About a month ago, I wrote a piece about Kansas City Chiefs receiver Albert Wilson and how I believe he will be a breakout player on 2015. While I still believe that, I wanted to revisit the topic of sleep candidates as we approach training camp.
With only a few weeks remaining until the pads start cracking, there are plenty of candidates. The Chiefs have one of the deepest rosters in the NFL, especially on defense. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to stay on that side of the ball. So who can crack the lineup and come of age for Kansas City and coordinator Bob Sutton?
The obvious choice would be first-round draft pick, corner Marcus Peters. Peters has a good chance to start, especially with Sean Smith facing a potential two-game suspension to begin the year. Peters fits the system and looks ready to contribute, but I’m not going with a rookie. Instead, I’m going with a young veteran who has all the makings of a very good player.
Jaye Howard got a lot of playing time last year after Mike DeVito was lost for the year with a torn Achilles in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans. DeVito’s loss was Howard’s gain, as the 26-year-old starting 15 games for Kansas City. Howard was able to rack up 36 tackles and a sack in his third season after entering the NFL as a fourth-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.
Howard is 6-foot-3 and 301 pounds, so he has perfect size to be a run-stuffing 3-4 defensive end. By comparison, DeVito checks in at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, while Allen Bailey is 6-foot-3 and 288 pounds. Howard is also a perfect compliment to Bailey because he’s built to play against the run while Bailey is a pass-rushing force on the other side of Dontari Poe.
Howard will be rotating in provided Bailey, Poe and DeVito are all healthy, but he will still provide a very important service. Kansas City finished 27th against the run last year, partially because it could not substitute Bailey out on obvious run downs. With Howard and DeVito, the Chiefs can decide to go heavy on obvious run downs and provide Bailey with a quick rest.
Look for Howard to make a big difference in 2015.