Forgotten Chiefs DB Emerges as Candidate to Replace L’Jarius Sneed

The Kansas City Chiefs could go outside the organization to help replace L’Jarius Sneed, but they also have a few intriguing in-house candidates who should get an opportunity to win a starting role.

Report: Kansas City Chiefs to trade L'Jarius Sneed to Titans | Kansas City  Star

One forgotten prospect is emerging as an option according to A-to-Z Sports Kansas City reporter Charles Goldman. After an exclusive interview with the player, Goldman relayed why fans shouldn’t count out 2022 seventh rounder Nazeeh Johnson during OTAs and training camp.

“The Chiefs felt comfortable trading CB L’Jarius Sneed because they already have the perfect replacement on the roster,” Goldman voiced on March 23. “[Johnson] was tracking to start on defense at corner opposite Sneed and Trent McDuffie in 2023 before a season-ending injury in training camp.”

Johnson has been fighting his way back from a torn ACL in 2024, but appeared ready to retake the field in mid-February — sharing a workout video on the 18th. The 25-year-old has also expressed a strong desire to pick back up where he left off last summer.

Nazeeh Johnson’s Reveals Chiefs Still Have Big Plans for Him

During the chat with Goldman, Johnson told the reporter that the Chiefs still “got big things planned” for him after his injury.

In the article, Goldman detailed a long and challenging NFL transition from safety to cornerback that seemed to finally click for Johnson just before he got hurt. He had even briefly leapfrogged rookie success stories Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson on the depth chart.

“I was doubting myself at the beginning, because it was hard,” Johnson told the A-to-Z Sports media member. “Like, you go from safety to corner, and now you got to get hands-on and now you’re getting yelled at for your technique, and everything, but they kept working with me. And I really appreciate that they worked with me.”

“What I did this last camp was [because of] everything that whole year of just learning how to play corner, you know, trusting my abilities, and just doing all that stuff,” he explained. “And it’s all coming full circle. It’s why I was producing in OTAs and camp.”

Johnson concluded that he’s “got no choice” but to work his way back to previous trajectory.

Chiefs Kingdom Shouldn’t Doubt Steve Spagnuolo & Dave Merritt

Lots of KC fans are upset with the Sneed trade. Some thought the Chiefs should have kept the star defensive back for one more year while others thought the return was not good enough.

Both of those opinions are fair, but it’s also a fair belief that the Kansas City coaching staff can successfully develop more prospects in the same way they did Sneed.

It’s easy to forget that Sneed was a fourth-round selection that played safety during his final season of college ball. He only appeared in nine games as a rookie, starting six of them — although he did register three interceptions and seven pass defenses right out of the gate.

Having said that, Sneed is not an outlier inside this organization.

The Chiefs have become one of the best in the business at developing cornerbacks because of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and DBs coach Dave Merritt, among others.

After all, McDuffie is already a star and both Williams and Watson have shown an ability to get the job done when called upon. Bryan Cook had also grown into a starting safety by year two before his injury, and Johnson made major strides last summer.

Who’s to say one of these players cannot turn into Sneed, or something similar?

With 2023 seventh rounder Nic Jones and promising UDFA Ekow Boye-Doe in the mix as well, the Chiefs have enough talent to carry out a strong CB competition in 2024.

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