Kansas City Chiefs: Jaylon Ferguson doesn’t fit vision for the new defense

FRISCO, TX - DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
FRISCO, TX - DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs have been rebuilding the defense since GM Brett Veach took over. Jaylon Ferguson doesn’t fit that vision which brings questions.

In the midst of Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach’s second offseason in his position, we are still piecing clues together as to what he appreciates in talent. It’s still too early to judge Veach off of the moves he’s made as a GM, although some will argue otherwise, but the vision has been put out there for everyone to see when it comes to what Veach wants on defense. One player who doesn’t fit that vision is Jaylon Ferguson, an edge rusher out of Louisiana Tech.

Last May, I wrote about how the loss to the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs was the last straw for Brett Veach. Veach went into the last offseason with a vision for the defense, one that consisted of getting younger and meaner. Veach also pounded the table for guys who would play four full quarters of football.

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Veach began to install his vision by moving on from aging veterans such as Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, and Ron Parker (who was only brought back due to injuries in 2018). Going into the draft, Veach spoke about wanting guys that brought a sense of nasty to the defense—guys like Breeland Speaks, Derrick Nnadi, and Dorian O’Daniel. It’s apparent that Bob Sutton’s scheme last season kept some of those additions from last offseason from being that nasty. The hope is that new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will turn that around.

Further moves this offseason indicate dedication to that vision with additions like Tyrann Mathieu at safety and Alex Okafor at defensive end. Even Anthony Hitchens will better fit this mold under a new 4-3 under scheme.

However, in the lead up to the 2019 NFL Draft, one player often linked to K.C. doesn’t fit this outlook in Jaylon Ferguson, a draft prospect out of Louisiana Tech who the Chiefs brought in for a visit recently.

Ferguson currently holds the NCAA record for sacks in a career with 47, with 17.5 of them coming last year alone. Unfortunately, Ferguson’s pro day metrics are some of the worst in the last two decades including his 3-cone and short shuttle times. Both of those drills are to show an ability to get around the edge—something that is, of course, important at his position.

Watching Ferguson’s tape only yields more concerns, the first being his complete lack of bend around the edge. If he’s tasked with getting to the quarterback around the edge, it’s going to be hard to watch more times than not. Most of his work came to the inside of the tackle with some counters or crashes. Ferguson has a great jump off the LOS when he has his hand in the dirt, but if he isn’t able to win with his speed alone, he’ll get pushed out of the play.

He does, however, fit the mold for not only Brett Veach but Steve Spagnuolo for run support. Standing at 6’5 and 276 pounds, he’s the long defensive end that Spagnuolo traditionally has deployed in the past. Ferguson is a run defender first as he does a good job of setting the edge and breaks gaps to make plays. However, he lacks the athleticism to make plays that aren’t directly in front of him.

Here is where he doesn’t fit with what Brett Veach’s expressed vision. It’s not just the poor metrics mixed with shoddy game tape. If you watch him play, you’ll see major concerns about his efforts s. If the ball carrier didn’t run directly at him, he wasn’t interested. If he didn’t win off of his first move, he often quit on the play despite having a number of counters at his disposal. Some games or plays he will get physical and prove his toughness, but others he will show zero effort. Consistency is a major concern for me.

If Ferguson is not willing to play four quarters of football every game, why would Veach be interested in bringing him in? Now, if Veach thinks he can grab him with a late round pick, I’m all for it given his talents at being able to stuff the short yardage run game. However, I cannot see the thought process of drafting him within the first two days of the draft. His lack of athleticism is worrisome on its own, but adding in the effort concerns has me taking a hard pass.