1. Outside Pass Rush
Names to Watch: Taco Charlton, Mike Danna, Joshua Kaindoh, Tim Ward
The three biggest stories of the offseason when it comes to K.C.’s outside pass rush are: 1.) Frank Clark getting arrested, 2.) Chris Jones playing some outside despite being an elite interior rusher, and 3.) the team NOT signing any free agent pass rushers (at least as of press time).
Maybe Clark won’t see any suspension this season. Maybe Jones will be great on the outside in the base defense and then kick inside on clear passing downs. Maybe the Chiefs will still sign a starting-caliber pass rusher before the season arrives. That’s a lot of maybes.
The bottom line is that as the roster stands right now, the Chiefs desperately need another pass rusher or two to step up and prove they can play. If Clark should get suspended for some games and the Jones experiment doesn’t go well, the outside pass rush could prove to be the downfall of the team’s defense.
Taco Charlton looked like he had some pass rush upside last season before getting hurt. Mike Danna looked solid versus the run as a rookie, but needs to show more pass rush prowess to earn snaps in sub packages. Joshua Kaindoh has the tools the Chiefs want to be a NFL pass rusher, but is incredibly raw coming out of FSU. Tim Ward showed some flashes, but is far from a proven commodity.
If Clark does miss any games (for suspension or injury) and Jones still kicks inside on passing downs, that means two of those four guys have to step up and look like starting caliber outside pass rushers. If not, the Chiefs simply must go out and sign someone. I’m not saying that two of those guys can’t step up and do it, but it is one of the biggest question marks of this training camp.
My prediction: I believe the Chiefs will add another veteran to this group before the season starts. I don’t hate the idea of Clark and Jones on the edge in the base defense and Charlton coming in when Jones kicks inside, but there just is zero room for injury or any of them to not do well in that plan. I think the Chiefs need another starting caliber player here.
So there you have it Chiefs fans. Those are my six most important camp battles of training camp. Some are true head to head battles. Some are situations where a certain player has to prove he is up for the job. Do you agree with these six picks? Do you think I am overlooking any key battles? Do you think any of the six on my list are actually not as important as I am making them out to be? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.