Were the Kansas City Chiefs inspired by the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line?
Are the Kansas City Chiefs taking a page out of the Philadelphia Eagles playbook by stacking the defensive line for a potential run in 2019?
With their first two picks in the 2018 NFL draft the Kansas City Chiefs went with two defensive line prospects. Given the success of the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line during the 2017 season, and the Chiefs’ obvious connections to that franchise, could Brett Veach and Andy Reid simply be taking a page out of the Eagles’ playbook and bolstering the defensive line for a Super Bowl run in 2019?
With the 14th selection in the second round, the Chiefs selected Breeland Speaks, defensive end out of Ole Miss. After being a marginal contributor his first two seasons, Speaks exploded his final season at Mississippi tallying 61 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, and seven sacks.
At 6’3” and 283 pounds, he posted impressive numbers at the combine, particularly a 4.87 time in the 40 -yard dash and a 32.5” vertical jump. His size and athleticism gives Speaks the ability to play along the defensive line as well as outside linebacker in the Chiefs’ sub-package defensive schemes, both things he did at times while at Ole Miss.
While this move seemed a surprise to most fans in Chiefs’ Kingdom, reportedly Reid and company were blown away by Speaks when he visited the team for an individual evaluation earlier in the draft process. His athleticism and versatility should give the Chiefs some options going forward in 2018 and 2019.
With the 11th pick in the third round, the Chiefs selected Derrick Nnadi, defensive tackle out of Florida State. Nnadi was pretty consistent throughout his time with the Seminoles, but began to excel his junior season. In his last two seasons he posted 102 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks.
At 6’1″ and 317 pounds, Nnadi posted respectable numbers at the combine, particularly a 5.38 forty-yard dash and a 27″ vertical jump. These numbers aren’t necessarily elite, but show Nnadi has some decent athleticism at his size.
Nnadi undoubtedly gives the Chiefs another big body on the interior of the line that has some mobility. This should help bolster a unit that struggled to stop the run and rush the passer in 2017.
Ironically, given pre-season expectations based on apparent talent, the Chiefs’ struggled along the defensive line in 2017. They failed to consistently stop the run and rush the passer, all must-haves for championship caliber defenses. While there are undoubtedly other needs on the defensive side of the ball, it is clear the Chiefs’ brass believe the defensive line to be their priority.
Realistically, the Chiefs’ best opportunity to truly compete for a Super Bowl will be the 2019 season and beyond. Is this draft strategy simply Veach’s and Reid’s opinion, or are they taking a page out of the Eagles’ playbook and bolstering the defensive line with some developmental prospects for a possible Super Bowl run in 2019?