The Chiefs have had quite an interesting offseason on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Despite trading away one of the best wide receivers in the league, Kansas City may have upgraded their wide receiver core as a whole this offseason. The team added Ronald Jones and Isaih Pacheco to bolster the running back room, and Darian Kinnard will come in to compete for the right tackle job. On paper the offense should be better across the board this year, but what about the defensive side of the ball?
The Chiefs got younger and more athletic at both linebacker and defensive back. Both of these position groups will have a lot to prove this year, but the potential is there. However, the one position group that remains almost entirely unchanged is the defensive line.
As of now the only notable addition to the defensive line group is George Karlaftis who the team took at the end of the first round. Karlaftis has already made an impression on the Chiefs coaching staff, but is one player alone enough to make a difference?
An Overview Of The Chiefs Defensive Line Entering Next Year
Let’s take a deeper look at who the Chiefs will potentially be rolling out on the defensive line in 2022. Now that we know Melvin Ingram won’t be returning, the final roster is becoming easier to predict. It is still possible the Chiefs will make a trade after camp, or sign a veteran, but it’s unlikely there will be another significant addition at this point.
- George Karlaftis
- Frank Clark
- Mike Danna
- Joshua Kaindoh
- Malik Herring
- Chris Jones
- Derrick Nnadi
- Tershawn Wharton
- Khalen Saunders
- Taylor Stallworth
Outside of Chris Jones and George Karlaftis, this group is quite lackluster. Frank Clark has had his moments but has been inconsistent and unreliable. Danna and Nnadi are both solid role players but don’t have the capability to take a game over.
Surprise Names That Could Impact The Chiefs Defensive Line
The interesting names from these defensive line groups are Kaindoh, Herring, and Saunders. Kaindoh missed almost all of 2021 due to injury, but the Chiefs took a chance on him because of his freaky athleticism. Check out his testing numbers prior to last year’s draft:
If Kaindoh can stay healthy, then he may be able to turn some heads this season. However, Kaindoh never had a college season with more than four sacks. So while the ceiling is high, he clearly needs a lot of development in order to succeed in the NFL.
Malik Herring, similar to Karlaftis, has already been impressing the coaching staff. Herring was an undrafted rookie a year ago, but that was mostly due to an ACL tear during the 2021 Senior Bowl. Herring likely would have been drafted around the same range as Kaindoh.
In contrast to Kaindoh, Herring isn’t exactly an athletic freak. Herring is better with his hands and overall technique. Don’t expect Herring to be a superstar edge rusher, but he can play a valuable role as a rotational defensive lineman that can also play inside on pass-rush downs.
Lastly, Khalen Saunders was a 3rd round pick by the Chiefs in 2019. He showed signs of being on the verge of a breakout last season, but then went down with an injury and missed the rest of the year. This year will be a contract year for Saunders, which is always the greatest motivation for a breakout year.
Trades And Signings The Chiefs Should Consider At Defensive Line
As previously mentioned, there isn’t a clear option for the Chiefs to move forward with for this season. It’s possible they are hoping for several players to develop and be able to step up on the defense. However, if that doesn’t happen there will be some heartaches on defense this season. So what can the Chiefs do to improve the defensive line?
Jadeveon Clowney is off the market after re-signing with the Browns. In a previous article, I suggested the Chiefs sign Akiem Hicks. This is still an option and addresses the interior which may be a bigger concern than the edge. Outside of Hicks, the only other name that makes sense is a reunion with Justin Houston. It’s uncertain how much is left in the tank, but he could also help as a mentor to the young players.
As far as trades, many Chiefs fans are in love with Jaguars’ Josh Allen. Of course, Allen is a fantastic player and a perfect fit for the Chiefs. However, the Jaguars don’t have much motivation to trade him. Pairing Josh Allen with rookie Travon Walker makes too much sense. The Vikings’ Danielle Hunter may be an option, but he will be expensive and has missed significant time to injuries.
If the Chiefs could land either Hunter or Allen in a trade, this offseason goes from great to outstanding. I don’t expect either trade to happen. The current defensive line group is unlikely to change too much from now to the start of the regular season. Either it will be a pleasant surprise, or the Chiefs will be desperately looking for help by the trade deadline.
Do you think the Chiefs have more moves to make on the defensive line? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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