Chiefs Draft Pick Deemed KC’s ‘Best Sleeper’ of 2024

The Kansas City Chiefs have built a dynasty through the NFL draft over the past decade. But it’s not just the Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Travis Kelce selections that have translated to championships.

KC also has a knack of turning mid-to-late-round prospects into key contributors. Think Tyreek Hill — a fifth rounder — or 2020 fourth rounder L’Jarius Sneed. And the next “sleeper” pick could be Tennessee cornerback Kamal Hadden.

USA Today Sports Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar put out a list highlighting each team’s best draft sleeper on May 4, and Hadden represented Kansas City.

“Without Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, the Super Bowl champion Chiefs might not have even made it to the postseason,” Farrar began. “Key among Spagnuolo’s most important players reside in a secondary that Spags, GM Brett Veach, and the Chiefs’ scouting staff have prioritized.”

“And the Chiefs have gotten these guys from the first round (Trent McDuffie), the fourth round (the now-departed Sneed), and the seventh round (Jaylen Watson),” he continued.

Adding: “Now, there’s Tennessee’s Kamal Hadden, who Kansas City selected with the 211th pick in the sixth round. Last season, the 6-foot-1, 196-pound Hadden allowed 12 catches on 33 targets for 96 yards, 55 yards after the catch, no touchdowns, three interceptions, six pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of (this is not a typo) 7.0.”

Veach made note of Hadden’s “physicality” after the Chiefs drafted him. “Tough, physical kid,” the GM voiced. “He has a good press skillset and just like the way he plays.”

Based on that brief assessment alone, Hadden’s track record is reminiscent of Sneed — the top departure this offseason. Farrar concluded that “when you watch Hadden close to the ball, he just looks like a Chiefs cornerback,” and after hearing Veach talk about the young CB, he sounds like one too.

Kamal Hadden’s Coverage Strengths Make Him ‘Strong Fit’ for Chiefs Secondary Long-Term

As for his fit inside a crowded young cornerback room, Arrowhead film analyst Ron Kopp Jr. believes Hadden will make for “able competition.”

“Hadden is natural at playing outside cornerback and fits the bill with a size profile of 6’1” and 196 lbs,” Kopp informed. Adding: “There are flashes Hadden showed in college that his new teammates did not at the same level of competition.”

Kopp went on to break down Hadden’s strengths, which he thought were playmaking in press coverage, attacking at the catch point and having a “quick trigger downhill.”

“Hadden’s ability in coverage can earn him a spot in the Chiefs’ active rotation,” Kopp concluded later. “He appears to have a strong feel for breaking up passes and the flexibility to get to that point from different techniques off the snap.”

The film analyst deduced that this skillset makes Hadden a “strong fit” for Spagnuolo’s scheme. Although he did worry about the rookie’s ability as a tackler and “edge setter.”

New Chiefs CB Kamal Hadden Is Fully Recovered From Shoulder Surgery

Hadden’s draft stock appeared to be impacted by a season-ending shoulder injury after just six outings last year.

“While making a tackle during Tennessee’s seventh contest against Alabama, Hadden suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season,” Arrowhead Pride’s Jared Sapp relayed on May 6.

Now healthy again, Hadden is looking to test his mettle at the NFL level.

“Missing half the season in college due to a routine tackle, it made [me] miss everything just a little more,” Hadden told reporters after making his way to KC’s rookie camp. “I just can’t wait to get back out there today to see what I can do and see how far I’ve come — and [what I’ve] learned since I’ve been hurt.”

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