How the Chiefs 2022 draft class got them back to the Super Bowl
The Chiefs got back to the Super Bowl after a thrilling 23-20 victory on Sunday. We look at how the Chiefs’ 2022 draft class contributed.
The 2022 NFL offseason was one of the most exciting in recent memory. It was an offseason that featured many big trades and signings.
In particular a lot of the AFC teams improved their rosters quite a bit. For starters every team in the Chiefs division made big additions.
The Denver Broncos traded for Russell Wilson and were viewed as Super Bowl contenders. Las Vegas made a big trade for DeVante Adams. The Chargers also added some pieces to their defense with free agent signings.
Outside of the division the other main contenders in the AFC got better. The Bengals who knocked off the Chiefs in the AFC title game last season added three starters along their offensive line.
The Buffalo Bills added Von Miller and were seen as the favorites to bring home the Super Bowl by many.
Meanwhile the Chiefs’ stock was seemingly dropping as they sent Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. Obviously, with Patrick Mahomes the Chiefs are always contenders and he’s ultimately the biggest reason they’ll be playing in the Super Bowl in two weeks.
However, what went somewhat under the radar was their draft class in 2022. It’s not necessarily a draft class that features many stars. However, on a team with a lot of star power already on the roster like the Chiefs adding depth is the most important thing.
The Chiefs certainly did that in their 2022 draft class and that showed up in Sunday’s AFC title game against the Bengals. Amongst the 10 rookies in the Chiefs 2022 draft class, seven of them played more than 25 snaps on Sunday.
Not only did they have an effect on Sunday’s AFC title game, but they’ve produced for the Chiefs throughout the season.
The first addition to the Chiefs 2022 draft class was Trent McDuffie. With the Tyreek Hill trade the Chiefs added an extra first, second, and fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft, along with two day three picks in the 2023 draft.
The extra first they received was the 29th overall pick and they moved up to 21st overall with a trade on draft night in a trade with the Patriots. They then used the 21st overall pick to select Washington corner Trent McDuffie.
They have seen that pick pay dividends already as McDuffie had a very good rookie year. His 73.5 grade from PFF grades as 17th amongst the 72 corners who have played at least 638 snaps this season.
He also played well on Sunday as he made two pass deflections including one that prevented the Bengals from picking up a big third down late in the third quarter.
Their other first round was the 30th overall pick and was used to select Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis. This has also paid immediate dividends as Karlaftis is third on the team in pressures this season with 49.
On Sunday Karlaftis made his way into the backfield as he recorded one of the team’s five sacks when he brought Burrow down on a second quarter sack.
The first of the Chiefs’ two second round picks was spent on Western Michigan wide receiver Skyy Moore. This hasn’t worked out quite as well as expected just yet. Moore has 263 yards on the season as he hasn’t been as consistently a part of the pass game as they would have liked.
Regardless, Moore still has a bright future on the team. Plus, he made a clutch 29 yard punt return in the final minute on Sunday which set the Chiefs up with fantastic field position for the game winning field goal.
The second of the Chiefs’ two second rounders was Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook. Cook is one of the seven rookies for the Cheifs to play 370 or more offensive or defensive snaps.
He isn’t a starter but he still plays a role in their defense and he came up clutch on Sunday. On a huge third down with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, Burrow took a downfield shot for Higgins and Cook made a phenomenal play to deflect the pass away from Higgins and into the hands of fellow rookie Joshua Williams for an interception.
The first of five day three selections for the Chiefs was Fayetteville State corner Joshua Williams. He has provided excellent value so far as he has played nearly 500 snaps for the Chiefs this season, including 59 on Sunday after L’Jarius Snead went down.
Going up against arguably the best receiving core in the NFL in the Bengals is a very daunting task for anyone, especially a fourth round rookie. Williams handled it very well however as he held up pretty well all game and made an interception off of a deflection by Bryan Cook on a huge third down late in the game.
Another rookie corner has paid dividends for the Chiefs and that is seventh round rookie out of Washington State Jaylen Watson. He has played a big role in their defense as he’s ninth on the defense with 719 snaps.
He was also amongst the group of rookies to make big plays on Sunday as he picked off Burrow late in the second quarter.
The Chiefs made a great value pick in the seventh round with Rutgers running back Isiah Pacheco. He has emerged as their lead back this season as he’s rushed for nearly 1000 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
On Sunday the Bengals did an excellent job stopping the Chiefs run game as he had 10 carries for 26 yards, but Pacheco was big in the pass game as he caught five passes for 59 yards.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of reasons that the Kansas City Chiefs will be playing in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Eric Bienemy, Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, etc. the list goes on and on. However, the rookies in the Chiefs 2022 draft class deserve a lot of credit for stepping up this season and in the AFC title game on Sunday.