Just a couple months ago, the Chiefs looked like they were in a somewhat desperate position when it came to edge rusher. Melvin Ingram had come and gone without a contract offer from his spring free agent visit to Arrowhead, leaving fans wondering what went wrong and whether or not the two sides would eventually find a way forward.
Then came a few signings as training camp neared that took away the best options on the open market. Ingram found a home with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Justin Houston signed with the Baltimore Ravens shortly thereafter. Just like that, two of the most desirable pass rushers in free agency were scooped up and the Chiefs’ situation had only gotten worse with the legal drama surrounding Frank Clark.
Not only did the Chiefs look like they needed further talent at the position, but a potential suspension for Clark was part of the overall questions at the position. However, the team sat on their collective hands. Perhaps they knew something most of us did not: namely that the team had plenty of developmental players who were going to step up.
Now with training camp locked up, the Chiefs look like they have plenty of young contributors here to help fill the void. Tim Ward has taken a significant step forward and looks ready to be a rotational contributor. Mike Danna looks better than he did last year and he was already an instant contributor on the edge last year as a fifth round rookie. Turk Wharton is going shift inside and outside and looks like he’s ready o make the leap alongside Danna. In addition, Chris Jones is also playing outside on early downs.
That leaves the likes of Alex Okafor and Taco Charlton with some question marks around them. We’ve singled out Charlton here because we’re not sure there’s room for both vets to make the active roster when it comes down to it and both players are likely fighting for the same role. That means that it’s time to really turn it on for Charlton (or Okafor).
Charlton was the one the Chiefs signed first, with Okafor as the late addition to the mix—the “answer” to missing out on Ingram. That means Charlton should be favored here, but he’s also been injured in camp with a hamstring injury (as has Okafor). The thing is that Okafor is the most commodity here, although he has injury concerns for the long haul. As for Charlton, he’s always been a dice roll who was injured halfway through last season and brought back once again on a prove-it deal.
The Chiefs might like Charlton more for some potential upside, but Okafor is the steadier presence who could be favored for the known floor he brings as a well-rounded end. Charlton could use a big game to make the Chiefs focus again on his upside.