5 Kansas City Chiefs roster battles fans need to watch this summer

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Primary participants: Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams, Kamal Hadden, Nazeeh Johnson

With former top cornerback L'Jarius Sneed suiting up with the Tennessee Titans, this is Trent McDuffie's room to lead. The 2022 first-round pick has met expectations and surpassed them, quietly becoming one of the league's top defenders last season. But this is the first season in a while that there isn't a clear cornerback tandem in Kansas City. This cornerback room seems wide open heading into the summer.

The two top CB2 options are 2022 fourth- and seventh-round picks Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson. Those two are the latest developmental success stories for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and defensive backs coach Dave Merritt. Watson had a better rookie season than Williams, but Williams bounced back while the other had a sophomore slump.

Both had similar defensive workloads, but Williams stood taller in force incompletions, receptions allowed, and passer rating allowed. He was a developmental pick out of Fayetteville State, and he is trending in the right direction.

In that same vein, I cannot discount two other late-round selections in this depth chart race. Kansas City is rolling the dice on Kamal Hadden, a former Tennessee Volunteer whose draft stock plummeted after a season-ending shoulder injury. He was insanely productive in SEC competition, with 11 passes defended and three interceptions in 2023. He also has NFL-level athletic traits, including "sticky coverage, because of his pattern recognition, foot quickness, and play confidence," according to The Athletic's Dane Brugler.

Johnson is the wild card in this race, after missing the 2023 season due to injury. He told A to Z Sports' Charles Goldman that, bluntly, the Chiefs "got big things planned for me" heading into 2024. He was working with the first-team defense in 2023 before an ACL tear sidelined him. If he is healthy, and he looks healthy, Johnson's ceiling is very high in Kansas City.