The Kansas City Chiefs have found a gem in UDFA Tershawn Wharton.
The Kansas City Chiefs have dealt with several injuries along the defensive line in 2020, and the list of available players on the roster has become thin at times. Players who have missed games so far include Chris Jones, Michael Danna, Alex Okafor, Khalen Saunders, and Mike Pennel, who missed time at the beginning of the year due to a suspension.
Adding defensive end Taco Charlton to the mix with a fractured ankle this past week, the rotation is even more troubling. Jones played more reps at defensive end against the Carolina Panthers in Week 9 following the injury and will likely continue to rotate outside due to the lack of rotational talent at the edge position. Even with Okafor likely to return shortly, he has been unable to stay healthy since coming to Kansas City in 2019.
One player that has taken advantage of more playing time due to injuries is UDFA Tershawn Wharton. Appearing in all nine games, Wharton has put together 20 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and has a motor that never seems to run out of gas. Against the Panthers, the rookie defensive tackle set a career-high on the field for 50 snaps, which amounts to 60 percent of the defensive plays.
His production has led to earning playing time over second-year defensive tackle Khalen Saunders, a healthy scratch against Carolina. Saunders missed the first five weeks of the season on Injured Reserve, making his first appearance against the Denver Broncos in Week 7. The following week, he was a healthy scratch against the New York Jets.
The UDFA has seen time in every game for the Chiefs in 2020. During those five weeks that Saunders wasn’t available, Wharton showed enough to hold the job and see an increase in his role as the season progresses. So what about the young defensive tackle has allowed him to keep his rotational role over Saunders?