Starting DE: Vance Walker, Mike Catapano or Allen Bailey?
Three years ago, few fans would’ve had a second thought about the departure of Tyson Jackson. He appeared to be little more than just another draft bust along the Chiefs’ defensive line. That was until Jackson turned the corner his final two seasons with the team. He certainly never played to draft expectations, but he became a valuable piece of the defensive puzzle in Kansas City. Now that he’s gone, the franchise is left with a question mark along their “30” front. Who will take Jackson’s place?
Several options are available, but there aren’t any clear answers about who his successor will be. The Chiefs signed former Raider Vance Walker in March. Young hopefuls Allen Bailey and Mike Catapano have both bulked up to create three-down possibilities for themselves. Going into camp, it’s now a three-horse race for Jackson’s old job. Walker’s the most established player in the pack and the one most likely to start (opposite of Mike DeVito). He has five years of service time in the NFL, but has only recently become a starter in this league.
Catapano is one of the most intriguing young players on this roster. Something about this kid leads me to believe he’ll one day be a very productive player for the Chiefs. I remember watching pre-draft training footage of Catapano in 2013. He’s got the kind of burst you want in a defensive end. He’s also surprisingly light on his feet for a guy player his size. My hope had been for the Chiefs to keep him upright (to compete for depth at outside linebacker), but after seeing training footage of “Big Cat” this offseason, I’m okay with their decision. Aside from bulking up, he’s also done mixed martial arts and boxing work over the past several months. That training should aid Catapano with the hand-fighting that comes along with penetrating both in run support and rushing the quarterback.
Allen Bailey’s coming into his fourth and final year of his rookie contract. Now is the perfect time for him to make a statement about his future with the Kansas City Chiefs. Bailey actually logged three starts for the team in 2013, but he didn’t do enough, with limited time, to take the reins from Jackson. Despite Walker’s contract numbers, Bailey’s dominated the first team snaps at defensive end, but it’s still anybody’s guess about whether or not he’ll stay there as the fourth phase of the team’s offseason program wears on.
Which position battles will command your attention over the next month? Who do you think will win each of the battles I cited in today’s article? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Use the comment section below to begin the debate. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.
Until next time, Addicts!