookie status, be damned.

In this atmosphere, Jones has to be heartened to know that if he puts in the work, he will be rewarded. The team has already exhibited their belief in him by drafting him in the first place. Now, it’s about application and effort. That’s why Jones can have hope that playing time is waiting for him if he can prove he belongs on the active roster.

But herein lies the challenge ahead, the double-edged opportunity before him. The Chiefs’ refusal to create some pecking order already allowed a host of young players to play last season. That means the position is already crowded with loads of prospects who proved last year that they were capable of playing in the biggest games. As good as the young secondary was for K.C. last season, imagine McDuffie, Cook, Watson, and Williams with a full season under their collective belts.

It doesn’t help when you throw in L’Jarius Sneed into the mix along with other potential players like DiCaprio Bootle, Chamarri Conner, or the five other undrafted free agents who’ve signed with the same hope in sight at Jones.

For the Chiefs, it’s a no-lose operating method. If a guy loses his job to a younger one, it’s tough on the personal side, but the NFL is a business defined by such competition. For Jones, however, it’s going to be a battle with hope—hanging on to the upside of what is possible while knowing that so many others are also claiming it, too.

Predicting the Chiefs 53-man roster. dark. Next