Chiefs Rookies Who Will Make Instant Impact in 2022 Season

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 16, 2022

Chiefs Rookies Who Will Make Instant Impact in 2022 Season

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs have proven stars on both sides of the field entering the 2022 NFL season.

    They know what they can expect from players such as quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, defensive tackle Chris Jones and more. That's why the team is expected to be among the top Super Bowl LVII contenders.

    But if the Chiefs want to win a championship for the second time in four seasons, they'll need other players to fill key roles, especially after they traded wide receiver Tyreek Hill and moved on from safety Tyrann Mathieu. And the team may need to rely on its rookie class for that to happen.

    The Chiefs were busy during the 2022 draft, adding 10 players, including two in the first round and two in the second. Because Kansas City was so active early, it added numerous prospects who were ranked highly in the class. It may not be long before some of those players contribute, perhaps even as soon as this season.

    Here's a look at the members of the Chiefs' 2022 rookie class who are most likely to make an instant impact.

Trent McDuffie, CB

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    After cornerback Charvarius Ward signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency, the Chiefs had a sizable hole in their secondary. L'Jarius Sneed is set to return as one of the starting cornerbacks, but it wasn't clear who may line up on the other side.

    There's a good chance that will be Trent McDuffie, the former Washington corner who Kansas City took with its first selection in the draft at No. 21 overall. He impressed over his three seasons with the Huskies, and he seems to have a skill set that will translate well to the NFL level. It may not take much time for that to happen.

    "He moves around well," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters after the recent rookie minicamp. "Good hips. Good hands. I like the part about being smart when you're playing that position."

    The opportunity will likely be there for the 21-year-old to seize a starting job at the start of his rookie season. If he can do so with impressive play throughout training camp and the preseason, then Kansas City may have one of its top cornerbacks in place for a long time to come.

    Even if McDuffie isn't ready for Week 1, he should still make an impact quickly during the 2022 season.

George Karlaftis, DE

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    It's possible the Chiefs will have two rookies starting on defense early in the 2022 season, perhaps even in Week 1.

    Like McDuffie, George Karlaftis was selected during the first round of the draft. The former Purdue defensive end went No. 30 overall.

    The Chiefs had one starting edge-rusher in place in Frank Clark, but they needed somebody who could fill the spot on the other side of the defensive line. Karlaftis, who is 6'4" and 266 pounds, could seize the opportunity for early playing time and may have no trouble wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines.

    "He moves around well when he's in space. He's got good hands it looks like," Reid said after the rookie minicamp. "Again, this is with the little we're doing. But that motor is probably the thing that jumps out at you. He goes and goes."

    The 21-year-old may have only had 4.5 sacks in 12 games for the Boilermakers during his junior season in 2021, but he has the potential to draw plenty of double-teams. That could help the rest of Kansas City's defensive line find success.

    There could be a huge benefit to getting Karlaftis out on the field early in his NFL career.

Skyy Moore, WR

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The Chiefs may no longer have Hill in their receiving corps, but they've been busy this offseason trying to replenish the unit for 2022.

    They signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, adding the duo to a group that included Mecole Hardman and some other depth players.

    Kansas City also addressed the position early in the draft when it took Skyy Moore in the second round with the No. 54 overall pick. It's unclear how the receiver depth chart will shake out for the Chiefs heading into the season, but he should have an opportunity to carve out a role on the offense early.

    The 21-year-old had a breakout junior season for Western Michigan in 2021 when he had 1,292 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 games. He has great speed and a strong ability to get open downfield, so he could quickly become a top deep target for Mahomes.

    Reid said Moore was limited during Kansas City's rookie minicamp by a hamstring injury, so the Chiefs haven't seen the receiver at his full potential.

    Once that happens, though, Moore could work his way up the depth chart and become one of the team's top offensive playmakers.