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Jaylen Watson Chiefs
NFL

Jaylen Watson Already A Draft Steal For Chiefs

  • Justin Melo
  • September 16, 2022
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Thursday night’s primetime thriller saw the Kansas City Chiefs claim a three-point victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. Superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert enjoyed standout showings. It was an unknown commodity that made the game-winning play, however. Chiefs rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson determined the outcome. 

The Chargers were faced with a first-and-goal with the game tied 17 apiece with 10:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. Herbert’s pass intended for tight end Gerald Everett was intercepted by Watson at the goal line and returned 99 yards for a pick-six touchdown. It goes down as the second-longest defensive touchdown in Chiefs history.

The Chargers never recovered. Watson is quickly developing into a late-round draft find for the Chiefs.

The No. 243 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Watson was catapulted into a starring spot in place of fellow rookie Trent McDuffie, who was placed on IR earlier this week. Watson had big shoes to fill against a high-octane passing offense. McDuffie saw zero targets on 21 coverage snaps and allowed zero receiving yards in his NFL debut versus the Arizona Cardinals last week, per Pro Football Focus. Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi targeted Watson, who was often lined up in coverage across Chargers receiver Mike Williams. It was an understandable strategy given Watson’s inexperience. Williams enjoyed a fruitful night, totaling a team-high eight receptions for 113 yards and a one-handed touchdown. Watson kept battling and eventually swung the pendulum in Kansas City’s favor.

Watson captured Kansas City’s attention at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Watson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds, an excellent result given his imposing size and stature. Watson carried that momentum over to his Pro Day, where he leaped a jaw-dropping 38-inch vertical.

Watson’s story is one of true perseverance. Watson’s collegiate career began via the JUCO route at Ventura College. He later worked at a Wendy’s franchise operated by his mother in their hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Watson earned $7.25/hour as his football future hung in the balance. It was the life lesson Watson didn’t know he needed at the time, and he eventually continued pursuing a career in football at Washington State. Watson’s hard work paid off Thursday with a pick-six touchdown in just his second professional game.

“I plan to prove that I‘m the best cornerback in this draft class,” Jaylen Watson exclusively told The Draft Network in April while confirming the Chiefs were hosting him on a private Top 30 visit. “I think I’ve always been underrated and overlooked. I play the game with a chip on my shoulder. Everything that’s done in darkness will come to the light pretty soon.”

Watson is a long, physical cornerback. His length allows him to jam opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. Watson was an aggressive cornerback at Washington State that presses receivers and disrupts their routes.

The Chiefs expressed interest in Watson throughout the entire pre-draft process. General manager Brett Veach pulled the trigger in the seventh round with just 20 overall selections left to be made. The Chiefs appear to have unearthed a late-round gem in Watson. His selection will continue paying dividends for one of the best franchises in the sport.