With the season fast approaching, it is time to take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Top 5 players 25 and under with their entire careers ahead of them.
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has brought about a new era for the team, one that is focused on fresh, young talent on both sides of the ball.
With just four players aged 30 or above (and three of those being the punter, fullback and backup quarterback), that philosophy of delivering young, hungry talent seems to be taking focus rather nicely. Much of the team’s talent is entering their prime years these days, but the Chiefs have plenty of young talent with upside.
Obviously the best player on the roster 25 or under is quarterback Patrick Mahomes, so for the sake of giving other players their chance to shine, the 2018 NFL MVP will not be included on this list. Here’s a look at the best players at the age of 25 or less on the current roster.
5. LB Dorian O’Daniel (age: 24)
While the Chiefs do have its superstars, most of its players are those who can make an impact and thrive in the right system. One example of this is linebacker Dorian O’Daniel. O’Daniel entered the league in 2018 as a third-round draft pick for the Chiefs. While most of his impact was felt on special teams, he began to saw more action toward the latter half of the season on defense. Establishing himself as a weak side linebacker, O’Daniel finished the season with 1 defended pass, 2 tackles-for-loss, 29 total tackles, and 1 fumble recovery.
While these stats may not be flashy, it goes to show that, even in the limited capacity with which O’Daniel was able to perform, he made the most of it. He will have to face competition at WLB, but he has a pretty good shot of building upon his 2018 campaign and having an impressive 2019 outing.
4. DT Derrick Nnadi (age: 23)
Another 2018 draft selection who established himself in the 2018 season is defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. Although he had a rather quiet early season, he started to show his true form as the season progressed. His stats are nothing to take a second look at, but it is the potential he showed that landed him on this list. Likely the starter next to defensive lineman Chris Jones for the 2019 season, Nnadi will be able to showcase his talent on a much more talented defense than that he was apart of last season.
With a Pro Football Focus grade of 68.7, and graded at what PFF terms a ‘good’ run defense and pass rush grade, Nnadi made the most out of what he was given. While he still has plenty of growing and developing to do, Nnadi has a real chance to become one of the NFL’s best run defenders.
3. CB Kendall Fuller (age: 24)
Acquired in a trade with the Chiefs after the conclusion of the 2017 season, cornerback Kendall Fuller had a decent outing with the team in his debut season with the Chiefs. Ranked as PFF’s #30th cornerback with a defensive grade of 72.4, Fuller did what he could to help ease the struggles of an ailing defense that just could not seem to find its footing.
With an almost entirely new defense from the staff, scheme and players, Fuller has a chance to dominate in the 2019 season. Fuller finished the season with 13 defended passes, 82 total tackles and 2 interceptions. He is ready to eat.
2. WR Tyreek Hill (age: 25)
There has been a lot of drama surrounding wide receiver Tyreek Hill, but that does not take away from the eye-popping talent he has. After a rough offseason, Hill will look to build upon his dominant 2018 campaign during which he set the franchise record for receiving yards with 1,479.
While the possibility of a suspension still looms, Hill’s impact may be a bit diminished, depending on the verdict the National Football League gives. However, Hill has hopes of signing a contract extension with the Chiefs later this offseason and deservedly so, if his legal matters do not get in the way.
Hill is elite and extremely talented, but there is one player that is more deserving of the No. 1 spot on this list.
1. DL Chris Jones (age: 25)
After a quiet rookie and sophomore campaign, Jones burst onto the scene in the 2018 season, dominating and practically putting the weight of the Chiefs defense on his back. With 40 tackles, 1 interception and 15.5 sacks, Jones easily had the best season of his young career, and he is just getting started.
While the possibility of a contract extension is waving its head around, 2019 could be a ‘money bag’ season for Jones. The young superstar has consistently said that it will be his best season yet, and if it is anything like (or better) than the previous season, Chiefs fans are in for a real treat.
With a defensive grade of 91.0, according to Pro Football Focus, Jones was ranked as the #5 defensive lineman in the league. To call him anything but a star would be an insult to his exceptional play, and he deserves to get paid like it. Jones is easily the best player the Chiefs have at age 25 or under—save for Mahomes.