The Kansas City Chiefs‘ needs are well known by now. The team needs dynamic prospects at key skill positions, plus another pass-rushing threat on the outside. The pass-rushing need frustrates fans, as Kansas City has invested in the position heavily. The team uses nearly 27% of its cap on the position, which ranks second in the NFL. However, the unit is far below average in sacks, quarterback pressures, and more. Football Outsiders ranks the unit 27th in the league and that is not an acceptable return on investment.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones had a strange 2021. He started the season on the edge but did not meet expectations. He moved back inside and had a solid season. But, Jones did not meet his expectations or those that come with his salary.
The Kansas City Chiefs have an excess of picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Which interior defensive lineman would fit best with the team?
Defensive end Frank Clark’s contract has restricted this offseason, preserving his 2022 roster spot. Clark’s integral postseason performances in 2019 secured Kansas City a Super Bowl, but he has been underwhelming since. He has 10.5 sacks and 51 tackles in 29 games, despite being paid like an elite defender. But, Kansas City could not afford to cut Clark due to dead cap costs and lack of depth behind him.
Outside of Clark and Jones, the pass-rush looks bleak. Kansas City players like Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton flash potential, but neither are the Chiefs’ interior defenders of the future. Khalen Saunders is an amazing athlete, but injuries have halted his progression and playing opportunities. Kansas City has plenty of depth options, but none have high-ceiling potential.
An interior defender is not a glaring need for Kansas City right now. The team has several positions to address first. The defensive tackle group is fairly weak this year, with only a handful of prospects receiving Day 1 or Day 2 grades. But, new defensive line coach Joe Cullen can help accelerate the growth of new defensive linemen.
Still, it would be wise for the Chiefs to invest some sort of draft pick at interior defensive lineman. Depending on how the board falls, a great prospect could fall in Kansas City’s lap. Outside of Jones, there is no long-term option for the position. None of the depth pieces have a star or above-average potential (sorry Wharton). What prospects would be the best fits in Kansas City though?