The Kansas City Chiefs already have plenty of proven performers. They have historic greats and household names. They have the NFL's most recognizable player and Taylor Swift's love interest. They have an All-Pro punter, a potential HOF pass rusher, and a versatile cornerback who is guaranteeing himself a massive payday next spring with his play so far in 2023. Oh yeah, there's also the Pro Bowl players anchored along the offensive front.
Despite the Thuneys and Humphreys, the Townsends and Butkers, the Mahomeses and Kelces, the Sneeds and Joneses, the Chiefs still have another young layer of players ready to rise up and claim a greater share of the spotlight for themselves. Many of these players already have us very excited, but all four of them came up huge against the Denver Broncos in Week 6.
With their performance against Denver as a signal, we thought we'd recognize the heroes that really emerged on Thursday Night Football.
Our discussion of emerging heroes begins with the most unlikely listing of them all: second-year cornerback Jaylen Watson.
When the Chiefs first selected Watson in the 2022 NFL Draft, he was a complete afterthought, a longshot of a seventh-round choice who could compete with fellow draftees Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, and Nazeeh Johnson for special teams reps and a spot on the active roster. McDuffie was an automatic call and Williams likely had a long leash to help him out, but no one could have predicted what Watson has turned into for the Chiefs.
It only took two games for Watson to win a game for Kansas City, and he had a superb rookie campaign with that game-winning pick-six of Justin Herbert as the highlight of the season. He had another two INTs and 4 deflected passes in the postseason for the Chiefs.
On Thursday, he came up big for the Chiefs in spot duty in the secondary. Overall, the team's pass defense held Russ Wilson to less than 100 yards passing and had two interceptions, and a big part of frustrating Wilson's plans on the night came from coverage like this:
It's likely a long-term battle between Watson and Williams for that CB3 role, but Watson came up big on a couple of important plays and proved to the coaching staff that he can be that guy. If so, this team has some real fuel for a long season ahead as well as future years in K.C.