Derrick Nnadi’s future
Derrick Nnadi is in an enviable position. He’s a young defensive tackle with championship experience who has turned into an excellent run defender who might have greater potential than that as a disruptor if he’d not played alongside Chris Jones for the first three years of his career. He’s also coming into a contract year, and plenty of teams would likely love the idea of bolstering their front line, trusting Nnadi to grow even more in the next few years of his prime.
For the Chiefs, they’re not in such an enviable position. They already have two expensive defensive linemen on the books for well beyond the 2021 season. Next springs, they’re set to lose Jarran Reed and Nnadi at the same time, meaning the team is likely going to feel a significant hole in the heart of the defensive line if things remain as scheduled.
Here’s where things get a bit sticky for Brett Veach. Nnadi is a solid young talent, the only real asset from an entire draft class back in 2018 (Veach’s first class, by the way). Drafting and developing your own players is the way to maintain a consistent winner, but you also have to know when to let some players walk.
Much of what the Chiefs will want to do at the position hinges on how certain aspects of the ’21 season play out. Will Turk Wharton make a major leap forward in his second season? Will Khalen Saunders live up to any of his potential as a former third round pick in 2019? Is Reed interested in sticking around K.C. longer than a single season?
The helpful aspect working for the Chiefs here is that the market for run-stopping defensive tackles isn’t exactly a hot one. Remember how the Chiefs were able to add someone like Mike Remmers even in midseason and reap the rewards. On the flip side, it’s not often you find one so young, experienced, and gifted as Nnadi enter the market.
All it takes is one team to believe that there’s more to Nnadi’s game to move the needle beyond where Veach is likely comfortable going. Or maybe he can make a move to lock him up before he hits free agency in the first place.