This KC Chiefs 7th-round rookie — not named Isiah Pacheco — showing early promise too

·2 min read
Emily Curiel/ecuriel@kcstar.com

Jaylen Watson’s hands shot instinctively above his helmet in frustration.

The Kansas City Chiefs rookie cornerback diagnosed what was coming perfectly. He played to the inside of the Chicago receiver Dazz Newsome, then believed a slant route might be next, based on the Bears’ alignment.

Sure enough, Newsome broke inside, and Watson beat him to the spot for a potential red-zone interception.

One problem: Chiefs linebacker Mike Rose came free on a blitz, deflecting Trevor Siemian’s pass before it could make it to the end zone.

It all led to Watson’s show of emotion during Saturday’s first preseason game.

“I was like, ‘Oh goodness,’” Watson said Monday with a smile. “I wanted it.”

The snippet, however, was just an example of how Watson has been impressing Chiefs coaches in training camp.

A seventh-round pick out of Washington State, Watson has played some with the first-team defense the last few weeks along with fourth-rounder Joshua Williams. Watson’s best asset at this point appears to be playing the pass, as the 6-foot-2 corner posted the team’s highest coverage grade Saturday according to Pro Football Focus.

Watson admitted to having some nerves ahead of his first pro game Saturday — including when he looked into the crowd and heard the national anthem — before saying he settled in.

“After the first play, I was good,” Watson said. “I was like, ‘This is what I do. I deserve to be here. I worked for it. Now let’s just play ball.’”

The Chiefs think enough of Watson — and the other “Fab Five” drafted rookies in their secondary — to have put some meaningful trust in their abilities. An indication of that came Monday, as the Chiefs cut veteran cornerback Lonnie Johnson — they traded for him in May — while appearing to commit to their younger players.

Watson still has areas he can improve. One, in particular, is run support, as he was juked in the open field and missed a tackle on Chicago’s Trestan Ebner in the second quarter, leading to a 27-yard rush.

For his part, Watson says that’s one of the most important areas he wants to show improvement in the Chiefs’ next preseason game Saturday against Washington. After playing defensive end part of his career growing up, Watson says hitting and physicality have always been part of his game.

“I try to do it all,” Watson said. “Once I get on the field, just extreme effort, like maximum effort. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help the team.”

On Saturday, that could’ve included an interception ... if not for an unlucky bounce off his own teammate.

“Man, I wish I could just get his hand out of the way,” Watson said with a laugh. “But I can’t blame him for making a play on the ball.”