2022 Chiefs Defensive Line Camp Battles: Taylor Stallworth Vs. Khalen Saunders

August 25, 2022

The Chiefs preseason hasn’t quite answered all the questions along the defensive line. Will the veteran Taylor Stallworth find one more year in the sun, or will Khalen Saunders rise up and meet his massive potential?

In the words of the great Lizzo, I like big boys. The Chiefs recently signed Danny Shelton — who’s one of the biggest boys out there — to wreak havoc along with fellow mammoths Derrick Nnadi and Turk Wharton next to Chris Jones along the defensive interior. That only leaves one more spot for a pair of like-sized behemoths in Taylor Stallworth and Khalen (NOT Kaylen) Saunders. My heart yearns that the roster gods would allow for all of the fluffy men to be on the team, but, alas, one of them will have to be culled from the herd. Here is how the big boy battle is shaping up.

Taylor Stallworth Has An Uphill Climb To Make The Chiefs Roster

Taylor Stallworth is a fifth-year vet signed in free agency by the Chiefs on a one-year, $1.035 million contract, $300k of which is guaranteed. He spent last season with the Indianapolis Colts. For the Colts, he appeared in 16 games in back-to-back years. On basically a veteran minimum contract, the Chiefs hope to see what Stallworth still has in the tank. So far, it does not seem like a whole lot.

He had a couple of tackles and half of a sack, but there really is not a whole lot that I would like to see from a veteran trying to earn a final roster spot. That is not to say that Stallworth is just there taking up space. There just is not a ton of his action jumping off the screen and being on the field in the fourth quarter of preseason game two is certainly not a great sign. He could be used as trade bait for a team slim along the line, but it does not look good right now for the veteran.

Fourth-Year Chiefs Tackle Deserves The Final Roster Spot In 2022

Khalen Saunders, on the other hand, has been absolutely showing out in the preseason, both in camp and during the games. Saunders has rag-dolled Creed Humphrey in training camp drills and this seemed to translate to the game against the Washington Commanders. He trucked Taylor Heinicke so hard that they threw a flag thinking a man his size should not be allowed to move like that. Saunders was not done making plays as he ended up getting another sack (“clean” this time) on rookie Sam Howell as well as several pushes deep into the backfield.

His pass rush moves and pure strength have absolutely popped off the screen so far and it is great to see from a homegrown prospect. If Saunders can keep up that kind of production, the Chiefs’ big men could end up being a whole lot more imposing. It is pretty clear to me who deserves this last spot.

Stallworth may still have something left and may be used as a small trade chip for a team that can use him. If he is not able to be traded, then I would not lose sleep over letting him walk. Saunders has always had the strength and athleticism that had shown up in spurts during his time with Kansas City and it now seems like he has put it all together. Saunders has the buzz, the upside, and freakish talent to make this an easy choice. Give me all of that Saunders action and let’s see where it takes us in 2022.

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