Few teams in the National Football League can boast a better young tandem of cornerbacks than the duo of L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie of the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are lockdown pass defenders who can limit the best pass catchers in the game, and both are also capable run defenders who remain a plus asset if they play up in the box.
While both have been performing well since they arrived in Kansas City, it took until this season for both players to break through.
The Chiefs young cornerback cemented himself as one of the best in the entire NFL.
For McDuffie, this year has been a proving ground that the Chiefs have their next truly great corner for the franchise. Last year, he was a dynamic young rookie who was an instant asset in the defensive backfield but he also missed nearly a half season with a hamstring injury that robbed him of any early season reps and experience.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach believed he had something special in McDuffie when he traded up for him on draft day. McDuffie was slotted on the team's draft board as an impact player, and Veach swapped picks with the New England Patriots in the bottom half of the first round to get him—moving from No. 29 overall to 21 by throwing in a couple of extra mid-round selections.
McDuffie was an instant hit both in the slot and outside on the boundary during his rookie season, but this year has really allowed him to blossom into a defender so instinctive and fluid that quarterbacks tend to shy away from him. Nevertheless, McDuffie's surprising ability to be so physical and tough has allowed him to force 5 fumbles and generate 3 sacks as well in 2023.
Going forward, Sneed is going to hit the open market and could easily price himself out of Kansas City with such a strong contract season. Despite being snubbed by both the Pro Bowl vote and the Associated Press vote this year, Sneed has become a star pass defender known for shutting down the opponent's top receivers.
Other first-team All-Pro nods earned by Chiefs this year include defensive tackle Chris Jones and offensive lineman Joe Thuney.