This group may not be the best position group on the team but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t one of the stronger in the league.
Seemingly ageless and undaunted the Kansas City Chiefs linebackers have consistently been a top unit since Justin Houston was drafted back in 2011. They constantly get pressure on the quarterback and sniff out short passes like screens and outs. They showed this by nabbing six interceptions as a group in 2015 and 26 sacks.
The question for this group is can they sustain a high level of production with age and injuries bound to make a significant impact in 2016. Houston is coming off of major knee surgery and both Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are entering their 11th and 12th seasons respectively.
While there haven’t been any major signs of these guys slowing down it is still cause for some concern. Already Hali sits out some practices each week during the season to save him for games and the Chiefs may try that with Johnson this year.
Overall Grade: B-
The starters on this team have All-Pro capability with the exception of Josh Mauga, who has come on as of late. The lack of real depth behind the starters leaves huge holes in this defense as more and more Hali will need breaks during games. Despite what Houston says he may not be cleared to play until mid-season which would mean a heavy dose of Dee Ford and Frank Zombo.
Ford proved himself as inconsistent when he dominated against the Chargers at home but struggled against New England in the playoffs. Seeing as he is a first round pick it will be a make or break season for him as a Chief. Zombo has proven to be a capable back up but he also lacks the motor and consistency the Chiefs need at outside linebacker.
Next: Projected Starters