Defensive Tackle and Linebacker
Travis Jones – Defensive Tackle – UConn – 6-foot-4 – 325 pounds
Consensus Big Board Ranking: #42 (2nd Round)
Despite defensive tackle not being near as high on my list of needs as edge defender is, I actually like Travis Jones’ value at the end of the first round a lot better than I do most of the edge guys in that range. Jones is a physical force who would be an absolute terror for offensive lines to deal with if you put him next to Chris Jones. The “Jones Boys” would compliment each other really well, with Chris being a better pass rusher, but solid against the run and Travis being great against the run, but still able to get some pressure up the middle as well.
If the Chiefs suddenly had two powerhouse guys in the middle, it would take some of the pressure off of K.C. to get elite play off the edge. Plus, Travis would give the Chiefs some insurance for down the road if Chris Jones wants more money than the team is willing to pay on his next deal. I think highly enough of Travis Jones that I don’t see any way he makes it to pick 50 (where I would take him in a heartbeat). So I’d be fine with KC taking him at the back end of the first round or trading up from pick 50 to secure him. Jones is one of my favorite defenders in this draft. Period.
John Ridgeway – Defensive Tackle – Arkansas – 6-foot-5 – 321 pounds
Consensus Big Board Ranking: #158 (5th Round)
If the Chiefs don’t land someone like Jones earlier in the draft, I would love it if they took a shot on John Ridgeway with their last fourth round pick. Ridgeway is a monster of a man. Normally you don’t want a 6-foot-5 nose tackle, because it’s too easy for interior offensive linemen to get under their pads and drive them out of the way, but Ridgeway does a great job of getting low and using his leg drive.
The reason I like Ridgeway better than most mid-round nose tackle types is I see the potential for him to be physically dominant enough to push the pocket on passing downs too. Go watch some of his tape from last season and you see a guy that looks like he’s bigger and stronger than everybody else—even in the SEC. He will need to continue to develop his technique and build strength for the NFL level, but I think Ridgeway will be a guy about whom we look back five years from now and wonder why he wasn’t taken earlier.
Leo Chenal – Linebacker – Wisconsin – 6-foot-2 – 250 pounds
Consensus Big Board Ranking: #56 (2nd Round)
Do I want the Chiefs to take a linebacker in the second round of the draft for the third straight season? No, I do not, but if they do, I really hope it’s Leo Chenal of Wisconsin. I liked Nick Bolton as a prospect last season, but I like Chenal significantly more. A lot of people will talk about how big linebackers like Chenal are going out of style in today’s NFL, but go watch his tape and you see a guy with great closing speed for someone his size. He’s a monster against the run and is a fantastic blitzer as well.
Hear me out, what if the Chiefs played Chenal in Bolton’s role from last season while Bolton takes over for Anthony Hitchens? That would give K.C. the best young run stopping duo in the NFL and Willie Gay could focus more on coverage responsibilities. Again, I’m not saying linebacker is something I would prioritize in the second round based on the current roster, but go watch Chenal for a few minutes and tell me he isn’t a future star at linebacker. Spagnuolo loves big athletic backers and I think Chenal has the potential to be as good or even better than Nick Bolton.