For the last couple of years in Kansas City, there’s been a precipitous drop from the team’s defensive stars to the next layer of rookies and veterans. The pillars were obvious and the rest were role players.
For a team that relies on its offense to do the heavy lifting, that was all they needed.
These days, however, the defense is the one putting in the work, even when the offense isn’t moving the chains as expected. No team in the NFL has a hotter defense than the Kansas City Chiefs, who have allowed only 14.5 points per game in the last six weeks. They’ve held two of their last three opponents to less than 10 total points, including the NFL’s top-rated offense last week in a 19-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
In short, this unit is no longer about Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, and Frank Clark—at least not by themselves. Jones is still every bit the disruptive superstar in the middle. Mathieu is the emotional core and versatile weapon in the secondary as expected. Clark has come alive this season as he’s gotten healthy with a superb run off the edge for the Chiefs at midseason.
Beyond these players, however, there are a number of others who are likely going to be come household names in the next year or so—players in whom Brett Veach took a chance (some of them significant) and came out looking brilliant on the other side. If the team can draft-and-develop talent like this on defense, the Chiefs are going to find themselves with a wide-open Super Bowl window for years to come.
Let’s look at the team’s upcoming wave of defensive stars-in-the-making.