Willie Gay, Jr.
Earlier we discussed the loss of Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a big one for Veach in particular due to his vision for what the Chiefs roster could be at this point. The same thing applies to linebacker Willie Gay, Jr.
Just one round after taking Edwards-Helaire to bolster the backfield in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Veach wrote Gay’s name on a card in the second round and submitted it. In doing so, Veach’s goal was to raise the bar at linebacker in terms of athleticism and coverage since the Chiefs have been burned early and often in tough games by pass-catching backs and tight ends.
It took some time for Gay to earn major snaps on the field, but down the stretch especially, it was quite evident that he was the man for the job. Gay looked downright sensational on some plays for the Chiefs in the second level in December. While he’s still learning and making the expected mistakes, Gay also provides the Chiefs with their highest ceiling of any player at the position and his sideline-to-sideline speed removed one of the team’s biggest defensive deficits.
Without Gay, the Chiefs are forced to lean on more limited athletes in order to defend bigger and better opponents as the playoffs go on. Ben Niemann is a good story as a former undrafted free agent and the same can be said of Darius Harris. However the Chiefs are much better off with Gay next to Anthony Hitchens on most downs.
Unfortunately Gay has been resting a high ankle sprain that he suffered during the team’s meaningless loss to the Chargers in Week 17. He wasn’t able to practice at all this week and we’ll learn on Wednesday whether he will be up for potentially returning this week as well. If not, the Chiefs are going to have their hands full in the middle against Buffalo.